There are nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. who have diabetes and another 86 million Americans who are pre-diabetic according to the American Diabetes Association.
Pre-diabetes, like diabetes, is a serious condition because it affects the heart, circulatory system, eyes, feet and kidneys.
What are the signs of pre-diabetes?
Unfortunately, warning signs aren’t always apparent. Symptoms may include:
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent need to urinate
- Blurred vision
The main risk factors associated with pre-diabetes are:
- Body mass index greater than 25
- Sibling or parent with diabetes
- No regular exercise program
- For women, having gestational diabetes and giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds
How can I prevent pre-diabetes?
Medication is not the primary way to fight diabetes. Simply getting some regular exercise and portioning your food intake is the No. 1 therapy in reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
Research has shown you can delay and even prevent diabetes from occurring by losing even a modest amount of weight and starting a consistent exercise program. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight improves the body’s ability to use blood sugars more effectively.
Foods rich in carbohydrates – sodas, juices, bread, potatoes – stimulate the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin, which allow carbohydrates (sugars) to leave the blood and enter tissues such as the brain and muscles. If there is insufficient insulin or there are too many sugars at any one time, such as in overeating, the body can’t remove the sugars from the blood, which raises blood sugars.
While our muscles need the extra sugars to perform tasks and burn fat, too much “belly weight” can accentuate the problem by making insulin less effective and further increase blood sugars.
What can I do if I’ve experienced signs of pre-diabetes or if I have a risk factor?