What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. It is an intermediate stage between normal blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition because it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Prediabetes occurs when the body cannot properly use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. When the body cannot use insulin properly, glucose (sugar) builds up in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed into cells for energy. This results in high blood sugar levels.

There are several risk factors for developing prediabetes, including:

  1. Overweight or obesity: Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for prediabetes because excess body fat can interfere with the body’s ability to use insulin.
  2. Physical inactivity: Lack of physical activity can also increase the risk of prediabetes because exercise helps the body use insulin more efficiently.
  3. Family history of diabetes: Having a family history of type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Age: The risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes increases with age.
  5. Gestational diabetes: Women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later in life.
  6. Race and ethnicity: Certain racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Native Americans, are at increased risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of prediabetes may not be noticeable, which is why it is important to get regular blood sugar screenings if you have any risk factors. However, some people with prediabetes may experience symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.

The good news is that prediabetes can often be reversed or delayed through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and weight loss. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight and getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A healthy diet for prediabetes should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat should be limited. A registered dietitian can help develop a healthy eating plan that meets individual needs and preferences.

In some cases, medication may be recommended to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Medications such as metformin can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the amount of glucose produced by the liver.

It is important to remember that prediabetes is a serious health condition that requires attention and lifestyle changes. Without proper management, prediabetes can progress to type 2 diabetes, which can cause serious health problems such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and blindness. However, with lifestyle changes and appropriate medical care, prediabetes can often be reversed or delayed, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improving overall health.

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