Getting the call from your doctor that your blood glucose levels are high can be a worrisome experience, especially if you have an elevated A1C, a number that represents an individual’s averages blood glucose levels over a period of about two to three months. The diagnosis of prediabetes is given to individuals with blood glucose levels higher than normal but below the threshold of a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Without intervention, prediabetes often leads to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.
Prediabetes and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance can lead to a number of health disorders, including prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. In individuals with insulin resistance, the body is able to produce insulin but can’t use it effectively, causing glucose to build up in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed by muscle, fat and liver cells. This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin, but when the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin to overcome the resistance, blood glucose levels will rise. Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to heart, nerve, kidney and eye damage.
The good news is that there are a number of steps you can take to reverse prediabetes and insulin resistance, and prevent the progression to Type 2 diabetes. By lowering your body weight by just 5-7%, you can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58%.
1. Visit your doctor regularly.
Frequent blood tests and working closely with your doctor can keep you on track to reversing your risk factors for developing diabetes. Whether through prescribing lifestyle changes, medication or a combination of the two, your doctor can better help you by monitoring your progress over time.
2. Move more.
Increasing your activity can help you lose weight, but it can also help lower your blood glucose levels. Physical activity can make your body more sensitive to insulin, allowing your cells to better use insulin and take glucose, lowering blood glucose levels for as long as 24 hours after the activity. Exercising regularly can help lower your A1C.
The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity five times a week, but if you’re just starting out, ramp up physical activity slowly to reduce the risk of injury. The American Diabetes Association even has a walking plan to help individuals get started.
3. Make changes to your diet.
Your general practitioner may refer you to an endocrinologist, but don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator as well. Education is key and studies have shown that receiving nutritional education and motivation counseling can greatly improve an individual’s chances of preventing the development of diabetes.
Eliminate processed foods and focus on vegetables, lean proteins, non-fat dairy, and fruit, aiming for foods rich in nutrients.
4. Seek support.
In addition to working with your doctor and a dietician or diabetes instructor, look for local or online diabetes support groups. These groups can be a wealth of information, inspiration and diet and exercise suggestions. To find local groups and events, visit diabetes.org and key in your zipcode. The camaraderie of a group focused on the same goal can help motivate you and support you through obtaining a healthier lifestyle and reversing prediabetes. Just remember to fact check any information you learn that’s not provided by a licensed or certified health care provider.
Even if you haven’t received a diagnosis of prediabetes, balancing your blood sugar is an important step to take toward a healthier lifestyle. If you have been diagnosed, remember that prediabetes can be managed if you take the right steps.
This article is intended to provide general information only. No content herein should be construed as medical advice or as a professional diagnosis. Consult with your physician before beginning a new fitness or diet program.
Sara Vallejo is a self-confessed happiness, health and self-development junkie from Chicago. She writes professionally in a business development and marketing capacity, and as a volunteer for a digital nonprofit. Miss Vallejo is a passionate mental and holistic health advocate who believes that good health is an ongoing journey best undertaken with supportive peers. Sara’s areas of expertise include nutrition, weight loss, women’s health, mental health and disability issues. She is returning to weight loss and fitness following orthopedic surgery and is excited to encourage and inspire fellow Azumio community members and readers to achieve the best health they can.
Main Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Micolas/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock.com