What is Prediabetes and How to Reverse it Naturally
Categories: General Health & Healing
Rates of diabetes are on the rise. As of a 2017 CDC report, more than 30.3 million Americans—or 9.4 percent of the U.S. population—live with the disease. An additional 84.1 million Americans have prediabetes. Fortunately, at this stage, there’s still time to turn it around by making healthy food and exercise choices and other lifestyle changes.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are too elevated, but not yet high enough to warrant a diabetes mellitus (DM) diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body builds up resistance to insulin, and can result in major lifelong complications. Right now, nearly 1 in 3 Americans is estimated to be prediabetic.
What does it mean to be prediabetic?
Though a prediabetes diagnosis means that you haven’t yet developed diabetes, it’s still cause for concern. At this stage, long-term damage can begin to develop. You may already be experiencing some prediabetic signs and symptoms, or you may not. Right now, there are still things you can do for prediabetes management and diabetes prevention.
Do I have prediabetes?
Only a doctor can give you a prediabetes diagnosis, but there are some symptoms of prediabetes you can look out for. Pay attention to the way you’re eating and how much exercise you’re getting. If you’re overweight, you’re at a higher risk of developing prediabetes and diabetes.
Both are systemic conditions, which means they affect your whole body. Some prediabetic signs to watch for are: feeling excessively hungry or thirsty; having to urinate more frequently; gaining weight; and feeling excessively tired.
If you’re worried that you might be prediabetic, make an appointment with your doctor to get an A1C test to measure your glucose, or blood sugar, levels. A healthy A1C number is below 5.7. A prediabetic A1C range is 5.7 to 6.4, while a higher A1C level indicates diabetes.
Can you cure prediabetes?
If you’re prediabetic or at-risk, you likely want to know how to treat prediabetes. In the early stages, by making smart choices, breaking bad habits, and taking on new lifestyle changes, prediabetes can be reversed. Here are some all-natural treatments for prediabetes:
What to eat for prediabetes
Likely the single most important factor in getting rid of prediabetes is diet. The best foods to eat—as well as the most important foods to avoid—are the same for prediabetics as for diabetics. You’ll want to be on a low-sugar, low (or no) alcohol, low-carb diet that instead prioritizes eating high-nutrient veggies, leafy greens, lean proteins, and good fats. The goal here is to stabilize blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance with a diet that resets your system, lowers your glucose levels, and helps you shed some weight, too.
Exercise is also key to reversing prediabetes. Physical activity affects how your body uses insulin, and is integral to maintaining your overall health. Aerobic exercise like walking, running, swimming, soccer, or tennis can help lower your blood sugar levels.
If you’re not ready to run a marathon, it’s okay— try taking smaller steps to a more fit life, like getting up every hour to walk around the office, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking in a spot that’s farther away from work or the store. Take a couple of breaks during the day to walk around the block, or do some work in the yard. Eventually, these smaller incremental changes will add up, and physically prepare you for a more intense or sustained exercise program.
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to forego your evening run, or make exceptions to your “no donuts at the office” rule. But what feels good—or even necessary—in the moment can lead to major setbacks. Practicing mindfulness can help you better manage emotions that may lead you to make poor choices. It can also help address any underlying issues with food, self-management, impulse control, or motivation.
Lifestyle changes and breaking old habits can be tough. But by adjusting a few things in your daily routine, you can jumpstart your journey of reversing prediabetes.
It’s easy to eat out at work, or to be so tired after getting home that you take the path of least resistance and order a pizza. But if you’re not preparing your own food, it’s impossible to know exactly what’s in it, and it can be difficult to stay on track with a healthy diet. Try preparing your own meals by shopping and doing meal prep over the weekend, then bringing home-packed lunches to work. If you have a group of friends with whom you typically get drinks or go out for unhealthy dinners, try out other activities, like going for a hike or heading to a museum or show.
Getting better sleep—and practicing what’s known as sleep hygiene—can help set you up for success in fighting prediabetes. For one, when we sleep better, we are better: we’ve given our bodies the chance to recover, restore, and do what they need to do. Adequate sleep also means that our hormones are properly regulated, including the hormones that signal hunger or satiety, so we’re less likely to reach for an unhealthy snack when we’re well-rested. A holistic approach to prediabetes treatment—one that includes fitness, diet, and healthy adjustments—will get you off on the right start to better, lifelong health.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. This information on this site is not a substitute for medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. If you have a medical concern, please speak to your doctor or a qualified healthcare practitioner.