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MLH - Main Line Health Inc.

11/03/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/04/2021 11:08

How to reverse prediabetes and avoid type 2 diabetes

When you're living with prediabetes, even smallest lifestyle changes can make a positive impact. Improving your diet, exercising regularly, and achieving healthy weight loss can be more effective than medication when it comes to successfully managing your condition.

It's important to remember that progression to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. With the guidance and support of a dedicated physician and a personal commitment to proactive condition management, you can learn how to reverse prediabetes and improve your overall health.

Prediabetes is wake-up call

Prediabetes is an incredibly common condition that affects over 88 million adults - 1 out of every 3 - in the United States alone. It is so common in fact, that many who have it are entirely unaware. People receive a prediabetes diagnosis when their glucose (blood sugar) levels measure between 100mg/dl and 125mg/dl, which is considered to be borderline high. When left uncontrolled or unmonitored, prediabetes can result in abnormal metabolism and can ultimately progress into type 2 diabetes.

Progression is not the only potential consequence of uncontrolled prediabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels can contribute to a delayed healing response in the body, leaving diabetic and prediabetic individuals more susceptible to infection and other wound complications. Long-term risks include deterioration of the nerves, muscles, and tissues in vital organs like the eyes, the kidneys, the heart, and even the brain.

Make no mistake: This diagnosis is a wake-up call. It is considered by most physicians to be a person's last chance to avoid progression to type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, in some cases, the diagnosis is taken less seriously than it should be. Patients may regard it as a "warning sign" instead of recognizing it as a full-fledged condition - one that can and should be diligently managed.

Avoiding type 2 diabetes

Normalizing your blood sugar levels is the most important aspect of reversing prediabetes. While successfully lowering your blood sugar may involve making a number of lifestyle changes, it can be helpful to remember that not everything has to change all at once. Gradual improvements often lead to the most significant progress.

While prediabetes can affect anyone, there are certain factors that may increase your unique level of risk. Some factors, like poor diet or excess body weight, can be easily changed while other factors like race and family history are simply beyond your control. Determining your individual level of risk starts with having an open discussion with your primary care provider, who will work closely with you to assess, identify, and monitor any potential concerns.

Given the severity of the risks associated with the diagnosis, it is important to remember that progression to type 2 diabetes can absolutely be avoided with proactive condition management and a commitment to healthier living. Prediabetes is both a diagnosis and an ultimatum: ignoring it will undoubtedly put your health at risk and lead to more serious conditions. However, taking control of your prediabetes and lowering your risk doesn't have to be difficult.

Taking back control of prediabetes

If you are currently living with prediabetes or have recently been diagnosed, here's the good news: Managing your condition doesn't have to be difficult. Again, even minor adjustments to your lifestyle can be the key to taking back control and avoiding progression to type 2 diabetes.

Here's how to reverse prediabetes and start taking back control:

Regularly monitor your blood sugar.

Successfully managing your prediabetes means routinely monitoring your blood sugar levels. Testing and recording your levels in the morning (before eating), in the middle of the day (after lunch), and in the evening is a great way to familiarize yourself with your body's natural metabolism and to identify foods or behaviors that may be causing your levels to spike. Once you are more familiar with your body's natural rhythms, you may not need to test your blood sugar levels as frequently. When in doubt, talk to your doctor about the type of monitoring that is best for you.

Improve your diet.

Proper nutrition plays an integral role in normalizing and maintaining your blood sugar levels, and has an impact on nearly every other aspect of our health and wellness. Whenever possible, choose fruits and vegetables, lean meats like chicken or fish, and whole grains like nuts and rice over items that are flour-based or high in saturated fats and sugar. Main Line Health offers nutritional counseling and individualized nutritional support for patients looking to adopt healthier habits. Having that added support can make it much easier to incorporate these dietary changes and stick to them.

Manage your weight.

Carrying excess weight in the body can increase an individual's risk for Type 2 diabetes and can negatively impact our physical and emotional health in a number of ways. Achieving healthy weight loss and working to effectively manage your weight will help the body regulate its blood sugar levels while boosting your metabolism and immune system. According to the CDC, losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise can prove to be more effective than medication for prediabetics.

Quit smoking.

Smoking and tobacco use puts nearly every organ system in the body at risk, including those that control your weight, digestion, and metabolism. Smoking is even more dangerous for prediabetics, as those who smoke are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers are. Every cigarette you smoke increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, not to mention other serious conditions like heart disease, retinopathy, or neuropathy.

Don't use food to manage stress.

It can be easy to reach for a snack whenever we're feeling stressed but these "comfort foods" can be particularly risky for those living with prediabetes. Adopting healthier stress-management habits like exercise, meditation, or other mindfulness practices is a great way to limit your risk even further by getting rid of potentially-harmful eating behaviors.

If someone you love is living with prediabetes, you can help them take control of their condition by showing your support and joining them as they work to adopt healthier living habits. Whether you go grocery shopping, cook healthier meals, or start exercising together, your added support can make all the difference as they continue to monitor and improve their health.

Of course, to be effective, these changes should be permanent. The effort you put into adopting a healthier lifestyle will be in vain if they don't become part of your normal routine. Relying on the expert guidance of your physicians and the ongoing support of your counselors and loved ones can make all the difference in your journey to healthier living.

Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.