By Dr. Donny Chang
Reliant Division of Endocrinology
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 84 million Americans are believed to have prediabetes, and most are unaware they have it. It’s best to think of prediabetes as a “pre-diagnosis” of diabetes. Basically, it’s a warning sign that your blood glucose level (also known as blood sugar) is higher than normal and that you may develop type 2 diabetes in the future.
Prediabetes develops when your body starts having problems regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that transports glucose into the cells of your body. If you have prediabetes, you may be developing some insulin-resistance (meaning that the cells and organs that regulate blood glucose levels don’t respond well to insulin) and/or your pancreas cannot make enough insulin to keep up with demand.
The good news is that even if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you can significantly decrease your risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes or you can delay it by many years. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and losing weight are the keys to preventing type 2 diabetes.
Here are some proven steps to take to lower your chance of prediabetes and developing type 2 diabetes:
- Control your weight– Excess weight is the single most important cause of diabetes. If you’re currently overweight, losing 7 to 10% of your current weight can decrease your risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes by 50%. Excess weight around the mid-section is linked to increased insulin resistance.
- Be active– Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes. Giving your muscles a workout improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. Both strength-training exercise and cardiovascular workouts are beneficial.
- Improve your diet– There is a lot of evidence that diets rich in fiber and whole grains helps protect against diabetes, while eating refined carbohydrates and trans fats can result in increased risk. Seeing a registered dietitian can help you learn more about eating healthy.
- Don’t consume sugary drinks or foods– Studies show that people who drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages and foods are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t – which can lead to diabetes.
- Quit smoking– Smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop diabetes. Heavy smokers are at an even higher risk. In addition, the combination of diabetes and smoking results in a very high risk of developing serious vascular diseases (such as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease).
You can learn more about prediabetes and preventing Type 2 diabetes here.
About Donny Chang, MD
Raised in Hawaii, Dr. Donny Chang first became interested in medicine when a family member became ill and he saw how much difference a caring and empathetic doctor could make. “When I was young, I got a chance to see how doctors can really help people, and it stayed with me when it came time to choose a career,” he explains.
Dr. Chang enjoys his work as an endocrinologist because it allows him to develop life-long relationships...View profile View posts by this doctor