Getting diagnosed with prediabetes can seem like a roadblock in your life, but it certainly isn’t. By taking proper preventive measures, avoiding risk factors that may worsen your condition (and consequently lead to type 2 diabetes), and changing your lifestyle for the better, you can reverse the effects of Pre-Diabetes.
It all starts with you being aware of what pre-diabetes is, what causes it, how it can be identified, its risk factors and how to reverse prediabetes.
Prediabetes – The Runner Up To Full-Blown Diabetes
As the name suggests, pre-diabetes is a precursor for full-blown Diabetes, i.e., type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a lot more common than you think; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes, and over 84% of people aren’t aware of this health condition. Most are not be able to identify it until it develops into Type 2 diabetes.
Just like diabetes, pre-diabetes is linked to your blood glucose levels. A person suffering from prediabetes has a blood sugar level that is above average; but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone released by your pancreas that allows your body to use the glucose in your blood to be absorbed by your cells to provide energy and convert it into fat when required. Right after you take a meal, insulin release is triggered to help lower the level of glucose in your blood. People suffering from prediabetes have “insulin resistance,” meaning your body cells do not respond to insulin as they did before, or the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin to regulate your blood glucose levels.
This can lead to prediabetes, and if left untreated, it will develop into diabetes; consider it a precursor for type 2 diabetes.
A person suffering from type 2 diabetes needs to take immediate action, which will involve making changes to their diet and lifestyle to prevent their blood sugar from rising to higher critical levels.
Signs and Symptoms of Prediabetes
Sometimes prediabetes symptoms are brushed off until they grow to critical levels, making it a lot more challenging to detect. Most people are reported to experience none of the symptoms linked to this disease, also adding to the increased difficulty of diagnosis. These symptoms may also build up gradually or slow enough for you to not notice their severity. Some prediabetes symptoms you need to be on the lookout for include:
- An increased level of thirst
- Frequent urination
- Excessive or increased hunger
- Fatigue or headaches
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tiring out easily
If you experience these symptoms with increasing severity, you should seek professional help and have your blood sugar level tested.
What Are The Risk Factors?
Next, let’s discuss some of the risk factors associated with prediabetes. In other words, these factors put you at an increased risk of developing this disease and consequently developing type 2 diabetes.
- According to a study, obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing prediabetes and further type 2 diabetes mellitus. This is because the increased levels of fatty acids and inflammation lead to insulin resistance in your body.
- Prediabetes is also linked to age; the older you get, the more likely you are to develop pre-diabetes. An estimated 50% of people above the age of 65 have prediabetes.
- Being inactive can also lead to an increased risk of prediabetes. According to CDC, being physically active less than 3 times a week increases your risk of prediabetes.
- If you have a history of diabetes in your family, you are also more likely to develop prediabetes and diabetes over time.
- Research shows that race and ethnicity can also become a risk factor; if you are an African American, Asian American, Hispanic, or Native American, you are more likely to develop prediabetes. However, this has a little link to genetics and is rather linked to health disparities.
- Having hypertension or higher blood pressure (BP) can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and vice versa (diabetes can lead to hypertension).
Diagnosis of Prediabetes
People suffering from prediabetes are usually diagnosed after having their blood sugar tested. However, there are a number of tests that can be taken; we will be discussing the most common ones below:
Hemoglobin A1c test
Also known as the Glycosylated Hemoglobin test, this test is done to measure the amount of “Hemoglobin Glycosylee” in your blood. Hemoglobin is the part of your blood cells that carries O2 from your lungs to the rest of your body.
Glucose or blood sugar is usually stuck to this hemoglobin, making your hemoglobin “glycosylated.” By a hemoglobin A1c test, you can measure this glycosylated hemoglobin to see what your average blood glucose level has been for an average of three months. 5.6% or less are considered normal levels, whereas 5.7% and higher can mean prediabetic.
Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
A fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test is done to determine your blood glucose level when you are fasting. In this test, you don’t intake food for up to 8 hours and then have your blood sugar level tested. If your blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL, it will be considered normal, but any higher will be considered prediabetic (100 – 125 mg/dL).https://amzn.to/33AvrMp
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
An OGT test is done to see how your body handles food sugar intake. This allows you to verify if you have developed prediabetes. In this test, your blood glucose level is measured before and up to two hours after you take sugar. After sugar intake, a blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL is considered normal, any higher indicates prediabetes.
How to Treat Pre-Diabetes and Prevent Diabetes?
Can pre diabetes be reversed? Prevention is always better than treatment, and luckily for those who are prediabetic, the right preventative measures can easily save you the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Correct Your Diet
Prediabetes isn’t chronic and can be reversed with the correct lifestyle changes that should focus on returning your blood sugar levels to normal. The most effective way to do so is by regulating your diet; eat a healthy diet that reduces calories, fats, and highly processed sugary foods. Instead, incorporate vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, and lean meat into your diet.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, smokers are 30%-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This is because higher levels of nicotine in your body due to smoking can reduce the effectiveness of insulin or, in other words, promote insulin resistance in the body. As a result, you will have an increased blood sugar level which will need more and more insulin to be regular. At some point, your body will not be able to produce enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar, and you will be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This is why it is recommended that you quit smoking if you want to positively reverse the effects of prediabetes and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Be Active to Cure Prediabetes
As mentioned earlier, being inactive can put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Regularly exercising can help lower your blood glucose levels and help fight insulin resistance in the body, thereby reducing the risk of prediabetes and consequent type 2 diabetes. Studies show that physical activity promotion can help slow down the progression of prediabetes significantly.
Another study states that regular physical activity can lead to blood glucose control and prevent type 2 diabetes, along with having positive effects on blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders, and mortality.
You can drastically reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and reverse prediabetes by reducing your weight. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) sponsored by NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) showed that people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes can prevent the disease by losing weight and making significant changes to their lifestyle by up to 58%. In this program, participants tried to lose up to 7% of their body weight and maintain consequent healthy weight loss as part of their lifestyle changes.
Other studies show that a 5%-10% reduction in body weight can make meaningful improvements to your health and reduce the risk of obesity-related prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Can Pre Diabetes be Reversed with Medication?
Yes, you can take prediabetes medication to help combat the condition and the onset of type 2 diabetes. It is, however, recommended to always start with diet and exercise regardless of being prescribed medication. Your doctor may prescribe you Metformin for prediabetes which helps control blood sugar levels in your body by reducing the amount of sugar your liver releases into your blood. It will also make your body respond better to insulin production in your body.
But as mentioned earlier, medicine can only take you so far. Ideally, it would be better if you paired prediabetes medication with a healthy diet, healthy weight loss, and a lifestyle that incorporates up to 150 minutes of physical activity per week (American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommended) to help combat prediabetes and the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Finally, how long does it take to reverse prediabetes?
Depending on your condition and how seriously you follow the required healthy lifestyle, it can take from months to years to reverse pre dibetes.