What you Need to Know about Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition where the body's cells begin to show resistance to insulin. Glucose stays in the blood instead of being used by the cells for energy, resulting in blood sugar levels becoming elevated.

When the blood sugar levels are not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes, but still higher than the norm, then the term "Prediabetes" is used.

It has also been called borderline diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and/or impaired fasting glucose.

This is a very serious metabolic condition that should never be ignored. The long-term damage of diabetes may already be starting.
Get control of your blood sugar levels as soon as possible with healthy lifestyle changes.
Left untreated, prediabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes.

It is not all doom and gloom, going from prediabetes to full blown type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Including physical activity in your daily routine, coupled with eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy weight, can bring your blood sugar levels back to normal.


Signs and symptoms

More often than not, prediabetes does not show any signs or symptoms. You could have prediabetes and not even know it.

It is important to know the symptoms of high blood sugar and be on the lookout for them.

  • Increased thirst.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Increased urination.
  • Increased hunger.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Infections, cuts and bruises that heal slowly.
  • Trouble with skin, gum, or bladder infections.
  • Feeling cranky.
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands and/or feet.
  • Nausea and occasionally vomiting.
  • High levels of sugar in the blood when tested.
  • High levels of sugar in the urine when tested.
  • Areas of darkened skin.



Causes

Researchers do not fully understand exactly why this happens, although excess weight and lack of exercise seem to be important factors.

To understand prediabetes, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of how glucose (a simple sugar) is normally processed in the body.

Glucose is a main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down the food into glucose and other nutrients.
The glucose enters your bloodstream. Insulin helps glucose move from your bloodstream into cells in your body where it will be used for energy.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. When you eat and the glucose is released into the blood stream, the pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream.
Insulin reacts with the insulin receptors of the individual cells, thus allowing the glucose into the cells.
You could say that insulin acts like a key that unlocks the cell doors for the glucose to enter.
As your blood sugar level drops, so does the production of insulin by your pancreas. You need insulin for the glucose to be utilized.

When you have prediabetes, this process is working incorrectly. Your cells become resistant to the action of the insulin and/or your pancreas does not secrete enough insulin.
Instead of being used by the cells for energy, the sugar builds up in your bloodstream.



Risk Factors

The factors that determine the risk for type 2 diabetes are the same for developing prediabetes.

Weight.

  • Being overweight, or worse obese, is a major risk factor for prediabetes.
  • The more fatty tissue you have, the less the insulin receptors will function correctly.
  • Your excess weight is more around your waist, rather than your hips. More "apple-shaped" than "pear-shaped."
  • Eating an excess amount of carbohydrates.

Inactivity.

  • Physical activity, especially exercise, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more receptive to insulin.
  • Physical activity helps you to control your weight.
  • Physical activity greatly contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
  • The less active you are, the more you run the risk of contracting prediabetes.

Family history.

  • If a parent or a sibling has type 2 diabetes, the risk of you getting prediabetes increases.

Age.

  • As you get older, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases, most noticeably after age 45.
  • People are more prone to a sedentary lifestyle and tend to exercise less, thus losing muscle mass and gaining weight as they age. This could be the reason why the risk escalates with age.
  • However, diabetes is also increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults.

Gestational diabetes.

  • If you develop diabetes when you are pregnant (gestational diabetes), your risk of developing prediabetes later increases.
  • If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 4.1kg. (9 lb), then you are also at risk of prediabetes.

Smoking.

  • If you are a smoker.
  • Being around smokers more than average.

Polycystic ovary syndrome.

  • A common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity.

Metabolic syndrome. (Syndrome X)

  • When the following conditions occur together, it referred to as metabolic syndrome.
  • Obesity.
  • High blood sugar.
  • Abnormal blood fats.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High levels of low-density cholesterol (LDL)
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL)
  • High levels of triglycerides.
  • These conditions are all associated with resistance to insulin.

Suffering from hypertension. (High blood pressure)

  • High levels of glucose in the blood add to your blood pressure.
  • If you already suffer from high blood pressure then you need to be extra cautious towards your blood sugar levels.

Recently diagnosed with Insulin Resistance.

  • Insulin resistance is the basis of type 2 diabetes, having this condition might very well mean that you already have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.



Treatment and Prevention

The steps needed to prevent prediabetes are the same ones that are used to treat the condition. Except for the medications that some prediabetics need to take.

To bring your blood sugar levels back to normal and/or to prevent it from rising to full-blown diabetes levels, you need to make healthy lifestyle changes.
This is not something new; everybody on this planet should be doing it.

An active healthy lifestyle could even reverse your prediabetes condition, if you take it seriously.

You do not like to change? Then consider this:

You are at a point in your life, with certain habits and ways. You arrived at this point in your life due to changes in your life. Mostly without your active participation in the decisions that led you here, nonetheless, it is changes.

The moral of this is, embrace the changes in your life, or it will embrace you. You decide on what changes are necessary and actively pursue it; otherwise, the changes will chase you, and overcome you.

Take it one step at a time, day by day, take it seriously and soon you will be living a healthier lifestyle.

Every morning, as you get up, resolve to do two things that day:

Eat healthy foods and do some physical activity.
Do this today, then again tomorrow, try it the next day and the next, until it becomes habit, as natural as brushing your teeth.
Then continue until it becomes second nature, as easy as breathing, then you will be comfortable with it and would not like it to change, ever.

Taking a very positive, proactive attitude towards healthy habits, can only help and not hurt, as long as the approach used is reasonable and safe.
What do you have to lose, except a possible diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and all the trouble and hassles that come with it?


So, what is a healthy lifestyle?

  • Eat healthy foods.
    • Choose foods low in fat and calories.
    • Eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
    • Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition.
    • A dietitian can help you design a meal plan.
    • Eat three meals per day of the same size and at the same time.
    • Have a small snack between each meal as well as a late night snack.

  • Get more physical activity.
    • Will promote a sense of well being and can help to reduce blood sugar levels.
    • Exercising has shown to help protect against developing diabetes.
    • Exercise regularly and ensure that you lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
    • At least 30 minutes of activity that gets you breathless each day, are recommended by the Department of Health.
    • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day.
    • Take a brisk daily walk.
    • Ride your bike.
    • Swim laps.
    • If you cannot fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout the day.
    • Talk to a health care provider about designing a safe exercise program.

    Lose excess pounds.

    • To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits.
    • Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as:
    • A healthier heart.
    • More energy.
    • Improved self-esteem.
    • A sense of well being.
    • The more healthy habits you can adopt, the better.
    • It has been found that weight loss resulting from moderate exercise couple with healthy eating habits help delay or prevent the development diabetes, even those in the high-risk category.

    Treatment with medications

    Medications where needed.

    • Take the medications as prescribed.
    • If you are at a high risk of diabetes, then medications are sometimes an option.
    • Oral drugs like, metformin (Glucophage) and/or acarbose (Precose) are normally prescribed.
    • Medication is usually prescribed when:
    • Your prediabetes is worsening.
    • You have a cardiovascular disease.
    • You have a fatty liver disease.
    • You have polycystic ovary syndrome.
    • You might also need medications to control high blood pressure and/or cholesterol.
    • A low-dose aspirin therapy, that will help prevent heart and blood vessel disease, can also be prescribed.

    Alternative medicine.

    • Before considering alternative therapies or dietary supplements, consult your doctor.
    • Your doctor can help you determine the advantages and disadvantages of alternate therapies.
    • Alternate therapies.
    • Stevia.
    • Beta glucans.
    • Cassia cinnamon.
    • Ginseng.
    • Bitter melon.
    • Gymnema.
    • There is no conclusive evidence that these alternative therapies are effective.

    If you have prediabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, or impaired glucose tolerance, you need to take it very, very seriously. If you do not, your condition will only get worse.
    Making healthy choices now can prevent type 2 diabetes or even reverse your prediabetes.


    Conclusion

    Prediabetes can be reversed or even cured with a positive attitude towards a healthy lifestyle. Do not go back to your previous lifestyle, as the condition will only return and you will be worse off.

    It is your choice if you want to fight the disease or let it continue its course. You have to make the decision; nobody else can do it for you.
    It really is up to you.


    › What you Need to Know about Prediabetes


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