According to the American Diabetes Association, about 86 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition that can become far more serious if left unchecked. And many of those people with prediabetes? They don’t even know they have it.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics describes having prediabetes as having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to diagnose someone with diabetes.
“Many people are unaware that they have this issue because there are no real symptoms associated with having a slightly evaluated blood glucose level,” said Ivy Sheehan with the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Regional Diabetes Center.
So, how does someone find out if they have prediabetes?
“A simple test at the doctor’s office can confirm whether or not you meet the criteria for a diagnosis,” Sheehan said.
If you haven’t been to see the doctor in a while, or haven’t had a blood glucose test, there are several risk indicators that could give you an idea of whether or not you’re one of those 86 million people with prediabetes:
- You’re overweight;
- You have a family history of diabetes;
- You’re over the age of 45;
- You get very little physical activity.
ADA research indicates that once the condition develops, it’s not possible to get rid of prediabetes. However, with some lifestyle changes, it is possible to stop prediabetes from developing into Type 2 diabetes.
“Losing weight is the first step, along with exercising and eating healthy foods following as the second and third steps,” Sheehan said. “Drinking more water and having fewer sugary drinks can reduce overall fluid calories.”
Sheehan also recommends meeting with a dietitian to discuss a daily caloric goal for weight loss, along with devising a diet that provides a balance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Making a habit of physical activity has to be a part of the plan, as well. Swimming, playing tennis and riding a bike are ambitious goals, but you could also simply dedicate yourself to walking regularly.
“Get out there and get moving!” Sheehan said. “Check with your doctor if you are concerned about having prediabetes, and find out earlier so you can start making changes today!”