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

Part 2: Reversal Of Insulin Resistance

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How have you all been? Am so glad to be back home! Even if you stay in the best of the hotels and visit the most beautiful places, there is no place like home, is there?

Thank you so much for all your feedback and appreciation for my last post on understanding Insulin resistance-part 1. If you missed it, please read it first, here.

Also, a big thank you to everyone who has recently joined me on Instagram. A big hug too!!! My Instagram handle has changed a bit so henceforth, please use this link to join me there:

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_sk/

I have also received some requests to share the link for the glass tumbler that I use for my milk (from my stories on Instagram). Here it is: https://amzn.to/3nAGEBR

Now that we know what exactly is Insulin resistance and how it has no obvious symptoms as such, it would be wise to not ignore a few signs that could be an indicator for you, to undergo a simple blood test to confirm your suspicions, if you have any.

Let’s say that in the worst case scenario, you found that you have insulin resistance and let’s assume that you are willing to re-evaluate your lifestyle to see how you can prevent further damage and to even reverse the situation in most cases. Great! Perfect! Now, how to go about it?

We might still have time before it turns into full-fledged diabetes. Start today.

It is very basic and simple…and maybe, complicated…depending upon your willingness. If you ask me, we owe it to ourselves and to the concept of living life king-size. Well to live it like a king or a queen, you first need to be healthy otherwise enjoying becomes rather hard, isn’t it?

So, let’s discuss a few things that one can do in order to take care of the Insulin resistance and to prevent further damage. Mind you, one need to apply all these things together and as a permanent lifestyle change.

  • Weight Management – Find out your BMI and your healthy weight and try to come within the normal range. It’s not easy but it is not that hard either. Especially when the payoff saves your life, in more sense than one ?. Did you know that a reduction of 5-7% in body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%? Though Insulin resistance can also prevent weight loss. In such a scenario, please seek professional help such as a doctor or a nutritionist.
  • Exercise – Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day could do wonders. Brisk walk (where you almost jog) is a good way to start. A minimum of 5 days a week is what we should aim for and no less.
  • Nutrition – What you eat is very, very important now. I mean it is always important but now it’s almost critical. It is your body’s last warning to you to start eating well.

So, Reduce or better still, completely stop:

  • sugar intake including that of gur/jaggery, honey etc
  • intake of processed food and junk
  • intake of refined wheat flour/ maida, white bread, bakery items, colas and cookies

Increase:

  • fruits and vegetables in your diet. Try to stick to fruits which are low GI such as cherries, apple, pears, oranges, grapefruit, apricots, plums, strawberries etc
  • whole grains and legumes
  • lean  protein and fish – if you like non-veg
  • add seeds and nuts in moderation, to your diet
  • fibre intake

Apart from this, depending upon the severity of an individual case, if the doctor prescribes any medication, do take it the way it is prescribed to you. I have seen many people go off their medicines or make a full recovery – after they make certain life style changes and make health their priority.

In the end, the choice is ours. If we prefer high BP, heart issues, strokes, kidney problems, eye-problems, cancer, low blood sugar levels and Alzheimer’s Disease over a disciplined lifestyle where we exercise regularly and eat healthy….well, we can choose to be passive and do noting. Till a certain point at least, when that choice is taken away from us. I would rather keep the choice to me, what about you?

Hope today’s post help you in some way. Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part 1

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Hope all safe and healthy. If unwell right now, I wish you speedy recovery.

For me also, its kind of back to March of last year. The last couple of months have been a little relaxed…though masks, sanitizers, social distancing etc were still very much in place. Somehow, the situation has worsened again. My residential compound is sealed and it’s lockdown here in Mumbai anyways. That means no helps, no workouts and back to being a one-woman-army! Client work, cooking, cleaning, laundry on top of managing online schooling/studies for both the girls, it is kind of hard. I almost didn’t get time for today’s blog! I guess it’s true after all that if one really wants to do something, one will find time. Am glad I could 🙂

Today, I want to discuss Insulin resistance with you. It is a lengthy topic so I’ll break it down into two parts, part 1 being today’s post.

First Of All, What Is Insulin?

Insulin is a very important hormone made in our body, by our pancreatic beta cells. This hormone is responsible for converting the glucose that we ingest (through food), into energy.

After we are done eating, the carbohydrates in foods are broken down into glucose which the body absorbs via our intestinal walls into our blood. Then the pancreas releases the hormone Insulin which enables our body-cells to use this glucose for energy.

In short, our blood sugar levels stay balanced due to Insulin. When we have too much glucose, Insulin also tells our liver to store it so that it can be used later in hours of need such as between the meals, stressful situations, fasting and energy for physical exertion/activities.

Now, Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance happens when Insulin is produced alright…but our cells, even liver, don’t respond well to it. As a result, our bodies can’t use glucose in our blood, for energy which ideally happens. Our pancreas gets the wrong signal and it thinks that it’s not making enough Insulin so it makes more.

However, the blood glucose levels go up, stay up and affects us in many harmful ways.

Insulin Resistance vs Diabetes

Oh yes, there is a slight difference. In the case of Insulin resistance, our cells don’t understand the signaling by Insulin and are unable to utilize the glucose efficiently and hence the blood glucose levels increase. However, the levels are generally still not that high as to qualify for diabetic category.

We can call it prediabetes and we can be in this stage for years without even knowing about it. The good news is that it’s easily reversible with proper care.

Diabetes on the other hand, can be of two types, Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1, our body can’t make Insulin hormone at all. In Type2 diabetes, body becomes immune to Insulin and whatever Insulin the body produces is not enough. Liver overproduces Insulin to keep a balance and exhausts itself soon, resulting into diabetes.

How To Detect Insulin Resistance

It is very hard to detect insulin resistance as it has no significant symptoms but that does not make it any less risky. Around 50% of people with prediabetes end up with diabetes later in life, if they do not make any lifestyle changes. Insulin resistance can only by detected by a blood test or glucose tolerance testing. However, a few signs might point to it:

  • Being overweight
  • Irregular lipid profile (low HDL or high cholesterol or high triglycerides)
  • High blood pressure of systolic 130 and above
  • Fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dl
  • waistline over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
  • A skin condition called acanthosis nigricans which is believed to occur due to the buildup of insulin in body. This can be identified by the dark, velvety patches on the back of neck, in armpits or in groin area
  • skin tags
  • Any other symptoms commonly associated with diabetes such as constant hunger, thirst or fatigue

The Bottom Line

Do consider undergoing a simple test – primarily a blood test, to confirm your suspicions in case you see any above-mentioned symptoms of insulin resistance, especially if:

  • you have a sedentary lifestyle or job
  • family history of diabetes
  • had gestational diabetes

Hope you found the post useful. Best weapon against any disease or illness is the knowledge to detect it before it makes irreparable damage to our body. Do join me on Instagram for more regular stories of health, nutrition, fitness and more.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_sk/

Otherwise, till next Friday 🙂

Love, Health & Peace