Healthy Life: A look at prediabetes

Haverly M. Erskine1:43 p.m. EDT April 27, 2015Karen Baker, lead inpatient diabetes educator at Unity Diabetes Center.(Photo: Provided photo)My doctor asked me if I wanted the bad news or the good news first; I opted for the former.As I sat in an exam room eating my lunch (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with a Swedish Fish chaser), she directed my attention to a wall poster featuring images of chicken, veggies and healthy carbs."Your bloodwork came back," she said. "You need to start rethinking what you eat."The results showed I was pre-diabetic. And I was far from alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 86 million people in the U.S. have the condition, and the number keeps growing.In addition, I am 35, and "People in their 30s are one of the fastest growing populations developing pre-diabetes and diabetes," Dr. R. James Bingham, board-certified in endocrinology and internal medicine, later explained to me.The major contributing factors are obesity and a lack of regular physical exercise, said Bingham, one of the lead doctors at Unity Diabetes Endocrinology Services in Rochester. (For some people, eating sweets makes no difference. But for me, it was leading to insulin resistance.)A patient is classified as pre-diabetic when blood tests show a blood-glucose level that is higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes.In type 2 diabetes, the body still produces insulin, but it's either not making enough or has become resistant to its effects. And let's be clear: Insulin is important. It's the hormone that moves sugar from the bloodstream to cells to give us energy. Without it, sugar floats in the bloodstream and can damage nerves and organs.Pre-diabetics and diabetics experience similar physiological changes, Bingham continued. The two most important are insulin resistance (more insulin is needed to get sugar into cells) and insulin deficiency (the pancreas produces less insulin). People with pre-diabetes have a 50 percent risk over a 10-year period of developing full-blown diabetes, Bingham said.Those physiological symptoms don't necessarily produce actual symptoms. So how do you know whether you have pre-diabetes? Get your blood tested - especially if you are overweight, physically inactive, have a first-degree relative with diabetes, have a history of cardiovascular disease, have high cholesterol, and/or are African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander. (My bloodwork was part of a routine physical exam.)It was time for my sweet tooth to take a back seat to the reality that I was on the fast track to diabetes. The good news, however, was that I could reverse the diagnosis. And although medications now are available to prevent diabetes, behavioral changes yield better results, said Karen Baker, lead inpatient diabetes educator at Unity Diabetes Center."In a Diabetes Prevention Program research study, participants who made modest behavior changes were able to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by over 50 percent," she explained. "The other group that was given a drug used to treat diabetes saw a 31 percent return to normal glucose levels."Would I have to join a gym, lose 40 pounds, cut sugar out of my diet completely?Fortunately, the answer was none of the above. Baker explained that for most people, a 5 to 7 percent weight loss and at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week is all that's needed. As for my diet, she said it would be best for me to focus on moderation rather than avoidance. Of course, sugar-laden foods without any nutritional value should be left on grocery store shelves.Bottom line: Pre-diabetes can lead to diabetes. Diabetes can lead to other health issues, such as heart disease; nerve, eye and kidney damage; and possible lower limb amputation.I needed no further convincing. I started exercising a few days a week at home (no costly gym membership) and have made some http://freediabetesinformation.biz/ - recipes for diabetes pdf - changes to my diet (I don't eat Swedish Fish on a regular basis anymore, though I still have candy occasionally). I've lost a few pounds (though not 5 to 7 percent of my body weight) and am no longer pre-diabetic.I've got this. And so do you.Blood tests used to diagnose:A1C: It measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. You don't have to fast or drink anything. Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG): It checks your fasting blood-glucose levels. Fasting means after not having anything to eat or drink (except water) for at least 8 hours before the test. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): It is a two-hour test that checks your blood-glucose levels before and two hours after you drink a special sweet drink. It tells the doctor how your body processes glucose.Read or Share this story: http://on.rocne.ws/1Gyw1Un