There are an estimated 54 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.
People with pre-diabetes have blood sugar thatâ€™s higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. However, if you donâ€™t get treatment for and never make the associated lifestyle changes, pre-diabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Those who develop type 2 diabetes are at high risk for other serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and damage to your kidneys, among many other complications.
But there is some good news. You can head off type 2 diabetes by eating healthier foods, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine and maintaining a healthy weight to help bring your blood sugar back to normal.
Pre-diabetes affects adults and children. Some of the symptoms of pre-diabetes include the development of dark, thick, patches of skin around the elbows, knees, neck, armpits and knuckles. It is important to see your doctor if you experience:
Increased urination, especially at night
Sores or cuts that donâ€™t heal
These are symptoms that suggest that pre-diabetes may have already progressed to type 2 diabetes. Usually your doctors will take a blood test to measure your blood sugar. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, they will recommend certain lifestyle changes. The most common ways to manage pre-diabetes are:
Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in fiber. Limit your portion sizes.
Exercising regularly - get at least 30 minutes of physical activity or moderate exercise (ex. brisk walking) 5 days a week
Losing weight - studies have shown that losing 5-10 percent of your body weight lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes
Taking any medications that your doctor prescribes, doing blood tests required by your doctor and following up as instructed
After you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, your doctor may have you measure your blood sugar on a daily basis with a glucose meter. Thirty minutes of exercise per day and 5 â€“ 10 percent weight loss will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Riding a bike to work, walking and going to gym are simple steps to incorporate physical activity.
Regarding diet, itâ€™s not all so much about what you should eat, but how much. One of the key issues in losing weight is controlling your portion size. You may want to consider working with a registered dietitian to determine the quantity and type of food you should eat at each meal. Having pre-diabetes does not mean that you cannot eat certain foods and the solution isnâ€™t always avoiding foods with sugar in them. Rather, you need to cut back on portion sizes.
The bottom line is that being diagnosed with pre-diabetes gives you a chance to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, and the two most important steps involved are moving more, and making healthy food choices. The key to preventing diabetes is to make long-term changes that you can do. Talk to your health care provider about making your game plan work for you.
Josephine Torno, MD, is an adult family medicine physician with the Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group. Dr. Torno sees patients at her Wolcott office located at 464 Wolcott Road and at her Bristol office which is located 102 North Street. Dr. Torno is accepting new patients, and for an appointment at either her Bristol or Wolcott office, please call 860-314-2082 or visit www.bristolhospital.org