Prediabetes is a common yet serious condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes is increasingly worrying as close to about 84 million Americans have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).If left untreated, prediabetes can eventually increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.
Although a prediabetes diagnosis may sound intimidating, the good news is that it is possible to reverse prediabetes. Making simple lifestyle changes can help you prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes.
Ways to reverse prediabetes naturally
Here are some achievable steps you can take right now to get your blood sugar levels in control and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Eat a clean diet
A major risk factor for prediabetes is a diet that contains high amounts of processed foods that have added fats, calories, and sugar with no nutritional value. Eating a clean diet, which contains low glycemic index foods can help restore blood sugar levels to normalcy. This can reverse prediabetes and help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Incorporate low fat and low calorie foods into your diet. These include:
- Fruits with complex carbs
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats, like avocado
Get rid of simple carbs and sweetened beverages altogether. Learn more on carbs and diabetes here.
Not doing any physical activity can invite prediabetes and other health risks. Staying physically active is not only great for energy and mental health, but also to lower blood sugar levels by increasing your insulin sensitivity. This allows the cells in your body to use insulin more efficiently.
As per the American Diabetes Association (ADA), exercising can lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours after a workout. Remember to start slow if you’re a beginner. Engage in any form of light physical activity for 15 or 20 minutes like walking, and then gradually increase the intensity and duration of the workouts after a few days.
Ideally, you’ll want to have 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week. Exercises can include:
- Playing sports
Lose excess weight
Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of a number of serious health conditions, ranging from heart disease and high blood pressure to stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. It has also been associated with reduced insulin sensitivity, which can shift from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
One of the best ways to improve your blood sugar levels and reverse prediabetes is to lose excess body fat. Losing as little as 5% to 7% can also greatly improve your blood sugar. Consider following a weight loss plan that includes regular exercise and healthy eating.
Smoking not only increases the risk of heart diseases and lung cancer but can also trigger insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
You can always get help to quit smoking. Use over-the-counter products such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum. Or, enroll in smoking cessation programs or ask your physician to prescribe medications to help curb nicotine cravings.
Eat fewer carbs
Even if you’re on a healthy eating plan, it is important to pick your carbohydrates carefully.
The most important thing is to avoid simple carbs and refined carbs. They get absorbed quickly into the body and can cause an immediate spike in your blood sugar levels. Cut down on foods like candy, white rice, soda, pizza, sweetened yogurt, and jams. Consume complex carbohydrates, or unprocessed carbs such as non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans. These carbs contain high fiber which helps you stay full longer. They also take time to break down, and so absorbing into your body at a slower rate. This helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
Work with a nutritionist
Knowing what foods to eat with prediabetes can be tricky. Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist to receive nutritional guidance and advice on which foods to eat and which to avoid to successfully reverse prediabetes. They can help you develop a lifestyle plan that is specific to your body requirements and offer other helpful strategies to maintain a healthy diet. The goal is to stabilize your blood sugar.
Having prediabetes does not mean that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes. Taking quick action to reverse the condition by getting your blood sugar to a healthy range is the key. Talk to our diabetes management experts at DrNewMed to get a complete understanding of your condition and how to reverse prediabetes. Visit our clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona or book an online consultation with us.