How to Reverse Prediabetes
Last updated on August 12th, 2016
The statistics are staggering. About a third of all Americans (79 million) have a condition known as prediabetes, in which the blood sugar values are above the normal range but don’t rise to the level of full-blown type 2 diabetes. Many prediabetics don’t know they have the disease and go on eating unhealthy food and forgoing exercise that can ultimately lead to worsened disease.
These patients with prediabetes have a little bit of insulin resistance, which causes greater than normal blood glucose levels and which sets the stage for type 2 diabetes and the complications that come out of having the disease. Recent research, published in The Lancet, a major medical journal, showed that prediabetics that had at least a single normal blood glucose reading, were 56 percent more likely to prevent their turning into type 2 diabetics in the next six years.
According to experts in disease prevention, having prediabetes should be considered as a chance to take control over your destiny and to turn back the process that is causing the prediabetes to turn into diabetes. There are simple lifestyle techniques that you can involve yourself in that will significantly lessen the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the upcoming years. Lifestyle changes are even better than taking metformin, which is a common treatment for both diabetes and prediabetes.
Things you Can Do
There are things you can do that will decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and that can reverse prediabetes. All of them are simple to do and can make the difference in your having a healthy and long life versus having a short-lived and disease-ridden life.
Here are some things you can do:
Lose some weight
According to a recent research study called the “Diabetes Prevention Program Study”, eating better and exercising in order to lose weight had a positive effect on blood sugar levels. More than 3,000 people with prediabetes were followed for 3 years and showed that those participants who ate better and exercised to the degree that they could lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight (about 12-13 pounds for someone weighing 180 pounds) decreased the chances of having type 2 diabetes by more than 58 percent. Exercise and eating right helped to decrease the amount of belly fat, which is the fat that is around your abdomen and which encases your abdominal organs, and this made the difference between having prediabetes and preventing the disease. Abdominal fat seems to interfere with the ability of the liver to regulate blood glucose levels by putting out chemicals that increase inflammation in the body. It’s these inflammation-causing chemicals that ultimately lead to insulin resistance.
The trick is to decrease the portion sizes of the foods you eat. You don’t have to take out a scale and measure everything you eat. Instead use a diet plate to determine how much food to put in your mouth. People who did this in one study lost 5 percent of their body weight in comparison to people who didn’t practice portion control. Half of your plate should be reserved for vegetables and fruits, a fourth of the plate should be reserved for lean protein sources like lean red meat, fish, or chicken, and one-fourth of the plate should contain some kind of starch, such as rice or potatoes.
Don’t Underestimate your Diagnosis
If you’ve been told that you have prediabetes or if you know that the chances of your having diabetes are high, you still have time to prevent the disease from occurring. According to statistics, each year after being diagnosed with prediabetes, about 10-15 percent of prediabetics will come down with type 2 diabetes. This means that, in 8-10 years, most of the patients will have diabetes and will suffer from complications of the disease, including diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, heart disease, diabetic nephropathy, and amputations.
Another reason why you should pay attention to your diagnosis is that the change from prediabetes to diabetes can happen very suddenly and you won’t usually have many symptoms to indicate that you have passed on to type 2 diabetes. Just having prediabetes increases your chances of having a stroke or a heart attack by 50 percent, according to statistics put out by the American Diabetic Association. This also means your chances of having kidney failure increases by 70 percent if you have prediabetes.
A research study out of the University of California at Sand Francisco showed that 42 percent of patients with prediabetes do anything in order to prevent the disease from becoming type 2 diabetes. The goal should be to begin exercise and dietary changes before you get the diagnosis of prediabetes so that you won’t ever fall into that realm. Only 7 percent of prediabetics know they have the disease. If you get the diagnosis, know that this is the time to take it seriously and take steps to reverse the disease.
Exercise does a great deal to reverse prediabetes. When you exercise, you shrink the amount of abdominal fat you have, your muscles take up excess blood sugar, you lose weight, and your insulin sensitivity goes way up. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to see a beneficial effect. Just aim for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.
One study out of Harvard Medical School showed that those who walked for 30 minutes per day on a regular basis decreased their chances of having diabetes by a full 30 percent. The trick is to start taking short walks, walk briskly, and do this as many days of the week as you can. Build yourself up to a habit of walking so that it becomes second nature to exercise every day.
Try eating foods that are high in fiber. High fiber foods will soak up glucose so that you won’t have spikes in blood sugar but will instead have a slower uptake of glucose into your system. Many high fiber foods are also good for you in other ways, containing vitamins and minerals that help your body function better. The chromium and magnesium in your high fiber diet will aid in the body’s sugar regulation.
In one study of almost 500 women, those who ate a high fiber diet (mostly high fiber fruits) had a 34 percent likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. Those who ate plenty of vegetables had a decreased risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 30 percent. Another study out of Germany showed that people who ate whole grains were 27 percent less likely to have type 2 diabetes when compared to those who didn’t get much fiber in their diet.
The trick is to order vegetables like onions, mushrooms, peppers, and broccoli on your pizza instead of extra cheese and meats. Try a smoothie for breakfast that makes use of whole fruits that are high in fiber. You can mix the fruit with yogurt, which will enhance your calcium and vitamin D intake for the day. Instead of eating potato chips and dip, try eating high fiber baby carrots dipped in low-fat salad dressing.
The goal is to know your risk for prediabetes. If you have a blood sugar level of between 100 and 125 mg/dL or a hemoglobin A1c level of between 5.7 and 6.4 percent, you have prediabetes and can reverse the disease by following the above tips. You also need to think about these things if you are overweight, have relatives with diabetes, had gestational diabetes, had a baby weighing at least 9 pounds, or are of an ethnicity that is at a higher risk for developing the disease (Hispanics, American Indian, Asian American, and African American).
4 Prediabetes Mistakes to Avoid. http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/prediabetes-mistakes-to-avoid/