Being diagnosed with prediabetes doesn’t mean you will develop diabetes. Your doctor can help you come up with an effective plan to keep your blood sugar low, so that you can keep diabetes away for good.
Prediabetes, the common precursor to diabetes, affects more than 86 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 90 percent of people with prediabetes don’t even realize they have this condition. Experts also estimate that three out of four people with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes.
The good news, however, is that once your doctor determines that your blood sugar is high enough to be classified as prediabetes (but not high enough to be diabetes), there are plenty of preventive measures you can take to stop the onset of full diabetes. The window of opportunity to prevent or slow the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes is about three to six years.
Make sure you take the following steps to be on the right path to fight prediabetes and take the appropriate steps to lower your blood sugar level.
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1. Take the quiz
One of the first things you can do to find out if you are at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, is take the American Diabetes Association’s Risk Test. The ADA offers a helpful one-minute quiz, which features questions about age, weight and your family history of diabetes. The results will determine if you are at a low, moderate or high risk of diabetes.
2. Check your glucose level
If your quiz results determine that you have a high chance of developing diabetes, be sure to consult with your doctor and ask for a glucose test to check your blood’s sugar level.
3. Reduce calorie and fat intake
Research has shown that losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight can help decrease blood glucose levels and help other health goals, such as improving blood pressure, raising HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering triglycerides. You can accomplish this goal by consuming fruits, vegetables and whole grains and staying away from processed foods. Nutritionists often recommend sticking with a variety of food, so that your taste buds won’t get bored and you can continue a healthy diet.
4. Stay active
Try to hit 150 minutes of physical activity, or only half-hour a day for five days, in one week. You can achieve many of your health goals by keeping your mind and body trained. Recommended exercises include walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming or group exercises, such as yoga or spinning.
5. Keep monitoring your blood glucose level
The ADA recommends that people who are diagnosed with prediabetes get their glucose levels checked annually. You may even ask your health care provider whether you need a home glucose monitor to check the state of your prediabetes. That’s because the possibility of recurrence always exists. Aging, gaining weight or falling back on habits, such as smoking, overeating or not exercising can cause blood glucose levels to rise again.
6. You may need medication
If you are at high risk of developing diabetes, your doctor may recommend medication to help you manage it. Medications to control cholesterol and high blood pressure may also be prescribed.
If you’re concerned about having prediabetes or are experiencing symptoms of diabetes, it’s a good idea to contact your primary care physician for advice. If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.
by Ramin Zahed