According to the American Diabetes Association, 29 million Americans have diabetes. But those numbers are nothing compared to the 86 million people who have prediabetes. That means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. A diagnosis means it’s time for a change.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have prediabetes, the long-term damage of diabetes, especially to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys, may already be starting.
Alison Massey, RD, CDE, LDN, MS, the Director of Diabetes Education at Mercy Medical Center said, “Unless you are going to regular checkups and getting bloodwork done, you probably feel fine.”
Rapid weight loss, blurred vision or feeling thirsty all the time are not present in prediabetes.
“Starting at age 45, we should be screening every three years for type 2 diabetes. However, some people are at risk even earlier than that,” said Amber Champion, MD, Endocrinologist at Mercy Medical Center.
A study out of the New England Journal of Medicine found something more effective than any drug in reducing diabetes risk, especially if you’re prediabetic.
Dr. Champion said, “Losing weight can really be beneficial in preventing the onset or delaying the onset of diabetes for many years.”
Dr. Champion said if you’re overweight, reduce your body weight by just five to seven percent, exercise at least 30 minutes, five times a week, and cut back on sugary drinks. Also, try to make vegetables 50 percent of each meal and increase your fiber intake. These lifestyle changes reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent.
The CDC said as many as 30 percent of those with prediabetes progress to diabetes within five years.