Five Ways to Stop Prediabetes in Its Tracks

November 20, 2020 - Holiday season is coming and so are big meals, sweets and more. It’s a time when many tend to overindulge. And we’ve endured months of a pandemic that has changed our eating and drinking habits. It’s a good time to consider our risk for prediabetes.

Prediabetes is a warning sign that blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 88 million American adults – 1 in 3 – have prediabetes. More than 84 percent of prediabetics don’t even know they have it. It’s a serious health condition with increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

“There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, which is why the condition often goes undetected,” said Carl Davis, MD, who practices Family Medicine in Nacogdoches. “You may be at risk for prediabetes if you are overweight, are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes and do not exercise regularly.”

“If you suspect you might have prediabetes, taking a simple blood sugar test during your next check-up will help you and your doctor discuss your risks for diabetes,” said Davis. “In the meantime, now is a good time to make lifestyle changes that can delay or even prevent prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and other serious health issues.”

Top 5 ways to prevent prediabetes:

1. Eat healthy. Choose foods low in fat and calories and high in fiber. Eat fewer refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice and pasta. Instead, focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

2. Stay active with five brisk 30-minute walks or two cardio-intensive exercise classes each week.

3. Weight Loss, if you are overweight. Give yourself a goal of 5% to 7% of your body weight (that’s just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person). Once you’ve reached your goal, maintain, and enjoy the health benefits.

4. Stop smoking. Prediabetes is just one of the numerous health risks of smoking.

5. Take medications as needed. If you are at high risk, your doctor can recommend medications that can help control cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“Motivating yourself to make these simple changes in your habits may not be easy at first, but these are basic ways that anyone can be proactive about their health,” says Family Medicine physician Aaron Polk, MD. “During the pandemic it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself.”

“Delaying care could lead to complications for those who postpone even routine inpatient procedures or screenings,” according to Jeff Patterson, Nacogdoches Medical Center CEO. “Hospitals and doctors’ offices have protocols in place to make your visit safe. Today is a good day to start new healthy habits. Your health can’t wait.”