If you had to guess the number of Americans living with undiagnosed prediabetes, what do you think the number would be? We would be willing to bet that most American adults don’t know that over 1 out of 3 of us have prediabetes, or that 9 out of 10 of these prediabetics don’t even realize it. This is an alarming stat, especially considering that the CDC tells us that without intervention, prediabetes could lead to major health issues. Here’s what you need to know before it affects you.
Your body produces the hormone insulin to help control blood sugar. Insulin transports glucose into your cells from your bloodstream. Prediabetes can develop when your body isn’t able to make enough insulin or starts to have trouble making use of it properly. As a result, your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes is still considered a serious health condition and is not to be taken lightly. Without intervention, prediabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke and full blown diabetes.
You can have prediabetes without symptoms so knowing risk factors are important for early detection.
Weight. Being overweight (with a BMI higher than 25) increases your risk.
Waist measurement. A larger waist measurement (40+ inches for men, 35+ inches for women) can indicate insulin resistance.
Lack of physical activity. Not getting enough exercise can increase your risk.
Dietary patterns. Eating red meat, processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages increases your risk.
Race and ethnicity. Prediabetes is more common among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. It is unclear why.
Age. Your risk increases with age, particularly if you are 45 years old or older.
Family history. Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes increases your risk.
Gestational diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes while pregnant, you and your child are at greater risk for prediabetes.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides. These conditions are often associated with having prediabetes.
The good news is, prediabetes can often be reversed with lifestyle adjustments. Eating healthier foods, maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of physical activity make a tremendous difference. All of these efforts can help get your blood glucose level back into the normal range — and help you feel great!
Talk to you doctor about your risk of prediabetes sooner, rather than later. There are simple blood tests that can be done to test your blood sugar levels and keep you on the path to a healthy, diabetes-free life.