Pre-diabetes is the condition that precedes diabetes. It was formerly referred to as Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.
The American Diabetes Association has since used the term pre-diabetes to underline the seriousness of the condition. According to scientific studies, if this condition is ignored, it can lead to high level of glucose in the blood and increases the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes within 10 years.
The symptoms of pre-diabetes develop very gradually and it is not easily recognized. However the high level of glucose and insulin in your blood may already be slowing causing damages to your heart, kidney, arteries, nerves and eyes.
The good news with pre-diabetes is that it can be reversed or managed with some changes to your eating habits and regular exercise.
Pre-diabetes is due to our body’s inability to cope with our modern day diet that is laden with processed carbohydrates, fats and sugar and a sedentary life style. Our forefather consumed mainly unprocessed food and led a mostly more active lifestyle. Pre-diabetes (or diabetes) were not prevalent then.
In healthy person, carbohydrates that are eaten are converted into glucose in the digestive process which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Blood sugar rises and the pancreas releases insulin that helps glucose to get into the cells for energy production. As the sugar level falls, insulin production is stopped.
In a pre-diabetic, the cells develop a resistance to insulin and refuse to let insulin push the glucose in. This causes the glucose level to remain high in the blood.
In order to bring the glucose level down, the pancreas releases more insulin that eventually pushes most if not all of the glucose into the cells. By then you have excess insulin in your blood stream that is as damaging as having high level of glucose.
In pre-diabetes that is usually nothing wrong with the pancreas ability to produce and release insulin. Rather it is the cells that are becoming insensitive to insulin.
You are considered pre-diabetic if your fasting blood sugar level is between 5.6 and 6.9 mmol/L. Between 3.9 and 5.5 mmol/L is normal while above 7 mmol/L is considered diabetic.
Other than the blood test, you may be at risk of having pre-diabetes if you are overweight. Studies show that 80 percent of people with insulin resistance are overweight. Check your waist line. If you are a male and your waist line is more than 35.5 inches or if you are a female and your waist line is over 31.5 inches, you may be at risk of having pre-diabetes.
If your HDL cholesterol is low (less than 1.1 mmol/L for men and below 1.5 mmol/L for women) you may be at risk. High levels of insulin in the blood can cause HDL levels to do down and increase your risk of heart disease. You are also at risk if your triglycerides level is high (more than 1.5 mmol/L). High triglycerides level is often accompanied by high total cholesterol, high LDL or bad cholesterol and low HDL.
High blood pressure of 130/85 or higher is also a risk factor. Excess insulin can narrow the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow. This pushes the blood pressure up.
There is also a genetic connection. Almost 80 percent of pre-diabetic have family members with a history of Type-2 diabetes.
Finally you are also at risk if you live a sedentary lifestyle and consume a huge amount of simple or processed carbohydrates.
The first step is to lose some weight if you are overweight. Excess insulin in the blood can promote storage of excess fats. The more weight (or fats) that you put on, the more insulin resistance you develop.
Losing weight is an effective way to lower you insulin level and reducing insulin resistance.
How do you know if you are overweight? A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal. Anything above is overweight. Even higher is obese. You can also use waist measurement. Over 35.5 inches for men and over 31.5 inches for women are considered obese.
Next try to eat better. Reduce your intake of processed and refined carbohydrates. Reduce consumption of sugar and limit your intake of saturated fats. Take plenty of fiber rich fruits and vegetables.
Avoid foods and oils that contain trans fatty acids. Restrict salt as they are bad for your blood pressure. Eat cold water fish for their omega-3 fatty acids and avoid food that are cooked at high temperature or charred. And do not forget to drink plenty of water.
Next try to get plenty of exercise. When you exercise, your muscles can absorb glucose from the bloodstream without insulin thereby lowering your blood glucose level. Exercise can also increase your cells sensitivity to insulin.
Next take some food supplement such as zinc, magnesium, vitamins C and E and herbs such as fenugreek and bitter gourd that has proven abilities to control blood sugar.
Finally and if necessary get a drug that helps. Always seek your doctor’s advice as drugs can be dangerous and have undesirable side effects.