In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes. So, prediabetes is serious business indeed. In this condition the blood glucose levels are lower than diabetic levels, but are still elevated. Before breakfast the normal blood sugar reading is between 70 and 99 mg/dl. This is called a fasting blood sugar. ‘The fasting levels of blood sugar in a prediabetic range are 100 to 125 mg/dl. Actually three more tests help to confirm the diagnosis of pre-diabetes or diabetes: oral glucose tolerance test, A1C (which measures your average blood glucose level over the past two or three months), and a urinary analysis (which checks to see if there is protein or sugar in the urine). Please get these tests if you have one or more of these risk factors. The more factors you have, the greater your risk for prediabetes and diabetes.
- Impaired glucose test previously
- Being 45 or older
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being overweight, especially having belly-fat
- Having a waist size greater than half your height
- Being sedentary
- Having high pressure and/or elevated triglycerides, or low levels of HDL cholesterol
- Having/had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
- Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and natives to Alaska have a higher risk for diabetes.
Additional risk factors not commonly mentioned include sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength), liver inflammation, a low level of vitamin D, and heavy alcohol consumption.
Test Results Speak Volumes:
Fasting blood sugar:
- Diabetes: 126 mg/dl to 124
- Prediabetes: 100 to 125 mg/dl
- Diabetes: 6.5% greater on two occasions;
- Prediabetes: 5.7-6.4%
Oral Glucose Test
- Diabetes: Any value over 200 mg/dl.
- Prediabetes: an OGT test 2 hours (after eating) of 140-199 mg./dl.
Dangers from Prediabetes
Just as diabetes impacts virtually every body system and many vital organs including the heart, brain, kidneys, and liver, prediabetes also compromises many organs and systems. Prediabetes increases one’s risk for chronic kidney disease. This condition also increases the risk of undesirable blood clots, https://wildwoodhealth.com/blog/ten-strategies-to-reduce-your-stroke-risk, and cardiovascular diseases. In other words, you do not have to develop frank diabetes to be in serious trouble. Even though one might not have any noticeable symptoms with prediabetes, trouble is brewing. Here are a few complications that can eventually result from prediabetes:
- Impairs the ability of blood vessels to dilate
- Damages both large and small blood vessels; asymptomatic peripheral vascular disease is common
- Increases risk for heart attack and stroke up to 50%
- Damages kidneys as indicated by protein in the urine
- Develops neuropathy, or disease of the nerves, eventually leading to numbness, tingling, and burning sensation in your extremities, slowing of reflex, and muscle atrophy
- Greater risk of brain shrinkage that occurs with aging and diseases such as dementia
- Increases the risk for cancer by 15%
Fully developed diabetes accelerates, intensifies, and increases the risk of the above conditions even more.
Insulin Made Simple
Insulin is the hormone made by the pancreas that allows our bodies to utilize and store glucose. By helping cells in the skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, and liver to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, insulin lowers blood glucose levels. It stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose, which is then called glycogen. Insulin also lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. Whatever hinders insulin from performing its jobs is doing a disservice to the entire body because each cell needs fuel (glucose) to function properly and suffers when deprived.
Compromised Insulin Efficiency
When our fasting blood glucose (sugar) level begins to rise, the doctor may refer to it as insulin resistance, a condition in which the body produces insulin, but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. What do the experts say causes insulin resistance? In simple terms, they think that excess weight, and lack of exercise greatly contributes to this condition. Belly fat plays an important role in insulin resistance and is more than just a storage area for future fuel. It produces hormones and inflammatory agents that can cause serious health problems such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.
To compensate for this problem, the pancreas releases more insulin. This, however, does not help because the problem is the damaged insulin receptors on the cells. Saturated fats and trans fats are two dietary culprits that damage insulin receptors. Excessive amounts of cortisol can do it also. Unfortunately, excess insulin (especially if other cardiovascular factors are present) accelerates the process of atherosclerosis, increases the risk of cancer, and makes appetite more difficult to control.
Lifestyle Changes Help
Professor Guangwei Li has presented the results from the 23-year follow up of the Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study, showing that people with impaired glucose tolerance who followed improved lifestyle interventions had significantly reduced death rates from cardiovascular disease and all-causes, compared to those patients in a control group.1 Professor Nick Wareham of Cambridge University, UK, and author of a linked Comment on the study, describes the results as “a real breakthrough, showing that lifestyle intervention can reduce the risk of long-term cardiovascular consequences of diabetes.”2
As for as lifestyle strategies, healthful,plant-based diet and exercise remain the cornerstones in diabetes prevention and treatment. Meat-eaters had significantly higher risk of developing diabetes, compared with people who avoided meat.3 A well-balanced, plant-based, high fiber diet (whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds) combined with exercise help to reduce elevated glucose levels even when not accompanied by weight loss. Six studies have demonstrated that a vegetarian diet improves A1C.4 Seven studies show that consumption of a vegetarian diet is associated with lower blood pressure.5 A whole food, plant-based diet suppresses inflammation6 so common in obesity, prediabetes, diabetes, and hypertension. Researchers from Loma Linda University examined 8,401 participants (ages 45-88 years) and followed them for 17 years.7 They discovered:
- Subjects who were weekly consumers of all meats were 29% more likely to develop diabetes than those who ate no meat.
- Subjects who consumed any processed meats (salted fish and frankfurters) were 38% more likely to develop diabetes.
- Long-term adherence (over a 17-year interval) to a diet, that included at least weekly meat intake, was associated with a 74% increase in odds of diabetes relative to long-term adherence to a vegetarian diet (zero meat intake).
- Although some of this might be attributable to obesity, the researchers found that, “even after control for weight and weight change, weekly meat intake remained an important risk factor.”
Move to Live
Exercise just 30 minutes, five days a week, and improve your cells’ ability to respond to insulin. As you can tolerate, include some mild weight training and resistant exercise. Fifteen minutes of interval training in which one alternated high intensity exercise with lower intensity exercise is particularly helpful if one can tolerate it. A short walk after each meal lowers the blood sugar just as effectively as one moderate paced 45 minute walk during the day.8 Moderate-intense exercise reduces fat stored around the heart, in the liver, and in the abdomen of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease and inflammation—all of which are important for the individual who has either prediabetes or diabetes.
Weight loss helps to reduce the risk for developing diabetes in individuals who are obese. If one is obese, just losing 5-7% of his body weight is definitely helpful even if one does not reach his ideal weight. A 200 lb man could 10 pounds and reduce is risk substantially. This is certainly achievable.
One study suggests a 58% reduction of prediabetes progression to diabetes on a program consisting of a healthful diet, regular exercise, and a 5-7% weight loss.9 If these lifestyle changes are not within your grasp, consider coming to Wildwood Lifestyle Center, where a professional staff will make an achievable, tailor-made program that helps reverse your prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor our blog contributors intend it to substitute for individual diagnosis, treatment, or counsel by a qualified health care provider or professional.
© 2018 – 2020, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
- GuangweiLi, Cardiovascular mortality, all-cause mortality, and diabetes incidence after lifestyle intervention for people with impaired glucose tolerance in the Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study: a 23-year follow-up study. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70057-9
- Barnard N, Levin S, Trapp C. Meat consumption as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Nutrients. 2014; 6:897-910
- Yokoyama, Y. Vegetarian diets and glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CardiovascDiagnTher. 2014 Oct; 4(5):373-82
- Hokoyama Y. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: a meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Apr; 174(4):577-87
- Hardman, WE. Diet components can suppress inflammation and reduce cancer risk. Nutr Res Pract. 2014 Jun; 8(3): 233–240
- Katcher, HI. A worksite vegan nutrition program is well-accepted and improves health-related quality of life and work productivity. Ann NutrMetab, 2010; 56(4):245-52
- A Short Walk After Meals Is All It Takes to Lower Blood Sugar, www.healthline.com › Healthline News June 12, 2013, Healthline Networks
- Diabetes Prevention Program, diabetes.niddk.nih.gov. Sept. 9, 2013