Chances are you already know that diabetes is among the most common chronic illnesses in our country and increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other severe health problems.
But did you know that up to nine in ten diabetes cases are preventable? It’s true: Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for some 95% of all diabetes diagnoses, can often be prevented through some fundamental lifestyle changes.
Like many of the 28 million Americans who already have type 2 diabetes know, the opportunity for prevention starts to shrink quickly once your blood sugar reaches prediabetic levels.
Although being diagnosed with prediabetes may be alarming, it can also be empowering. Instead of looking at your condition as a forgone transition to type 2 diabetes, consider it your essential and last chance to restore your blood sugar to healthy levels. At Medical Associates of North Texas, our doctors are experts in preventing and managing diabetes. They offer the following advice to help you get started.
Prediabetes, the primary precursor stage for type 2 diabetes, is widespread, affecting 84 million Americans, or more than one in three adults. If this statistic isn’t troubling enough, add to it the startling reality that 90% of those who have prediabetes don’t know it.
Type 1 diabetes usually emerges during childhood. It occurs when your pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that helps dietary sugars enter your body cells and convert them into energy. This type of diabetes has no precursor stage and can’t be prevented.
Type 2 diabetes, which is by far more common, however, is largely preventable. Typically, type 2 diabetes develops when your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with demand or when your cells become insulin resistant, which means they no longer respond efficiently or adequately to insulin.
A prediabetes diabetes diagnosis means that your blood sugar levels are higher than what’s healthy but not yet elevated enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Taking action to reverse prediabetes
Fortunately, most of the time, prediabetes can be reversed through targeted lifestyle changes. The following health improvements can help you prevent full-blown diabetes or delay its onset:
If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds can improve your blood sugar levels.
You needn’t attain your ideal body weight to reap substantial benefits. Dropping just 5% of your body weight may be enough to reverse your condition.
Your body is made to move, and most of us feel better when we do. In addition, regular exercise is a crucial way to improve a wide array of health issues, including prediabetes.
Start with taking a brisk 10-minute walk following every meal. Then, work up to 30 minutes of exercise per day.
A healthy diet means plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean proteins, and heart-healthy, unsaturated fats. Also essential: limit or eliminate highly processed foods containing trans fats and excessive added sugars.
Watch what you drink as well. Choose water (plain or sparkling) or unsweetened beverages such as plain tea or coffee. Avoid alcohol, sports and energy drinks, fruit juice, and soda.
Protect your health long-term
Don’t let a prediabetes diagnosis consume you with fear. Rather, consider it a valuable wake-up call. If you’re ready to learn more about prediabetes and how to reverse it, book a consultation at Medical Associates of North Texas. Contact us online or call the office at 972-695-8053.