By J Wiekamp, MPAS, PA-C
Prediabetes is often the precursor to type 2 diabetes mellitus(DM). It is diagnosed when fasting blood sugars run high, but not high enough to formally diagnose diabetes. Fortunately, prediabetics are often able to slow or stop the progression to type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is due to poor insulin production and insulin resistance. Insulin is made by the pancreas and used to help transport blood sugar into the cell. Without insulin, blood sugars rise. In type 2 DM, insulin continues to be produced by the pancreas, but the amount of insulin is not enough. To make matters worse, the body becomes resistant to insulin. Type 2 DM is usually diagnosed later in life, after a period of prediabetes. Type 1 diabetes is very different. It is an autoimmune disorder where the body quits making insulin altogether. It is usually diagnosed as a child or adolescent.
Type 2 diabetes is a result of both genetic and lifestyle factors. Individuals with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes are at higher risk. Lifestyle choices also deeply affect one’s progression to type 2 DM. Overweight adults are at much higher risk, as are those who do not regularly exercise.
Prediabetics who make lifestyle changes are often successful at lowering blood sugars!
Regular exercise is a must. For healthy adults, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Strength training is recommended twice weekly. Keep in mind, these are goals to work towards! If you have not exercised regularly in the past, you should start slowly. Lunchtime walks, taking the stairs at work and biking instead of driving are all ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Diet changes may prevent the onset of diabetes. Limit added sugars(soda, juices, candy, etc…), and simple starches(pastas, potatoes, etc…). Choose fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Slow and steady weight loss is best.
With healthy weight loss, a good diet and regular exercise, many prediabetics are often able to control their blood sugars and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.