An estimated 7 million people in the UK has pre-diabetes – that’s 15% of the population. Most don’t know it. Happily, the condition is often reversible and it’s all to do with the foods you eat. Here’s what you need to do to reduce your risk.
Many people are totally unaware that they’ve developed pre-diabetes. Even more troubling is that if these people do not change their lifestyles they are likely to be developing type 2 diabetes in as little as five to ten years.
It is essential to take steps to reduce your pre-diabeties risk because pre-diabetes is reversible. Type 2 diabetes is not.
What is pre-diabeties?
Like diabetes, pre-diabetes occurs when the body’s response to insulin is impaired. If you have pre-diabetes, you are said to have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. You may also be said to have ‘insulin resistance’; that is your body is less able to cope with carbohydrates than it will have once been.
Levels of blood glucose are higher than normal in pre-diabetes which indicates the body in failing to properly process glucose into energy. At this stage the readings are not yet high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes, but they are cause for concern.
This is why it is often described as the “gray area” between normal blood sugar and diabetic levels. In the UK, around 7 million people are estimated to have prediabetes and thus have a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes
What are the symptoms of pre-diabetes?
Here’s the problem; pre-diabetes does not usually display obvious symptoms, making it difficult for people to realise they already have it. In many cases, the sufferer only learns of their borderline diabetic state once the symptoms of type 2 diabetes start to appear.
Still, as this video by Diabetes UK shows, there are several warning signs that indicate it’s time to have a blood test.
Video: The symptoms of pre-diabetes by Diabetes UK (3.14 seconds)
How can I lower my risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes?
Regular physical activity can significantly reduce your diabetes risk.
When a research team at Harvard School of Public Health conducted a meta-analysis of ten studies they found that people who regularly exercised at a moderate intensity had a 31% reduction in their risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to those who did no exercise at all.
Small changes, like walking to work or taking the stairs rather than the lift, can make big changes too. The same Harvward study found that people who walked briskly for at least two and a half hours every week had a 30% lower chance of developing diabetes than those who hardly walked at all.
Interestingly, these findings were not only similar for men and women, but also entirely independent of the people’s weight.
Change the way you eat
Eating a balanced diet plays an important part in reducing your risk of pre-diabetes, as do the types of food you’re eating.
Fill up on vegetables and wholegrain and limit energy-dense foods and drinks like cakes and soft drinks as treats. Try no sugar and low sugar treats as an alternatives like the ones we include in our diabetic hampers.
Eat more oily fish, limit processed meats and snack on nuts. Studies show that women who eat around 25g of nuts every day enjoy a 27% lower risk of diabetes, compared with women who rarely ate nuts.
Try to include more diabetes-friendly recipes in your diet.
Take all this advice on board, and visit the Diabetes UK website for more information and you will successfully reduce your pre-diabetes.