Prediabetes: It’s Time to Manage Your Health
More than one in three American adults have prediabetes, a serious health issue that can lead to diabetes. Prediabetes has no clear symptoms and can only be detected with a blood test. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but are not in the diabetes range.
If your doctor has told you that you have prediabetes, this doesn’t mean you are destined to get diabetes, but it does mean you are at a higher risk than someone without prediabetes.
Awareness is critical in preventing prediabetes from progressing to diabetes.
Know your risk. Take the diabetes risk test through the American Diabetes Association.
Consult with Your Doctor
Regular checkups with your doctor are important to confirm that you have prediabetes. Your doctor will check your fasting blood sugar levels as part of your regular exam.
If you learn that you have prediabetes, or are at risk, then you and your doctor can come up with a plan to improve your health and lessen the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Being overweight is a top reason for getting type 2 diabetes. The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to adopt a healthy lifestyle – one that features regular exercise and smart food choices.
Even losing a small amount of weight will help – a five to seven percent weight loss lessens the risk of developing diabetes if you have prediabetes. It can also lower your blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
When you choose to exercise regularly you take an active role in managing your care. Ask your doctor about activities that are safe for you. For most people, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, helps to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
The bottom line: Exercise is critical. If you’re eating healthy and exercising, then your risk of developing diabetes decreases significantly.
5 Tips for Exercising
- Exercise with a friend (dogs count). Studies show you’re less likely to skip a workout when you have someone counting on you.
- Try something new, like a yoga class, or dancing. Make it a moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as gardening, walking, or swimming.
- Include strength training at least twice a week. Resistance bands are a comfortable and affordable at-home option. Muscle burns four times as many calories as fat does.
- Find ways to be more active in what you do every day. Take the stairs whenever possible, like at a mall or an airport. Use the bathroom on different floors at work.
- Plan specific actions. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you set a specific action plan – for instance, “I’ll walk for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
Adopt a Healthier Diet
To keep your blood sugar from rising and prevent prediabetes, you need to be more conscious of what you are eating. Choose foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories and fat. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great because they are high in fiber.
7 Ways to Achieve a Healthier Diet
- Skip sodas and juice. Sugary drinks are empty calories. Have water instead, or try calorie-free drinks. Drinking water lowers your blood sugar and fills you up without adding calories to your diet.
- Eat smaller portions of your usual foods. Eating smaller portions will help you lose weight and thereby lower your risk for prediabetes. When you eat out, split your meal with a friend or family member, or take half home for a meal the next day.
- Fill up on vegetables and fruits instead of cake, pie or cookies. Vegetable, fruits, beans and whole grains are healthy, high-fiber foods that can help you control blood sugar.
- Limit alcoholic beverages. Women should limit themselves to one drink a day, and men two.
- Choose healthy sources of fats. Use healthy oils, such as canola, olive and vegetable, and use them in small amounts. Eat nuts, seeds, and avocados.
- Choose lean meats and choose fish. White-meat turkey or chicken, without the skin, is a good choice.
- Limit fried foods. Roast, broil, grill, steam, bake or microwave foods instead of frying them, because frying adds harmful fat to foods.
The Bottom Line: Diet and Exercise can Delay or Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
The way to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes is to choose a healthy lifestyle. In particular, you should:
- Make a plan with your doctor to manage your condition
- Get your fasting blood sugar levels checked regularly
- Take medications if needed, as prescribed by your doctor
- Track your progress
- Stop smoking, if you smoke
- Exercise regularly
WHA has Fitness Center Membership Discounts
WHA members interested in getting fit and staying healthy can choose Active&Fit Direct, which allows them to work out at any fitness center in their network. The monthly cost is just $25 (plus tax where applicable) – that’s less than $1 a day! In addition, WHA has partnerships with other health clubs that are not part of the Active&Fit network. For details on all discounts, visit mywha.org/gyms or call Member Services at 888.563.2250.