Pre-Diabetes: Now What?
Nearly two million Australians are estimated to have pre-diabetes. However, it’s usually possible to stop pre-diabetes in its tracks, and since this condition is highly likely to lead to type 2 diabetes, it’s important to try. Some key lifestyle and diet changes can keep you from developing full-blown diabetes, even if you’ve already received a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
Pre-diabetes has gained more attention recently, thanks to the rising obesity incidence and greater awareness (which has led to more frequent screenings). If you have pre-diabetes, it means that your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to garner a diabetes diagnosis. Symptoms may not be obvious or may not be present at all, so be sure to tell your doctor if you have two or more of the following risk factors:
- A family history of diabetes or heart disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Tobacco use
Being overweight and not exercising are the two most common risk factors for developing diabetes. Depending on your current diet, once you receive a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, you’ll want to make some changes, such as eating regularly throughout the day and choosing healthy foods such as lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and lots of vegetables and fruits. Limit added sugar and salt and be sure to drink plenty of water. And get some exercise every day; exercise improves your body’s response to insulin and can help those with pre-diabetes avoid progressing to type 2 diabetes.
Medication is another option you should discuss with your doctor, particularly if you aren’t able to control your condition well enough with diet and exercise. There are oral medications available that can increase insulin production, improve your body’s response to insulin, or reduce the amount of glucose you absorb from the food you eat. If you do progress to type 2 diabetes, you may need insulin injections.
As a last resort, your doctor may want to discuss surgical options with you. Weight loss surgery has recently been endorsed by the National Diabetes Foundation as an effective diabetes treatment. Discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor to determine the right plan for stopping your pre-diabetes before you have a bigger problem on your hands.