More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but many more are at risk and are living with a condition called prediabetes. Patients whose blood glucose is too high to be considered normal but are not diabetic are considered to be in the danger zone. "The criteria for prediabetes is a fasting blood sugar between 100-125 and the results of another test called a hemoglobin A1C, which checks what blood sugar has been over the last three months," says Dr. Ruth S. Horowitz, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology at GBMC. "If the A1C is between 5.7 and 6.4, the blood sugar is moderately elevated and indicates prediabetes.”
Luckily, if you've been diagnosed with prediabetes, the progression to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. There are lifestyle changes you can make to take control of your blood sugar. Focus on cutting high-carbohydrate foods, which easily break down into glucose and raise blood sugar levels faster than the body can produce sufficient insulin. By limiting the amount of carbohydrates you consume, the body can dispose of the glucose more effectively and maintain a normal blood sugar level. Dr. Horowitz recommends the following:
- Limit highly-concentrated sweets, such as sugared drinks, juices, candy and cookies.
- Replace starchy dishes like potatoes, rice, pasta, peas and corn with complex carbohydrates such as broccoli, asparagus and spinach.
- Watch your fruit portion sizes. One serving of fruit is 1 small apple, orange or pear, half a banana or a ½ cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit. Space out your servings of fruits throughout the day, rather than consuming them all at once.
Working out is another effective way to stop diabetes in its tracks. Muscle is the largest consumer of glucose. By exercising, you increase the movement of glucose into the muscle, where it is broken down into energy and lowers blood glucose levels. Try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise that raises your heart rate at least five times a week.
If you want to learn more about prediabetes or diabetes, visit www.gbmc.org/diabetes for information. Some GBMC primary care practice locations offer free educational classes and one-on-one sessions for people with type 2 diabetes. Learn about controlling your diabetes, meal planning, regulating medication and more. Visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com to find a primary care provider who can help you develop a healthy action plan and connect you with a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.