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How to Reverse Prediabetes

In this article, we will discuss what prediabetes is, the symptoms of prediabetes, and how you can reverse prediabetes…(continue reading)

Unlike certain forms of diabetes, if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes you are still able to reverse the condition. Prediabetes is a serious health condition, but it can be treated and prevented with some lifestyle changes and other treatment options too. Although millions of people in the United States have it, most do not even know they are living with prediabetes. In this article, we will discuss what prediabetes is, the symptoms of prediabetes, and how you can reverse prediabetes using diet and exercise, and we will also discuss how you can prevent prediabetes from developing in the first place.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes occurs when you have blood sugar, also called glucose, that is high but you do not have full-blown diabetes yet. It means that your body is having trouble processing sugar and if you do not do something about it, you may develop type 2 diabetes. The reason your blood sugar level is higher than normal is due to insulin resistance. The hormone insulin helps your body to process sugar into energy and without it, the sugar stays in your blood. When your cells lose insulin sensitivity and become insulin resistant they no longer can take in the glucose which causes your blood glucose level to rise. Elevated levels of blood sugar can lead to prediabetes and eventually type 2 diabetes and can also cause serious complications such as heart attack, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, damage to your blood vessels, and high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

One of the reasons that prediabetes is so dangerous is that you may not show any symptoms and will never know you had it until the progression to type 2 diabetes. However, if you do have symptoms they usually manifest in the form of symptoms that are similar to diabetes. The common symptoms of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark spots on your skin called acanthosis nigricans that have a velvety appearance, especially on your neck, armpits, knuckles, elbows, knees, or groin
  • Weight loss despite an increased appetite
  • Increased hunger
  • Inability to feel or tingling in your extremities
  • Wounds that heal slowly
  • More frequent infections

Please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider if you exhibit any of these symptoms to get a blood sugar test.

What are some ways you can reverse prediabetes?

The good news is that a prediabetes diagnosis is reversible. Here are some things you can do to lower your blood sugar level and prevent type 2 diabetes:

Exercise regularly

A good way to help reverse your prediabetes is to exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Living a sedentary lifestyle without an exercise routine puts you at a higher risk for prediabetes and diabetes as well as many other health conditions. You can break the 150 minutes down into smaller increments, for example, 30 minutes per day five days a week, although you need to stay physically active at least three days a week. Physical activity reduces your insulin levels by using up the excess blood sugar and by helping your cells to become more sensitive to insulin. Great examples of different exercises that may help include running, biking, swimming, hiking, and even brisk walking.

Lose weight

If you are overweight or obese, one of the best things you can do for your health is to lose any excess weight and maintain a healthy weight. If you have a waist size over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women it is also a risk factor for prediabetes as is being obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even a small weight loss of just 5% to 7% can make a big difference in your blood sugar levels and help reduce your risk for prediabetes. The best way to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight is to get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy, balanced diet is an important part of managing your blood sugar levels and can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. Eating healthy foods that score low on the glycemic index, which measures how much a food increases your blood sugar levels, can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Foods that are high in fiber also score low on the glycemic index as they are slower to convert your food into glucose and also help you feel full. Carb counting or counting the calories from carbohydrates you eat in a day can also help as foods high in carbs break down into glucose quicker than other foods. A good diet for prediabetes focuses on eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, seafood, and lean protein. You need to also limit how much saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars you eat. Avoid and limit sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices, processed snacks like cookies and chips, red meat, alcohol, and any foods with added sugars. Portion control is also imperative as you can eat a healthy diet but still overeat and gain weight.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking cigarettes or any tobacco is one of the risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes as well as many other chronic health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Quitting smoking is hard but there are many resources available to help you including nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum, counseling, and support groups.

Reduce stress

Chronic stress can cause a number of different health problems, including prediabetes. When you are stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol which can increase your blood sugar levels as well as lead to weight gain. It is important to find ways to manage and reduce the stress levels in your life and some great ways to do this include regular exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is important for your overall health and can also help to regulate your blood sugar levels. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body raises your cortisol levels which can lead to weight gain and higher glucose levels as we noted above. It is recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Drink plenty of water

Water is important for your overall health and can also help to regulate your blood sugar levels. When you are dehydrated, your body doesn’t function as well and this can lead to higher glucose levels. Water is also a very healthy alternative for any alcoholic beverages, sodas, fruit juices, or sugary drinks you may want to consume.

Consult a dietician or diabetes educator

If you are struggling to manage your blood sugar levels or lose weight, it may be a good idea to consult with a dietician or diabetes educator. They can help you develop a diet plan that fits your individual needs as well as give you tips on how to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Treating any other medical conditions

If you have any other health issues, it is important to get them treated as well. Underlying conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and polycystic ovary syndrome can all increase your risk of prediabetes. Obstructive sleep apnea is also another common condition that can raise your blood glucose level making it important that you treat it to help reverse or prevent prediabetes. Managing these other conditions can help to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes even more.

These are just some healthy lifestyle choices that you can make to help reverse prediabetes. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, it is important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Prescription medication like metformin can also be prescribed to help control your blood sugar levels and you need to take it as prescribed by your doctor along with these lifestyle changes to help reverse your condition.

Can you prevent prediabetes?

Yes, you can prevent prediabetes by making the lifestyle changes that we listed above. You can also prevent prediabetes by managing any other medical conditions you may have and quitting smoking. If you have a family history of diabetes, it is important to talk to your doctor about ways you can prevent the condition. Making these lifestyle changes can help you not only reverse prediabetes but also prevent it from happening in the first place. It is important to talk to your doctor about any changes you plan on making and how they can help you manage your condition.

Summary

Prediabetes is a reversible condition that is often the precursor to type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes as well as other chronic health conditions like heart disease and stroke. There are lifestyle changes you can make to help reverse prediabetes which includes lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking along with several other suggested changes. You can also prevent prediabetes with a combination of lifestyle changes as well as managing any other medical conditions you may have too. If you have any more questions about prediabetes or how to treat it, please consult with your doctor, health care provider, dietician, or nutritionist to get a diabetes treatment plan that is specialized for you.

References and sources:

CDC

Mayo Clinic 

Healthline

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Jacqueline Hensler and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera. 

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