f your blood sugar levels are regularly higher than 100 mg/dL but lower than 125 mg/dL you are prediabetic. The scary thing is, you can be prediabetic while experiencing no warning signs that your health is on a downward spiral towards becoming diabetic.
The best way to determine if you are at risk for diabetes — or already prediabetic — is to take a simple health risk assessment that is now available through the Personalabs website.
You are at risk of becoming diabetic when you’re overweight, older than 45 years old, and don’t exercise regularly.
People who are prediabetic are more likely to get type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The good news is that you can take steps now to save your health and reverse the march towards becoming diabetic. Here’s how:
You don’t have to lose an enormous amount of weight to reverse the likelihood of becoming diabetic. Trimming your weight by just 7% can make all the difference. For a 200-pound person, that means you only have to lose 14 pounds.
How to do that? Start by eating healthier food with fewer calories and keep track of your weight, eating habits, and physical activities.
Choose Healthier Foods
It’s recommended that half your plate at every meal be filled with non-starchy vegetables (asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and carrots, among many others). One quarter of your plate should have starchy foods (like potatoes, corn, or peas). The remaining quarter of your plate should be high-quality protein — chicken, fish, or beans are best. Avoid eating high-carb foods like doughnuts, cookies, cakes, or pasta because they will raise your blood sugar.
Regular exercise will help you lose weight faster and feel better. You don’t have to join an expensive gym or work out for hours every day, either. Simply taking a brisk walk five times a week is all that’s really needed to get started. It helps to have a walking or exercise buddy to help you stay motivated and encourage you to stick to your exercise routine. Swimming, dancing, and strength training (weight lifting, pushups, pull-ups) are also recommended forms of exercise that will help you maintain good health and avoid getting diabetes.
Get Plenty of Sleep
A good night’s sleep also helps to maintain blood sugar at healthy levels. People who can’t stay asleep, wake up too early, or get less than 5 hours a night of sleep are more prone to becoming diabetic. Aim for 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night. Resist the temptation to drink alcohol or coffee late in the day, and go to bed at a regular time each night.
People who smoke are 30% to 40% more likely to get type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. If you do get diabetes and continue to smoke, your diabetic symptoms can be made even worse by smoking. Smoking also makes it harder to control optimal blood sugar levels.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Be sure to follow the directions for any prescribed medications you are taking to maintain good health and live longer.
Engaging in enjoyable social activities and the support of friends and family also helps to maintain good health. You may also want to find and join support groups where you can share your experiences and concerns, learn from others and get and give encouragement and understanding. Your doctor or local mental health association can help you find a support group that is right for you.
Test Your Blood Levels Regularly for Best Results
If your first blood test indicates that you are prediabetic or at risk for diabetes, it’s a good idea to check your blood levels every six months to monitor your progress. Changing your lifestyle habits so that you are eating healthier foods, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and quitting smoking can improve your health dramatically and extend your life for years to come.