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Prediabetes is a condition characterized by elevated or higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. It is often an indication that a person is at risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes.
If you have prediabetes and do not make lifestyle modifications, you may develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, the first thing you should do is to consult a doctor and incorporate the suggested diet and lifestyle modification.
Diagnosis Of Prediabetes
One of the tests suggested is the HbA1c test that measures your average blood sugar levels at a three-month average. This can be done at random, without fasting. The value of HbA1c may fall in the range 5.7 and 6.4 per cent if you are prediabetic. The higher your A1c result, the greater your risk for type 2 diabetes.
You may also be advised to do a fasting blood sugar test, and for this, you have to fast for eight hours or overnight. A blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg per decilitre indicates this condition.
Types Of Diabetes
The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
In the case of Type 1 diabetes, there is little or no insulin in the body, as your immune system attacks and kills the beta cells in the pancreas. Therefore, sugar is not utilised for energy and there is a build-up of blood sugar. This type of diabetes mostly develops in childhood or in adulthood.
The Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to utilize the insulin released, or does not make enough insulin. Hence, there is sugar build-up in the blood, instead of being used as energy. At least 90 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes fall into this category. Type 2 diabetes often occurs in adults.
Difference Between Prediabetes And Type 2 Diabetes
• Prediabetes is often a warning sign for type 2 diabetes, and an indication that you should take care of your health more seriously.
• Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs slowly with time.
• While prediabetes can be reversed through lifestyle and diet, Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured completely and requires medications, apart from lifestyle changes to avoid complications.
Factors Triggering Prediabetes
While prediabetes can occur to just anyone, some major risk factors that trigger prediabetes are as follows:
• If you are over 45 years of age, and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 25, you may have to get yourself screened for prediabetes.
• Carrying excess fat around your waist (over 35 inches for females, 40 inches or more for males)
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Being overweight
• PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
• Eating too much processed foods
Signs And Symptoms Of Prediabetes
There is no definite symptom of prediabetes. Often, diagnosis of prediabetes happens by chance during a medical screening or routine blood test. Sometimes, darkening of the skin colour is noticed on the knuckles, elbows, knees and neck, and they may be the first indications of prediabetes.
But some noticeable symptoms would be:
• Being overweight
• Weight gain around the abdomen
In case you experience symptoms such as increased thirst, blurred vision, frequent urination and fatigue, it is an indication that your prediabetes may have progressed to Type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes can be reversed, if you seriously work towards it. Treatment of prediabetes is also considered as its prevention. Lifestyle changes such as exercise, yoga and meditation can be of great help in the prevention of this condition.
Dietary Modifications: Prediabetes Diet To Be Followed
• Maintain a high-fibre diet.
• Include more fruits and veggies in your diet.
• Fish can be consumed twice a week.
• Proteins and lean meats are good too in moderation; however, plant-based proteins may be a better alternative to meat and chicken.
• Foods should not be deep fried, rather stick to baking, steaming or grilling.
• Drink plenty of water, tender coconut water and other natural options. Cut back on juice and soft drinks.
• Limit alcohol intake.
• Avoid refined carbohydrates.
• Use smaller portions and skip second servings.
• Snack on healthier options such as salads or nuts.
Other Preventive Measures
• Exercise helps in reversing prediabetes by using up sugar in the bloodstream and improving insulin sensitivity. So focus on remaining physically active throughout the day. This may include taking a walk post-lunch or dinner, gardening, swimming, biking, playing games, dancing etc.
• Work towards shedding some weight.
• In case your doctor has advised medication at this stage, it is necessary to take that too.
• Quit smoking.
• Manage stress well.
• Limit alcohol intake.
• At times, alternative medicines and treatments such as acupuncture and meditation can help too.
• Controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure can also help in treating prediabetes, as the three are believed to be interlinked.
Remaining active, eating low glycemic index food and handling stress in a healthy manner can go a long way in preventing this condition.