Living a clean and healthy lifestyle is essential for maintaining good overall health. Unfortunately, with the rise in sedentary lifestyles and the prevalence of unhealthy eating habits, many individuals are facing a health condition known as prediabetes.
In this article, we will delve into what prediabetes is, its causes, symptoms, and how you can prevent it by choosing a healthy lifestyle.
What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. It is a warning sign that if left unaddressed, it may progress to full-blown diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly 96 million American adults have prediabetes, and shockingly, more than 80% of them don’t even know they have it.
Causes of Prediabetes
1. Unhealthy Eating Habits
One of the leading causes of prediabetes is a poor diet. Consuming high amounts of processed foods, sugary beverages, and foods rich in refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle, characterized by minimal physical activity, is another contributing factor to prediabetes. Regular exercise helps the body utilize insulin effectively, which helps maintain normal blood sugar levels.
The absence of physical activity can lead to weight gain and an inflated risk of developing prediabetes.
While lifestyle factors play a significant role in the development of prediabetes, genetics also play a part. Having a family history of diabetes increases an individual’s risk of developing prediabetes.
However, it is important to note that genetics alone do not determine one’s fate; lifestyle factors still play a crucial role.
Signs and Symptoms of Prediabetes
Unlike type 2 diabetes, prediabetes does not usually cause noticeable symptoms. In fact, many people with prediabetes may not even be aware that they have it.
But there are a few signs that may indicate you have prediabetes and should seek medical attention:
- Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination: If you find yourself constantly reaching for a glass of water and making more trips to the bathroom than usual, it could be a sign of high blood sugar levels.
- Fatigue: Prediabetes can cause a feeling of constant tiredness and lack of energy. This can be attributed to the body’s inability to efficiently use glucose for energy.
- Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain: Sudden weight fluctuations without any changes in diet or exercise can be a sign of prediabetes. This is due to the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Darkened Skin Patches: Some individuals with prediabetes may develop darkened patches of skin, usually on the neck, armpits, elbows, or knees. This condition is known as acanthosis nigricans and is caused by insulin resistance.
How to Know if You Have Prediabetes
If you suspect you may have prediabetes, it is vital to see a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. There are several tests that can be done to determine if your blood sugar levels are within the normal range:
- Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test: This test gauges your blood sugar levels after fasting for at least 8 hours. An analysis finding between 100 and 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, while a result of 126 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): This test calculates your blood sugar levels before and two hours after drinking a sugary solution. A diagnostic result between 140 and 199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, while a result of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.
- Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test: This test measures your average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. An outcome between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates prediabetes, while 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes.
Choose a Healthy Lifestyle to Prevent Prediabetes
While prediabetes may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it is not a guaranteed outcome. By making positive lifestyle changes, you can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Here are some tips to help you choose a healthy lifestyle:
Choose Nutritious Foods
One of the most crucial aspects of preventing prediabetes from progressing is adopting a clean and healthy diet. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods low in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates.
Opt for whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats such as avocados and nuts. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can assist in controlling blood sugar levels and maintain overall health.
Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Continuous physical activity is essential to a healthy lifestyle and can significantly reduce the risk of prediabetes progressing. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise.
Find activities you enjoy, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, and make them a part of your routine. Physical activity helps lower blood sugar levels, improves heart health, boosts mood, and enhances overall well-being.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Preserving a healthy weight is crucial for preventing prediabetes from progressing. Excess body weight, particularly around the waistline, increases the risk of insulin resistance.
To reach and retain a healthy weight, focus on portion control, mindful eating, and regular physical activity. Avoid crash diets or quick fixes, as sustainable weight loss is a gradual process that entails consistency and patience.
Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress can contribute to the progression of prediabetes. When stressed, our bodies produce stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can result in elevated blood sugar levels. To manage stress, incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine.
This can include activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax. Prioritizing self-care and finding healthy outlets for stress can positively influence your overall well-being and help prevent prediabetes from worsening.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Quality sleep is often overlooked but plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and preventing prediabetes from progressing. Insufficient sleep can contribute to insulin resistance and disrupt hormone levels, leading to imbalances in blood sugar regulation.
Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a sleep-friendly environment, and practice good sleep hygiene habits, such as limiting screen time before bed and avoiding caffeine in the evening.
Periodic medical check-ups are essential for monitoring your health and preventing the progression of prediabetes. Schedule routine appointments with your healthcare provider to keep track of your blood sugar levels, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
By staying informed about your health, you can take the necessary steps to prevent or manage prediabetes effectively.
Prevent an Irrevocable Consequence While You Still Can
Prediabetes is a health condition where a person’s blood sugar levels are elevated but not to the extent of being diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. It is an early indicator that, if ignored, could lead to full-blown diabetes.
Factors contributing to prediabetes include poor diet, lack of physical activity, and genetic predisposition. Unlike type 2 diabetes, prediabetes typically doesn’t manifest noticeable symptoms, making testing crucial if you suspect you could have it.
Implementing healthy lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, weight management, stress control, adequate sleep, and monitoring blood sugar levels can help prevent or delay the development of diabetes. Thus, one can maintain overall well-being and avoid prediabetes from worsening by leading a healthy lifestyle.
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Whether you’re struggling with prediabetes, trying to lose weight, or simply looking to improve your overall health, Dr. Alice Williams’ blog is the perfect resource for you. So don’t wait any longer. Explore her blog today and take the first step towards a healthier and happier you!
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I am a physician who cares about healthy living. I strive to be as healthy as I can be so that I can thrive in my own life. By sharing what I know I want to help others to live a healthy life.