Understanding Prediabetes and How to Prevent it

Julie Sanfilippo, RD, LDN, Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Learning Center EDWA wrote for Edwards Elmhurst Health’s blog that  chances are you or someone you love is living with prediabetes. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates one in three Americans have the condition. But close to 90 percent of those with prediabetes don’t know they have the condition because there are usually no signs or symptoms.

Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed diabetes. If steps are not taken to improve your blood sugar level, it’s likely you’ll progress to type 2 diabetes.

The risk factors are the same for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and include older age, family history, ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American), being overweight or obese, poor nutrition, inactivity, and carrying excess weight around your waist.

Because there are usually no signs or symptoms, the best way to discover the condition during its earliest, most reversible stages is to undergo routine blood glucose screenings. An annual screening is especially recommended for adults 45 years and older or if you’re overweight with additional risk factors.

The good news is you can successfully manage prediabetes – or even reverse it. This is possible by getting your blood sugar under control through lifestyle changes, including:

  • Losing weight – This is the number one prevention step. Even losing just 5-7 percent of your current body weight is enough to make a difference.
  • Eating right – Find out how many calories you should eat each day and stick to it. Focus on eating ample fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy.
  • Getting more exercise – The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week. You can break it up into five, 30-minute workouts a week or even ten, 15-minute workouts a week. It’s also a good idea to get more active throughout the day by making an effort to walk more and take the stairs.

Edward-Elmhurst Health offers a unique Jumpstart Your Health program, which aims to help participants lose 5-7 percent of their initial body weight and work up to exercising 150 minutes a week. This program is offered free of charge to people with prediabetes, thanks to grant funding from the Lions Club International Foundation and through the support from Lions District 1-J and the Elmhurst Lions Club. Through the year-long program, participants gain access to the information and support they need to beat prediabetes.

Want to learn your potential risk for diabetes? Take Edward-Elmhurst Health’s free DiabetesAware online assessment. To learn more about type 2 diabetes, or to make an appointment, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.

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