Prediabetes affects an estimated 1 in 3 Americans and can have serious health implications. Yet the majority of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Finding out if you’re at risk — and what to do if you do have prediabetes — can be an important step in living a healthier, longer life.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to cause symptoms. Because it doesn’t cause symptoms, the condition often goes undiagnosed. In fact, an estimated 80% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Unfortunately, prediabetes can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But there’s good news, too — lifestyle changes can help you reverse prediabetes and reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Know the Risk Factors
Since prediabetes is often undetected, knowing the risk factors can alert you to the need to get tested. Consider talking to your doctor about getting a blood sugar screening if you:
- Are 45 years old or older
- Have a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
- Have had gestational diabetes
- Are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American or a Pacific Islander
- Take certain medications, such as steroids
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
- Are obese
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Exercise less than three times a week
- Have metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a large waist measurement
Lifestyle Changes Can Help
If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, simple lifestyle changes may reverse the condition or reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke. Here’s what you can do:
- Lose weight. For people with prediabetes who are also overweight, losing even a small amount of weight can lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing 5% to 7% or your body weight can make a difference. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that means losing just 10 to 14 pounds.
- Exercise more. Bump up your exercise regimen to at least 150 minutes per week. Try 30 minutes of brisk walking, biking, swimming, or other moderate-intensity exercise five days a week.
- Stop smoking. Studies show that high levels of nicotine make insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar, less effective. Quitting smoking can have a positive impact on insulin’s effectiveness within just eight weeks.
Diet Matters, Too
Because blood sugar levels are impacted by the foods you eat, diet is a significant factor in reversing or managing prediabetes. Here are some healthful guidelines about the best foods to put on your plate and in your body:
- Avoid high-glycemic-index foods. These are foods like white rice, white potatoes, white pasta and foods made with white flour and white sugar that digest quickly, causing spikes in your blood sugar levels.
- Opt for low-glycemic-index foods. Foods like cashews, peanuts, beans, apples, broccoli and plain yogurt are digested more slowly so blood sugar levels remain steadier.
- Include protein in your meals and snacks. Protein helps slow digestion so you avoid sudden spikes in blood sugar.
- Remember the most important meal of the day. The old adage about breakfast proves true for people trying to minimize spikes in blood sugar. A healthy breakfast that includes fiber, protein and healthy fats can keep your blood sugar more even throughout the day.
- Enjoy healthy fats. Diets rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help control blood sugar. Adding foods like avocados, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and fish can be a good way to include healthy fats in your diet.
Healthy Choices Made Easy
At Fellowship Village, healthy food meets five-star dining. Our fresh food pledge promises high-quality, sustainably sourced food prepared by a dedicated chef whose menu supports our wellness program. To help residents make informed, healthy choices about what they eat, we also provide nutrition information with menu items. Contact us to find out more about our mouthwatering – and healthy – dining options, or about our other amenities and services that support health and wellness.