What is prediabetes and why does it matter?

Knowing the risk factors for prediabetes can help prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes.

Do you have a strong family history or diabetes? Is your ethnicity Latino, Asian, Native-American or African-American? Did you have Diabetes in pregnancy? Are you overweight or obese? Do you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may have a chance of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) at some time during your life. T2D is concerning because it can lead to many other health issues, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputations, to name a few. T2D can take many years to develop which can make it hard to detect.

The possibility of developing Diabetes is frightening for anyone who has these risk factors, but because the disease takes many years to develop there is an opportunity for you to make some changes to stay diabetes-free.

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Infographic by the American Heart Association

An article studying prediabetes declared prediabetes as a worldwide epidemic. Prediabetes is fasting blood sugars between 100 and 125 or an abnormal result on an oral glucose tolerance test. Prediabetes is the warning sign of the possibility of diabetes developing in the future, but it can be treated and delayed.

Tips to delaying or preventing T2D:
  • Know your family history and discuss your concerns with your doctor.
  • Medication may be another conversation with your doctor to get your blood sugars under control.
  • Have blood glucose levels checked, either orally or through fasting testing.
  • If BMI is greater than 25 a goal may be to work on losing weight.
  • Eat primarily plant-based foods with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Choosing lower fat meats considering fish in place of other animal-based foods.
  • Be physically active every day. Short bouts of exercise go a long way to make changes in your health.

T2D is a serious disease, but there are options to delay or prevent the disease from becoming chronic. Now is the time to begin to make some lifestyle changes. Small healthy steps pay you back tenfold when it comes to your health. Michigan State University Extension offers programs to help prevent, delay and live with diabetes.

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