Prediabetes is a unique condition where your blood sugar is elevated beyond normal, healthy levels but not enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. However, it does not strictly mean that you will develop type 2 diabetes. In fact, it’s entirely possible to have your blood sugar return to normal with some changes to your lifestyle, habits, and diet. In this guide, we’ll show you how to reverse prediabetes in nine steps.
What Happens When You Have Prediabetes?
Prediabetes occurs when the cells in your body do not respond to insulin the way they normally should. This is known as insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows your body’s cells to use blood sugar as energy. However, if the pancreas notices that the cells are not responding to insulin, it ramps up insulin production to get a response. Over time, the pancreas gets overworked and can’t keep up while blood sugar rises. Eventually, the relative lack of insulin causes blood sugar levels to build up in the blood.
Symptoms of prediabetes that also correspond to some symptoms of diabetes include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Blurry vision
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
How Do I Know If I Have Prediabetes?
Prediabetes does not show any obvious signs. You can have it for years without anything seeming amiss until it develops into type 2 diabetes, with much more obvious symptoms. However, there are diagnostic tests that you can perform to see if you have prediabetes:
- After 8 hours of fasting, a blood sugar test that shows a blood sugar level of 100-125 mg/dL is indicative of prediabetes.
- An oral glucose tolerance test. Performed after a fasting blood sugar test, it involves having a sweet, sugary drink and testing blood sugar again after about 2 hours. A blood sugar level of 140-199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes.
- A hemoglobin A1c test shows your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. An A1c of 5.7 – 6.4 indicates prediabetes.
Prediabetes is your opportunity to avoid getting type 2 diabetes, which is irreversible. Fortunately, in the next section, we’ll discuss how you can reverse prediabetes.
How To Reverse Prediabetes In 9 Steps
- Drink plenty of water. Water is great for keeping blood glucose levels under control, curbing your appetite, and suppressing cravings. Substitute water for sugary sodas and drinks.
- Exercise. Exercise has countless benefits, from using your body’s energy stores to improving your mood and mental health. But it also increases insulin sensitivity in your cells, allowing the pancreas not to overwork itself. Start by just walking for 15 minutes a day. You can also find a physical activity you enjoy and can stick to.
- Eat a healthy diet. This means including plenty of vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, whole grains, and fruits.
- Find treatment for sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can increase insulin resistance. If you snore at night, feel sleepy during the day, or wake up with a headache, treatment can dramatically improve your quality of life. Options for treatment include oral appliances or CPAP/BiPAP machines.
- Lose weight. Just a modest amount of weight loss can completely reverse prediabetes. Considering insulin resistance increases as your waist size increases, losing weight is incredibly effective at improving the way you feel, and it just takes consistent, healthy nutrition and exercise.
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol increase your risk of getting diabetes. Raise your HDL (“good”) cholesterol by exercising, quitting smoking, and managing stress. Lower bad cholesterol by eating a healthy diet.
- Manage stress. Stress can cause elevated levels of cortisol, which can lead to elevated blood sugar. Taking some time to relax and unwind each day is important. Also, practicing meditation is proven to help lower stress levels.
- Quit smoking. Smokers are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to non-smokers. Smoking causes higher blood pressure and can interfere with insulin, raising blood sugar levels.
- Don’t have more than one drink a day. Alcohol can lead to high blood sugar levels by interfering with insulin. You can enjoy a drink from time to time, but moderation is key.
The process of reversing prediabetes is relatively straightforward, but it requires a commitment to improving your health. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that you must manage for the rest of your life, so you should take full advantage of the opportunity to prevent it from happening. Finally, to form a plan to reverse prediabetes, it’s a good idea to contact a qualified medical professional who can help you.
Aqeeq Internal Medicine offers the best primary care in Houston. We aim to give you personalized, compassionate, high-quality care, and our focus is always to put your health first. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation or diagnosis, please give us a call at (832) 786-8195.