Prediabetes Can be Reversed! Pre(vent) Diabetes by Addressing Your Sugar Intake

Want to hear some good news about diabetes? For many of us, the disease can be delayed or even prevented through making a few simple lifestyle changes. This is important because not only does diabetes affect about one out of every 11 Americans, but prediabetes affects one out three of us. But first, a quick look at what diabetes is. Before we talk about some ideas for delay and prevention, let’s look at what diabetes actually is:

Our bodies turn most of the food we eat, into sugar – also called glucose – that is then used for energy. To move sugar through the body, we need a hormone called insulin, which is made in the pancreas. If the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or if our bodies cannot use it for some reason, too much sugar builds up in the blood. The result is a build-up of fatty deposits that block our blood vessels, which can lead to stroke or heart attack.

Types of Diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes: the body makes no insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes: the body does not make enough insulin or does not use it efficiently.

In addition to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there is also a condition called prediabetes, in which the blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 15 – 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. But here’s where the good news comes in: prediabetes can be reversed.

Through a national study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “millions of high-risk people can delay or avoid developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight through regular physical activity and a diet low in fat calories.”

Where to start?

Along with a family history of diabetes, other major risk factors include, being overweight, not eating well and not getting enough exercise. By addressing these issues, you can help prevent or delay diabetes. Or as the CDC says: Prediabetes = Pre(vent)diabetes. Let’s take a look at how to get started:

  • Snacking is normal, but instead of grabbing something sugary, choose grains, fruits or vegetables. Popcorn is good too – just hold the salt.
  • If you’re working or shopping, take a walk or better yet take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Get even more exercise in by hopping off the bus or train a stop or two early and walk home.
  • Make a healthy grocery list and stick to it. Don’t shop on an empty stomach.
  • Put together a workout for when you watch television. Walk while you watch, or lift some weights during your favorite show. All those things add up.
  • Don’t devour your food. It takes at least 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you’re full.

The bottom line is that small changes can have a big impact. Delaying diabetes is the first step to prevention. At your next visit, talk with your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested and be sure that they know about any family history of diabetes.

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