Diabetes 101: Prediabetes

Hi friends

Happy Friday and a very auspicious Shri Ganesh Chaturthi to you all!

Today is not the right day for this post or maybe, it is THE perfect day! The wisdom to make informed choices is indeed a boon! The festive season has started and not just in India but all over the world, festivals and celebrations are invariably linked to food especially sweets/desserts. We get/make sweets at home, we gorge on fabulous delicacies when we visit someone and we in turn, feed our guests the same.

And that’s the fun of it all, isn’t it? I do just the same. I mean, festivals without food don’t sound so good, do they? Did I tell you about the big sweet-tooth I have had since childhood? Now, the cravings are mostly gone (thanks to a well-balanced diet) and whatever is left, I have learnt to moderate.

And why go through all this trouble of eating better and learning new habits? Life should not be so complicated and limiting, right? YOLO, right? Live life king-size/queen-size, right?

Right. Now is when I start on today’s topic i.e. Prediabetes ?

“A little disclaimer before we begin – when I say sugar from food, it doesn’t necessarily mean only ‘sugary/sweet’ foods, it can be your ketchup/sauce or the chips or even roti/rice. Almost every food has some sugar in it!”

What Is Prediabetes?

In short, a higher than normal blood sugar level…but not so high as to be termed as type 2 diabetes, is termed as prediabetes.

It also means that the long-term damage associated with diabetes such as arteries, heart, stroke, kidney etc. has already begun in the body. It also means that unless one makes necessary diet and lifestyle changes, it might turn into full-fledged diabetes soon. It also means that you have one last chance to reverse it.

Why one last chance? Because though it IS possible for SOME of us to maintain the level of consistent discipline that can reverse type 2 diabetes and hold it at bay even without medication BUT even that doesn’t mean it gets completely cured. I will come to that also, in my subsequent posts but let’s just say that if one is prediabetic, it is far easier to manage/reverse this stage than a full-fledged type 2 diabetic stage.

Causes Of Prediabetes

People with prediabetes are unable to process sugar properly and hence, the sugar from food gets accumulated in blood instead of providing energy to our cells (which is its true job and we do need sugar for it). Processing sugar from blood and taking it to cells require a hormone called insulin.

In prediabetes, this whole process (which is quite complicated in reality), doesn’t work perfectly. There might not be enough insulin made by pancreas or cells might not allow the sugar to enter in. This results in elevated blood-sugar levels and other signs, indicating prediabetes.

Some other risk factors (or associated conditions) are:

  • Being overweight
  • Having a large waist size
  • Fat deposits around abdomen or a paunch
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history and genetics
  • Ethnicity (that includes Indians)
  • Diabetes during pregnancy or Gestational diabetes
  • Smoking
  • PCOS
  • Irregular lipid profile
  • Elevated blood pressure levels

Signs Of Prediabetes

Unfortunately, prediabetes doesn’t have any symptoms and that is why many of us fail to notice it. A simple blood test is the only way to know for sure. However there could be some indications:

  • Darkened skin or dark spots on some parts of body such as neck, armpits, elbow, knuckles, knee etc
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Unexplained fatigue or easy exhaustion
  • Blurry vision

If we notice any of these symptoms, we need to run some bloodwork and get accurate readings from there.

Is It Reversible?

The first question that comes to our mind is, “can prediabetes be reversed?”. Well, it is majorly a lifestyle-related problem so making necessary changes (for life) can reverse it, yes.

But that’s the hard part, isn’t it? This would require huge commitment. If one is willing to work, one can do it. Here are a few pointers, to begin with:

  1. Eat better and healthier – Not advertising myself here but one does require nutritional guidance to reverse prediabetes. Do take the help of a nutritionally-informed doctor/nutritionist if you do not know how and where to start. One can start with reducing processed food consumption and by including more of suitable fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats
  2. Quit smoking if you do. This includes passive smoking
  3. Get a regular exercise plan in place even if it means 30 minutes of brisk walking every day
  4. Lose all that extra weight – losing just 5-7% of our excess weight can decrease the risk by a huge 60%, for most of us
  5. Work on the irregular lipid profile – the LDL, HDL and triglycerides etc.
  6. Get adequate sleep – easy said than done but not impossible, 7 hours would do the trick

A slightly long post today but I do hope it helped you somehow. Do share it around and join me on Instagram for any feedback/queries/DMs as well as regular stories on Health, Nutrition and Fitness.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace