Making healthy choices is difficult when the consequences of your bad choices don’t show up right away. That’s one reason it’s tough for some folks to recognize that they’re on a glide path to Type 2 diabetes. But we’re here to alert you to the signs and help you prevent or reverse prediabetes (and prevent full-blown Type 2 diabetes). Yes, reversal of prediabetes is possible ... and you can do it for yourself!
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is when your glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet at a level where you’ve developed diagnosable Type 2 diabetes; a fasting glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL signals prediabetes. Rising glucose levels in prediabetes indicate that you might have become resistant to insulin, the hormone secreted by your pancreas that shuttles glucose to your cells for energy.
Unfortunately, one in three Americans has prediabetes, and 90 percent of them are unaware of it. If that’s you, the health risks associated with prediabetes — heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, brain dysfunction and Type 2 diabetes — can sneak up on you, and you don’t want that!
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Do you have prediabetes?
Recently, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association and the Ad Council appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” to talk about an at-home quiz that will tell you if you’re a candidate for prediabetes.
The test — which you can find online at www.DoIHavePrediabetes.org — asks seven simple questions and takes less than a minute to complete. It focuses on risk factors such as being overweight or physically inactive, having a history of high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes, and gender, age and ethnicity. If the online tool shows that you could have prediabetes, you should follow up with your doctor for a glucose test to confirm results.
How to reverse or prevent prediabetes and prevent Type 2 diabetes
Once you know that you have elevated glucose levels, it’s time to take steps to reclaim your health and secure a happier future.
1. Manage your weight — Losing just 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight can reverse prediabetes and help control Type 2 diabetes. You can do that.
2. Get active — Get at least 150 minutes of light aerobic activity weekly (say, a brisk 30-minute walk five days per week). Even 10 minutes at a time adds up. Small steps lead to big changes in how well you’ll live the rest of your life. The key is to start today. Your goal: Do what we do: Get 10,000 steps (including a 30-minute walk) daily. Make a pedometer your constant companion!
3. Eat more healthfully — Fill up on vegetables and fruits (five to nine servings daily), 100 percent whole grains (two servings minimum) and avoid added sugars and syrups, trans and most saturated fats and processed foods. Remember to read nutrition and ingredient labels so you can make better choices about what you eat.
4. Quit smoking or don’t start — Smoking increases the risk of serious health problems associated with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes by causing inflammation in your blood vessels and triggering insulin resistance.
Get help reversing prediabetes and preventing Type 2 diabetes
Making these changes can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone!
▪ The CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you reverse prediabetes and cut your risk of full-blown diabetes in half. One of its greatest strengths is that you are given a coach to serve as both guide and motivator through the whole program. There is also a social component; you discuss challenges and solutions with others dealing with the same issues that you are.
▪ Other programs in your area are listed at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. If there isn’t one in your area, there are also options to join programs online.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.