More than 37 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, a chronic disease that interferes with how your body manages blood sugar (glucose). There are different types of diabetes, but most Americans have type 2, a metabolic condition that usually develops in adulthood.
Before developing type 2 diabetes, most people go through a period when their glucose levels are dangerously high — but not quite high enough to “qualify” as diabetes. This period is called prediabetes, and for most people, it’s a chance to turn their health around and prevent “full-blown” diabetes.
As a top-ranked primary care practice with three locations in San Pedro, California, Harbor Community Health Centers helps patients of all ages understand their risk of developing diabetes, providing custom management plans to help them avoid developing the disease. In honor of American Diabetes Month®, Here’s what our team wants patients to know about prediabetes and how it can be reversed.
What to know about prediabetes
While the number of people with diabetes is high, the number with prediabetes is even higher — according to the CDC, about 96 million Americans have prediabetes. The problem is, most of those people — about 80% — don’t even know it.
That’s because prediabetes usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. The only way to know if you have prediabetes is to see your doctor for a glucose test. It also helps to learn to recognize the risk factors associated with prediabetes, including:
- Being 45 years of age or more
- Being overweight
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are also at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later.
Glucose testing is simple and quick. It uses a tiny sample of your blood to measure the amount of blood sugar, and it can tell you if you have prediabetes. We might also order a urine test to look for “sugar” in your urine.
If your blood test reveals you’re at an increased risk of developing diabetes, there are some important steps you can take to halt that process and bring your glucose levels into a healthier range.
Limit sugars and carbs
When you have diabetes, you must dramatically cut back on consuming foods and drinks with lots of sugar — including natural sugars, like fructose and lactose. It makes sense, then, that cutting back on those sugary foods and beverages now can help you get your glucose level back into a healthy range to decrease your risk of developing diabetes.
Focus on healthy food choices
In addition to limiting sugars (natural and added), you also need to focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods. Not only do these foods prompt better wellness overall, but by filling up on healthy foods, you can avoid overeating unhealthy snack foods.
Drop those extra pounds
Being overweight affects how your body uses insulin, the hormone responsible for keeping glucose in check. If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds can help your body balance glucose and insulin more effectively.
Incorporate daily exercise
Being more physically active helps your body balance glucose levels naturally, and it can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Going to the gym is great, but taking a walk during your lunch break works, too. Aim for about half an hour of activity every day or at least five days a week.
Improve your sleep habits
Sleep plays a crucial role in preventing many health problems, including diabetes. Yet, the CDC says about a third of adults are chronically sleep-deprived. Not getting enough sleep interferes with your glucose and insulin levels, making insulin resistance much more likely. Check out these tips for helping you get the restful sleep your body needs.
Play a more proactive role in your health
If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, consider it your chance to reverse the course of diabetes, prevent the disease, and improve your health in many other ways, too. Scheduling regular glucose testing — especially if you have risk factors for diabetes — is a smart, proactive way to stay healthy.
To learn more about prediabetes management or to schedule a glucose test, call 310-547-0202 to book an appointment with the Harbor Community Health Centers team today.