Most people with prediabetes eventually get diabetes, but here’s a secret: it doesn’t always have to happen because prediabetes is reversible. You can actually prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by making the tips below a part of your life and following a healthy diet for prediabetes.
What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. You’re at risk for type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight, over 45, and don’t exercise. Since you won’t necessarily notice any symptoms, you’ll have to have a blood test to tell you if you have it. If you do have prediabetes, here are some steps that you can take to control it.
Do you smoke? Smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to get type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. So now is the time to quit the habit. Remember, if you do get diabetes and are still smoking, your symptoms may be worse and your blood sugar may be harder to control.
Here are the numbers on a healthy BMI: under 25 kg/m2. That works out to be 155 lb. for a 5’6” woman and 179 lb. for a 5’11” man. If you’re overweight, don’t panic because it may not be necessary to get under that weight to lower your risk. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight (that’s 8 to 10 lb. if you weigh 160 to 200 lb.) already decreases the risk of diabetes. The first step to losing weight is to eat healthier food with fewer calories and increase the amount of physical activities you do.
You most probably know the rules: limit sweets, limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, limit unhealthy fats from fried foods and fatty meats. Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables and aim for chicken, fish, or beans.
That’s why many dieticians recommend following a Mediterranean diet. That means eating what the Greeks, Italians and Spanish eat. This diet helps weight loss and helps control your blood sugar. On top of this, it’s also great for your heart. A Mediterranean diet includes more olive oil, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts and some poultry and fish. This diet is low on full fat dairy products, red meat and sweets.
There’s no way around it. Exercise will help you burn calories so that you can lose weight. Aim for a 30-minute walk five times a week. For the best results, try to get a mix of aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, dancing) and strength training (weight lifting, pushups, pull-ups). Here’s a tip: if you choose a type of exercise that you enjoy, you may help your brain’s hippocampus grow. The hippocampus is the part of your brain that’s linked to memory and learning. By helping it grow, you may help improve your memory and avoid the onset of dementia.
Don’t Skimp on Sleep
If you get an adequate amount of sleep, you are on the way to keeping your blood sugar at healthy levels. Aim for 7 or 8 hours a night is ideal. Studies show that losing a single night’s sleep may affect the liver’s ability to produce glucose and process insulin. This increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) and type 2 diabetes.
So if your doctor tells you that you have prediabetes, remember that it’s reversible.