What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for the doctor to diagnose diabetes. Most individuals who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes usually have prediabetes first. Those with prediabetes are at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but they can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by making some lifestyle changes.


What Causes Prediabetes?


Insulin plays a critical role in enabling your body's cells to utilize glucose from your bloodstream. In case insulin becomes ineffective, excess glucose accumulates in your blood, and its higher concentration can signal the presence of prediabetes. If these levels keep on rising, it can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. Over time, persistently high glucose levels can cause damage to your blood vessels and nerves, thereby heightening the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health complications.


A typical fasting blood sugar level should be below 100, whereas for an individual with prediabetes, it should be between 100 and 126. Once levels cross the 126 mark, it's classified as Type 2 diabetes. 


What Factors Increase The Risk of Developing Prediabetes?


You may be at risk of developing prediabetes in these conditions:


  • Overweight or obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Excess weight in the abdomen
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Previous gestational diabetes diagnosis
  • Are 45 years or older


How Is Prediabetes Diagnosed?


If you are 45 years of age or older, it is recommended that you undergo testing for diabetes. In addition, those who are under 45 but possess any of the risk factors mentioned earlier must also consider testing.


At first, the doctor may suggest a "fasting blood sugar" test, which measures your blood sugar levels in the morning before you consume any food. Its results should be in the following ranges:


Normal: Between 70 and 99 mg per dL
Prediabetes: Between 100 and 125 mg per dL
Diabetes: Above 126 mg per dL


The doctor may also suggest a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test blood test, which offers an insight into your average blood sugar levels over the past three months, with results expressed as a percentage:


Normal: Below 5.7%
Prediabetes: Between 5.7% and 6.4%
Diabetes: 6.5% or higher


What Are Prediabetes Symptoms?


Prediabetes doesn't usually have any signs or symptoms. However, some signs may include darkened skin on certain parts of the body like the neck, armpits and groin.


Is It Possible To Prevent Prediabetes?


It is possible to prevent or delay prediabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes by making some lifestyle changes. Some of these lifestyle changes include:


1. Shed excess weight: Losing some extra weight can significantly delay or prevent the development of diabetes. For instance, if your starting weight is 85 kg, losing 5 kg can make a substantial difference. However, it is important to note that weight loss goals can vary from person to person based on their individual circumstances and health conditions.

2. Do regular exercise: Make regular physical activity a part of your daily routine. Try to walk, dance, lift weights or swim for 30 minutes, five days per week. Consult your healthcare provider to find out the best exercise regimen for you.


3. Adopt a healthier diet: Opt for a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy in your diet. Lower the consumption of processed, fried, or sugary foods, and opt for smaller portion sizes to reduce daily calorie intake.

4. Eat fiber: Eating plenty of fiber will benefit your gut health and weight management.

5. Drink water: Instead of other beverages, drinking water can help control blood sugar and insulin levels.

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