Last updated on September 27th, 2022
Blood sugar or blood glucose is the sugar found in your blood. The bloodstream carries this sugar to the body cells to supply energy. The pancreas releases insulin, a hormone, which regulates blood sugar levels to moderate levels. Without insulin, the blood glucose remains in your bloodstream and keeps your blood sugar high. This gives you a lot of health complications including heart, liver, and kidney issues. Through prediabetes, your body signals that you are at risk of developing diabetes type-2.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal. However, it’s not enough high to diagnose as diabetes type-2. It is an elevated level of blood sugar that has not reached the threshold of diabetes type-2. Prediabetes is the warning sign so that you can prevent or delay the onset of full-blown diabetes type-2. People with diabetes type-2 usually first had prediabetes but their negligence of healthcare led to the development of diabetes type-2.
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Causes of Prediabetes
Prediabetes develops when insulin in your body does not work properly. Insulin primarily helps the blood cells to use glucose from your bloodstream. When your body is unable to use insulin effectively then glucose levels in your blood raises. The higher levels of blood sugar than the normal indicates prediabetes. If you do not control prediabetes, it can develop into diabetes type-2. Such high glucose levels in your blood can damage your nerves and blood vessels as well.
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Symptoms of Prediabetes
Usually, people with prediabetes do not have any signs or symptoms. Mostly, people get prediabetes diagnosed by chance. This can happen during the medical screening or routine blood check. Therefore, it is important to keep checking your blood sugar if you fall in the category of people having a high-risk factor of being a prediabetic. The warning signs may include:
- Increased hunger and thirst: Increasing blood sugar levels in your body are a result of a lack of insulin or insulin resistance. This means your body is not able to convert food into energy. Lack of energy, therefore, makes you feel more hungry and thirsty.
- Unexpected weight loss: Lack of insulin or insulin resistance prevents your body to get glucose from the bloodstream. It hence causes a lack of energy. Thereafter, your body starts burning fat and muscle to get energy. This causes overall body weight loss.
- Frequent urination: Excess blood sugar in your bloodstream triggers your body to produce more urine to flush out excess glucose from the body.
- Fatigue: When your body doesn’t get enough energy to work due to a lack of insulin, you may feel tired all the time. The low energy level is one of the prediabetes symptoms.
Prediabetes as such do not have any symptoms and it gets diagnosed by chance in most people. Some of the common symptoms include increased hunger, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, and fatigue.
Risk factors for prediabetes
Some of the risk factors for prediabetes include:
- Haemoglobin A1C level of 5.7%
- A family history of prediabetes or diabetes type-2
- Being overweight or physically inactive
- Women who had gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome
- Eating too much-processed food, sugar, and soda
- Being under high stress
These factors increase your risk of becoming a prediabetic. You need to take special care of your health if you are under any of the mentioned factors.
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Tests to diagnose prediabetes
It is not possible to diagnose prediabetes with your health condition. Therefore, make sure you do not ignore the initial symptoms of diabetes. Your doctor will suggest you any of the following tests to diagnose prediabetes in case he/she notices symptoms of diabetes:
- Haemoglobin A1c test: Hemoglobin A1c blood test helps calculate your average blood sugar levels in the past 2-3 months. This test calculates the percentage of hemoglobin that is bound to the blood sugar. The normal prediabetes HbA1c level is 5.7% and 6.4%.
- Oral glucose tolerance test: Oral glucose tolerance is the ability of your body to tolerate the consumed glucose. This test measures how your body is maintaining its blood sugar levels after consuming sugary solutions. In this test, there is a comparison of blood sugar levels before and after drinking the sugary solution. This test is common for diagnosing gestational diabetes. If you have prediabetes, your normal blood sugar levels will be 140-199 mg/dl.
- Fasting blood sugar test: It is a type of blood test. It requires a person to fast for more than 8 hours or overnight. A fasting blood sugar test measures the level of glucose in your blood in a fasting state. The purpose of this test is to determine how your body can maintain blood sugar levels. The normal range of fasting blood sugar levels in prediabetics is 100-125 mg/dl.
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Tips to reverse your prediabetes
Having prediabetes doesn’t mean that you will surely develop diabetes type-2. You can reverse your prediabetes through lifestyle and diet modification.Exercise regularly: Lack of physical activity is one of the risk factors for prediabetes. Exercise helps in improving your physical and mental health. Along with this, it also helps in improving insulin sensitivity in your body. This allows your body to effectively use insulin and control your blood sugar levels. Exercising for at least 5 days a week can show results on your body. Walking, swimming, jogging, and playing sports are the best exercises.
Lose extra weight:
It is the fact that losing around 5-10% of your body fat helps in regulating your blood sugar levels. Thus, it can reverse your prediabetes. Your body’s insulin resistance can increase if you have a large waist size. Regular exercising and healthy diet habits can help you to shed the extra weight of your body.
Choose the right food:
The type of food you are eating plays an important role in maintaining your health. You need to choose carbohydrates carefully. Avoid simple carbs like candy, pizza, pastries, canned juices, pasta, and sugary food. Simple carbs are easily absorbed by your body and eventually increases your blood sugar levels.
Eat more fiber
Fiber helps in the slow digestion of food. Thus, it keeps the blood sugar level low. Include vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These carbs are highly rich in fiber and keep you fuller for a long. You can also start including more fruits and dry fruits that are also a good source of fiber.
Smoking increases the risk of heart and lung diseases. In addition to this, it also increases the insulin resistance that leads to prediabetes. You can use over-the-counter products like nicotine to quit smoking. You can also talk to your doctor to prescribe you medications to curb cravings for nicotine.
Taking enough sleep is vital for your health. Inadequate sleep releases stress hormones in your body. It increases your blood sugar levels. Thus, you should maintain a regular sleep pattern to maintain blood sugar levels. You can practice good sleeping habits to enjoy a sound sleep.
Improve water intake:
Drinking clean water helps in improving your overall health. Drinking water keeps you well hydrated and ensures your body functions smoothly. In prediabetes, water helps in controlling blood sugar levels. It keeps you full. It is also a perfect substitute for sugary beverages and soda drinks.
Talk to your doctor:
It is essential to work with your physician to manage prediabetes. There are some cases in which, prediabetes is treatable through diet changes and regular exercise. However, others may need some prediabetes medications to bring down the blood sugar spikes.
Keep stress out of your life:
When you are under stress your body releases stress hormones. This increases the glucose levels of your body. Therefore, it leads to prediabetes. Managing mental stress plays an important role in weight loss and controlling prediabetes. You can practice relaxation and breathing exercises to keep you stress-free. For some people, yoga, meditation, physical exercises, and talking to the counselor or therapist, or a friend, helps in relieving the stress.
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Monitor your blood glucose level regularly:
People with prediabetes need to check their blood glucose levels regularly. This helps them to know how their body is responding to the food they are eating and the physical activities they are doing. Regular monitoring of blood sugar also helps them to know the effectiveness of the medications they are taking. If they do not get positive results they can immediately contact their doctor.
When you have the symptoms of diabetes, your doctor will ask you to go for a prediabetes test. Such tests make it clear if you have prediabetes or diabetes type-2. Do not wait for your symptoms to get extreme and your health condition to get worse before seeing a doctor. Immediate consultation with the doctor can help in preventing the development of diabetes type-2.
The right diet for prediabetes
Your diet plays an important role in developing prediabetes or diabetes type-2. If you have recently come to know about your prediabetes then you must be wondering what kind of diet you have to follow. In most prediabetes cases, an only diet change can also keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range. As a part of a prediabetes diet, eat food that contains low carbs and takes a longer time to digest. Fiber-rich foods, lean proteins, and food with a low glycemic index are the best for you.
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Doctors suggest including more fiber in your diet if you are a prediabetic. Fiber makes you feel full therefore prevents you from overeating. This ultimately cuts down your carb intake. Thereby, making your blood sugar in control. Such foods also boost your energy levels and make bowel movements smooth. Since fiber-rich foods digest slowly so they prevent sugar spikes.
Examples: Beans and Legumes, Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains such as Quinoa, Barley, etc.
Prediabetes increases the risk of other chronic conditions including heart diseases. Include lean protein in your diet to reduce the risk of heart problems. Lean proteins tend to have fewer calories than other protein-rich foods with higher saturated fat. They have fewer amount of cholesterol that is healthy for your heart.
Examples: Eggs, Chicken, Nuts, Greek Yoghurt, Fatty Fish like Salmon, Beans, Peas, and Lentils.
Food with low glycemic index:
The foods that are absorbed slowly, release glucose slowly hence they have a low glycemic index. Similarly, the foods that are quickly absorbed in your body rapidly increase glucose levels. Therefore, they have a high glycemic index. If you have prediabetes, you need to include food with a low glycemic index.
Example: Eggs and egg whites, Nuts and nut butter, Seeds like Chia seeds, Sunflower seeds, and Flax seeds, Milk and milk products, Whole Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables.
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There are some functional foods that are helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. They are natural food items that are of medicinal value for people with prediabetes and diabetes type-2.
Example: Cinnamon, Turmeric, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Apple Cider Vinegar.
Before you develop diabetes type-2 for a lifetime, your body reaches a state of prediabetes. It is the condition in which your blood glucose levels are higher than normal. However, it is lower than the normal range for people with diabetes. Prediabetes gives you the first symptoms of diabetes. Identifying those symptoms helps in treating prediabetes and preventing diabetes type-2. Regular exercising, eating a prediabetes diet and some other lifestyle changes helps in treating prediabetes.
Also read:- Gestational diabetes diet
Can stress be a cause of prediabetes?
Is there any special diet for prediabetics?
Well, there is no special diet for people with prediabetes. However, they can prevent diabetes type-2 after developing prediabetes. They can give up sugary drinks and switch to fresh fruit juices, water, black coffee, and tea without sugar. Replace processed food items with whole grains and whole-grain products. Include nuts, healthy fats, seeds, and vegetables in your diet.
Can I start metformin to treat prediabetes?
Undoubtedly, metformin is one of the best medicines that help in lowering your blood sugar levels. It is suitable for people with diabetes type-2. However, in some cases of prediabetes, doctors can recommend metformin. You should not start metformin without a prescription.
How frequently should I check my blood sugar if I am prediabetic?
If you have prediabetes, the doctor may recommend you blood sugar check after every 1 to 3 years. It is your risk factors that determine whether you need to get your blood sugar check annually or after every three years. This helps you to know if you have prediabetes sugar level in a normal range or not.
Can you avoid diabetes after being diagnosed with prediabetes?
According to the National Institutes of Health and American health institute, prediabetes is reversible. Prediabetes is treatable through lifestyle modification and proper medication. You need to exercise daily and control your diet as well. People with prediabetes who do not make changes in their lifestyle are at higher risk of developing diabetes type-2.
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.