Are you at risk for prediabetes?

When your body cannot move glucose (sugar) from the foods you eat into your cells, where it can be used for energy, it builds in the bloodstream to unsafe levels. High blood sugar levels starve your body’s organs and systems, resulting in prediabetes symptoms and more serious diabetes complications, including heart attacks, stroke and even limb amputation and blindness, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

While just over 29 million Americans (9 percent) currently have diabetes, the real danger is that more than one in every three adults (86 million) have prediabetes, reports the ADA.

Prediabetes means your blood sugar level measures out of the normal range, but not to the abnormally high level that would result in a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Unfortunately, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years, according to ADA research.

The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed, so be on the lookout for any prediabetes symptoms.

Risk factors of prediabetes

Some of the risk factors for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes are very noticeable and are good indicators that you have prediabetes, whether you’ve been diagnosed or not. Being overweight is one of the primary risk factors for diabetes, because fatty tissue causes cells to become resistant to insulin, according to the Mayo Clinic.

They advise you to grab a tape measure and assess the size of your waist. If your waist is larger than 40 inches around for men or 35 inches for women, your risk of prediabetes is high. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is another prediabetes risk factor, because exercise helps regulate your weight, makes cells more sensitive to insulin, and helps your body use glucose as energy.

Along with obesity, blood tests that do not show elevated glucose levels but which do show high blood pressure, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, and general high cholesterol levels with high triglycerides are associated with insulin resistance. Possessing all three of these risk factors points you directly to prediabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Prediabetes symptoms

The problem with prediabetes is that its signs and symptoms often go unnoticed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, one change you may notice is darkened skin in body folds and creases, such as around the neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles, which is a condition called acanthosis nigricans. Other classic diabetes red flags include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision, as your cells become starved for energy.

Prediabetes symptoms specific to women include any of the signs of polycystic ovary syndrome, such as irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic

Do you have a snoring problem? While snoring and sleep apnea may have many causes, including obesity, the Mayo Clinic reports that research has linked these types of sleep issues to an increased risk of insulin resistance.

The fastest, easiest way to reverse prediabetes

walker getting ready to exerciseIn a major research study by the Diabetes Prevention Program, people with prediabetes reduced their risk of developing diabetes during the study by 58 percent by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through simple dietary changes and increased physical activity. Just losing 10 to 15 pounds was enough to make a difference and begin normalizing blood sugar levels, the study found.

In fact, Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s largest health plans, now advises all their physicians to recommend a plant-based diet to their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or obesity. Kaiser Permanente also gives their physicians a plant-based diet booklet to help them get started.

Want to learn more about the benefits of plant-based diets for reversing prediabetes symptoms? Watch “Forks Over Knives,” an evidence-based documentary (currently streaming on Netflix) about the research on plant-based diets and how eating this way can halt and reverse disease, especially prediabetes, more quickly and easily than you might think.

Reid Health’s Diabetes & Nutrition Education Program also can provide information and counsel on pre-diabetes.

Image source: Pexels

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