Prediabetes – Make a “U-Turn”!
The term gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly is prediabetes? And what can you do to prevent it from developing into type 2 diabetes?
Over 86 million Americans are living with prediabetes. If you are in this group, you may have a great opportunity to reverse the trend and prevent yourself from developing type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes can occur for a number of reasons; however, one key factor is that the body can’t make enough insulin to overcome insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone normally produced 24/7 that helps our cells use glucose (sugar) in our blood as fuel.
We get glucose from the foods we eat to fuel our muscles and brain, and we also have storage of glucose in our liver (a back-up in case of low blood sugar or under eating) and our muscles. Without enough insulin and/or insulin sensitivity (how well our cells respond to insulin), glucose will build up in our blood to unhealthful levels.
Staying active throughout the day (minimizing sitting), adequate and quality sleep, optimizing muscle strength, and healthful eating can optimize your body’s insulin sensitivity.
Here are some tips which may help reverse insulin resistance and may help reduce your risk of or delay the development of type 2 diabetes.
- Nourish your body at regular times throughout the day. Skipping or delaying meals for long periods often leads to overeating later, especially at night. A protein-rich breakfast (eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, with some fresh fruit and whole wheat, rye or sourdough toast) can be a great meal any time of the day.
- Enjoy fiber-rich foods such as old-fashioned oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, along with beans and lentils. The fibers support a healthful digestive tract and feed the “good” bacteria in the gut, which is now being associated with weight management, heart, liver, and kidney health, along with improvement in bowel movement regularity.
- Include healthful fats with meals such as avocado, nuts, nut butter, seeds as well as fatty fish. These fats help satisfy our appetite as well as enhance absorption of the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and
- Consider not just what, but how you eat. Distracted eating may lead to overeating. (Think about how this relates to texting while driving!) You may find that when you avoid eating in front of screens such as television, computers, tablets or phones, or while reading, you will be in better touch with your true internal hunger cues and be able to leave food on the plate when you are “comfortable” vs. “stuffed.” Savor and enjoy your food; guilt doesn’t help nutrition status, blood sugar or weight management.
- Stay well hydrated. Blood sugar may often be elevated due to dehydration. Water is your best bet if you are thirsty.
- See your dentist regularly. Gum disease, like other infections, can drive up blood sugar and tooth loss is an obstacle to healthful eating.
- Manage stress. Turn on music instead of the news, pay more attention to your pets, enjoy a hobby such as knitting, painting, or play cards with friends. Beauty, laughter, and socialization are critical to health and quality of life.
- Consult with a Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist for credible, evidence-based nutrition advice. Everyone with diabetes and prediabetes is unique and there is no “one size fits all” diet for these or other medical nutrition issues.
These are some minor pointers that can help you avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes, but should not be taken as instructions on how to avoid the disease. If you are living with prediabetes and are afraid of the onset of type 2 diabetes, you should meet with your healthcare team to get their instructions on how to manage your health.
Lastly, remember that being diagnosed with prediabetes can be scary, but you can turn your diagnosis around. With healthy lifestyle changes like implementing regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular blood glucose monitoring, you can get control of your blood sugars and have a positive impact on your life.
About Janice Baker, MBA, RD, CDE, CNSC, BC-ADM
Janice Baker has been providing diet counseling and medical nutrition therapy since 1982, specializing in weight management, diabetes education, and cardiac risk reduction. Janice holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics and Food Administration.
She is a Certified Nutrition Support Dietitian and has been a Certified Diabetes Educator since 1992. In 2012, Janice became Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management.
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.
 National Diabetes Statistics Report. Available at: cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14.htm.
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