If you have pre-diabetes, you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also are at increased risk of developing heart disease. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within a decade unless they adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes weight loss and more physical activity.
First, let's define what "pre-diabetes" is and is not. Diabetes is defined as having a fasting plasma blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or greater on two separate occasions. If diabetes symptoms exist and you have a casual blood glucose taken at any time that is equal to or greater than 200 mg/dl, and a second test shows the same high blood glucose level, then you have diabetes.
Among those who should be screened for pre-diabetes include overweight adults age 45 and older and those under age 45 who are overweight and who have one or more of the following risk factors:
- are habitually physically inactive
- have previously been identified as having IFG (impaired fasting glucose) or IGT (impaired glucose tolerance)
- have a family history of diabetes
- are members of certain ethnic groups (including Asian American, African-American, Hispanic American, and Native American)
- have had gestational diabetes or have given birth to a child weighing more than 9 pounds
- have elevated blood pressure
- have an HDL cholesterol level (the “good” cholesterol) of 35 mg/dl or lower and/or triglyceride level of 250 mg/dl or higher
- have polycystic ovary syndrome
- have a history of vascular disease
Pre-Diabetic? What Should You Do?
Fortunately, even if you are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the landmark clinical study called the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that with proper diet and exercise, it is possible to reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 58%!
One important reminder with losing weight is portion control. Besides portion control, your dietitian will also help you cut down on high fat foods. General good rules to follow are:
- eating more foods that are broiled and fewer foods that are fried.
- cutting back on the amount of butter you use in cooking.
- eating fish and chicken more, and only lean cuts of beef.
- eating more meatless meals, or re-orienting your meals so that your dinner plate has more vegetables, fruit and starches on it, and less meat.
Regular physical activity is important for everyone, but especially important for people with diabetes or are at risk for diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends two main types of physical activity for managing diabetes.
- Aerobic Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise at least 5 days a week.
- Remember, moderate intensity means that you are working hard enough that you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. Vigorous intensity means you cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath during the activity.
- Strength Training: Strength training makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose. Do some type of strength training 2-3 days each week.