Diabetes is a terrible disease. Although Type 1 diabetes is unrelated to lifestyle, 90 percent of diabetes patients have Type 2 diabetes - which is entirely avoidable. Today, about 28 million Americans have Type 2 Diabetes, and 84 million have prediabetes. That's one out of 4 Americans! The scary part is that 75 million people don't even know that they have prediabetes.
What is prediabetes?
Just like it sounds, it is a reduction in the body's ability to handle glucose. People with prediabetes (and type 2 diabetes) suffer from insulin resistance. Unlike type 1 diabetes, the pancreas manufacturers insulin, but not enough to effectively lower blood glucose levels. The body's cells slowly become resistant to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin. The pancreas goes into overload, trying to produce ever more insulin, but it doesn't help, and may even damage the pancreas.
How can I tell if I have prediabetes?
You need to have your A1C levels measured. This is a measure of your average glucose level over the past 3 months. The higher the level, the closer you are to diabetes. Below 5.7 is normal, 5.7 to 6.4 is prediabetes, and above 6.4 is diabetes.
I have prediabetes, what do I do now?
If you have type 2 diabetes, it is almost impossible to reverse. The good news is that prediabetes is reversible.
Here's what you'll need to do:
1. Reduce your simple carb intake. This means ditching sugary drinks and refined flours. For many people, this task can be extremely challenging. The American diet is high in refined carbs and sugar is added to so many foods.
2. Eat more whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits. They help reduce inflammation, keep your hunger in check and lose weight. With respect to fruits, yes they are high in naturally occurring sugars, but they are high in fiber which tempers the rate of absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.
3. Move your body. You don't need to run a 10k race for your body to reap the benefits of exercise. A fit body metabolizes sugar more effectively and lowers blood glucose levels.