The disease is where your body has a hard time keeping blood sugars under control which damages the organs in your body. Most of the time, before diabetes develops, you can catch it early by being diagnosed with something called Prediabetes. There is a silver lining with a prediabetes diagnosis because it can almost always be treated without medications and if successful, you can avoid diabetes with all its complications.
Prediabetes is usually diagnosed with a blood test called a Hemoglobin A1c and most clinics can check it with a simple finger stick blood test that takes ten minutes to run. The A1c tells us how high the blood sugars have been over about three months. Prediabetes is an A1c between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent but diabetes is anything above 6.4 percent and most likely will need medications.
There are many risk factors for prediabetes including obesity (a BMI of over 35), strong family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. If you have any of these, then I’d recommend getting checked at your next annual physical exam.
Preventing and treating prediabetes is easy to discuss but takes a lot of work to achieve. The best thing to do is to find a good practitioner to set up a successful treatment plan with frequent follow-ups. At our clinic, our patients spend time with their provider setting up treatment plan and then have education and guidance with a care manager nurse.
The first concept of treatment is to find a healthy diet that works for you and gets you to a healthy weight. The key is choosing healthy food choices that are affordable, tasty, and easy to order/prepare. There are endless tips on which types of diet are best but many studies find the Mediterranean Diet very successful. This diet is high in fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables, lean meats like fish, healthy oils, and there are many recipes online. The goal is healthy carbs and calories that result in a healthy weight.
The second concept is a very active lifestyle and exercise. Staying active is very important and little things like counting steps or taking the stairs goes a long way. However to achieve weight loss and treat prediabetes, high intensity exercise for 20-30 minutes is best. This requires finding a form of exercise that is fun and fits in your schedule. A good idea is to multitask exercise with something else such as spending time with your loved ones.