What if I told you that:
You'll hear all kinds of descriptions of prediabetes, each of which gives you a piece of the puzzle that is prediabetes. Prediabetes is 'slightly high blood sugar". Prediabetes is "insulin resistance" due to being overweight. Prediabetes is when "your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes". All true - and for many of my clients, all underwhelming.
A description of prediabetes that in my experience is very helpful and motivating, because it actually gives you a visual that points towards what you need to do to stop prediabetes, is that prediabetes occurs when calorie and sugar intake have been so high, for so long, that the liver becomes overwhelmed and fat begins to deposit in our internal organs - organs that were never meant to act as fat storage depots. When even tiny amounts of fat accumulate in the liver and pancreas, these organs stop being able to do their jobs, and prediabetes (and diabetes) can result. This information about the underpinnings of prediabetes is based on research done at Newcastle University by Dr Roy Taylor, who has demonstrated in several research studies that if you can get the fat out of these critical blood-sugar-regulating organs, you can reverse Type 2 diabetes in some people. Reverse Type 2 diabetes? This is radical stuff, and has caused a lot of controversy in treatment and disease management circles.
Since prediabetes is a mile-marker on the road to Type 2 diabetes, this research gives us great insight into what is going on, internally, as our blood sugar begins to creep up outside of the normal range and into prediabetes territory.
So let's talk about those "Gotcha" Facts.
1. You don't have to be overweight to have prediabetes or diabetes. Why? Because it's all about whether there's fat in those blood-sugar regulating organs. If you're within the "normal" weight range BMI under 25.0 (some groups have different normal weight BMI cutoffs - for example, 23.0 for Asian adults), but due to genetics have a lower fat tolerance threshold in your liver and pancreas... or if you drink excessive amounts of sweet drinks as another example, overwhelming your liver and resulting in fat deposition there - you could still develop, or be developing prediabetes and diabetes. even at a 'normal' weight.
2. The other name for Type 2 diabetes is "adult-onset" diabetes. Thirty years ago Type 2 diabetes (and prediabetes) happened to 'old' people (hey, the youngsters would call me an old person too, so no calling me out), but not today. We have unprededented numbers of children, teens, and young adults developing prediabetes and diabetes these days. Adults in their 40s are often and increasingly diagnosed, or are walking around unaware they have prediabetes. You can find out more about HERE.
3. Great news - you CAN stop or slow the progression of prediabetes to diabetes. Even if you have a family history of diabetes or are of a higher-risk ethnicity (such as Hispanic, Pacific Islander, East Indian, Asian, Native American, African American), it is NOT a foregone conclusion that you're going to develop diabetes. Even if you aren't able to prevent diabetes forever, delaying onset by 10 years or more can make a difference later in terms of the severity of complications of diabetes you experience. Lifestyle choices really matter. Being consistent in doing healthier things really matters. That's why I don't recommend relying only on personal choice and willpower. I suggest you learn more about the modern diabetes-creators and set up some rules or protections to keep many of these away from your family and your daily routine.
Drinking sweet drinks (even juice or juice drinks, sweet tea or most smoothies) with meals or when you're thirsty should be a NO GO zone. Instead of trying not to drink sodas and teas that are in the house, I suggest creating a rule or protection for the family - no sweet drinks in the house at all ... and have plenty of safe, good-tasting water on hand instead (you can make herbal or fruit flavored teas from tea bags, then chill for delicious, 0 cal drinks, for example).
Sitting in front of the TV every night, or sitting while on your phone for hours in the evening. Almost all of us sit too much, and there is mounting research about how excessive TV hours per week will take years from your life... about how being sedentary is bad for your cholesterol, your mood, your weight... about how sitting for long periods is now considered to be an independent health risk factor (even if you meet the goals for aerobic exercise in a given week)... So decide on a new routine. Set a rule or protection that after dinner, you walk (or the family walks together) before TV. Once you're out and about, who knows who you'll talk to, what will grab your attention, and what adventures you'll have? If you want to.... get a dog to walk!
What we don't know CAN hurt us. Deciding there is nothing we can do, or frustrating ourselves doing the WRONG things, is a tragedy. I say, learn to pin-point the common diabetes-creators of the 21st century so you can navigate around them and do EVERYTHING YOU CAN to avoid prediabetes and diabetes.
With 85 million Americans estimated to have prediabetes, yet only 8 million aware they have it , the time is NOW.
For prediabetes FAQs, visit the Cheat Diabetes Prediabetes Information Page.
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