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Oct 27 2016
Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Chances are you know someone with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects 29 million Americans, but is often preventable. November is National Diabetes Month, a time to learn how to stop this disease before it stops you.

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes. It is estimated that 79 million Americans have prediabetes. Prediabetes, previously called ‘borderline diabetes’, is a condition where your blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than it should be, but not in the range to be diagnosed with diabetes. Prediabetes is a warning sign and should be taken very seriously!  Studies show that early intervention can turn back the clock, so to speak, and return elevated blood glucose levels to the normal range.

You may be diagnosed with prediabetes based on a simple blood test; most likely a fasting blood glucose (sugar) test.  The results are:

  • Normal if your blood sugar is <100
  • Prediabetes if your blood sugar is 100-125
  • Diabetes if your blood sugar is 126 or higher

People with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes often do not experience any symptoms, so they may not know that they have it.  The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who are overweight and have one or more of the following risk factors be tested:

  • Older than 45
  • Physically inactive
  • A parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • High blood pressure (>140/90)
  • Gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more, or had gestational diabetes
  • African American, Alaska native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander

If you have been told that you have prediabetes, it does not mean you will automatically develop type 2 diabetes, but there are important steps that you can, and should, take to decrease your risk of that happening.

Here is the good news!  It is possible to prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes.  These are not new and exciting tricks, but rather tried and true practices well worth the effort! 

  • Eating healthy foods.  Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Strive for a variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition.  A registered dietician can help you create a meal plan that is full of good-for-you and good-for-your-blood-glucose-level food!
  • Losing weight and staying at a healthy weight.  Losing just five to seven percent of your body weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That is 10-14 pounds for a person who weighs 200 pounds.  To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.
  • Being physically active.  I always tell patients our bodies are meant to move. The body feels better and works better when we move.  When you exercise, your body uses more glucose, so it helps lower your blood glucose level and it lowers insulin resistance—and that is a good thing!  Don’t forget, exercise also helps us lose weight, keeps our heart healthy, improves sleep, and even our mood.  Always check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Once cleared, aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. That’s only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

These changes may not be easy at first, but the rewards are well worth the effort.  And so are you!!  You are not alone, so don’t give up.

Sue Woepse, RN, BSN, is a diabetes educator for HFM Diabetes Center.



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