Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. An estimated 88 million adults in the US have prediabetes, but a majority are unaware they have it. Without making lifestyle changes, 15-30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
The good news is prediabetes can often be reversed through diet, exercise and modest weight loss. By understanding Borderline diabetes, its risk factors and symptoms, you can take steps to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. This guide covers everything you need to know about recognizing, treating and reversing Borderline diabetes.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are above normal but below the diabetes threshold. It indicates insulin resistance and an inability to properly metabolize glucose.
There are two main types of prediabetes:
- Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) – fasting blood sugar of 100-125 mg/dL.
- Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) – 2-hour post-meal glucose of 140-199 mg/dL.
Prediabetes severely raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke if left untreated. The good news is recognizing it early gives you a chance to reverse course through lifestyle interventions.
Prediabetes doesn't usually have clear physical symptoms. Some possible signs include:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing cuts/bruises
- Areas of darkened skin (acanthosis nigricans)
Many people with prediabetes may not experience any symptoms. The only way to know for sure is through blood tests. Everyone over age 45 or overweight should be screened for diabetes every 1-3 years.
Prediabetes Causes and Risk Factors
A number of key risk factors can raise your chances of developing prediabetes. These include:
- Being overweight or obese – Excess weight stresses insulin production. Central obesity around the abdomen poses the greatest risk.
- Sedentary lifestyle – Lack of regular exercise leads to insulin resistance over time.
- Family history – Having a close relative with type 2 diabetes raises your risk.
- Prior gestational diabetes – Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Insulin resistance – Your cells become resistant to insulin's effect over time, forcing the pancreas to overproduce insulin to compensate. This imbalance leads to chronically high blood glucose levels.
- Age – Risk rises as you get older, especially after age 45.
- Race/ethnicity – African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans have an elevated risk for developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Making positive lifestyle changes can help counteract many of these risk factors and prevent Borderline diabetes from progressing to diabetes.
Prediabetes is diagnosed through simple blood tests that measure your blood sugar levels. These include:
- A1C test – This test measures your average blood sugar over the past 2-3 months. A reading of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes.
- Fasting blood sugar test – A blood sample is taken after an 8-hour fast. A level of 100-125 mg/dL points to prediabetes.
- Oral glucose tolerance test – Blood sugar is measured after fasting and again 2 hours after drinking a sugary drink. A 2-hour reading of 140-199 mg/dL suggests Insulin resistance.
Your doctor may recommend repeat testing at regular intervals to monitor blood sugar changes over time. Early screening and diagnosis are crucial – it gives you a chance to prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes Treatment Options
The good news is prediabetes can often be reversed through lifestyle interventions without medication. Treatment focuses on:
1. Losing Excess Weight
Carrying extra pounds stresses your insulin-producing cells. Losing just 5-7% of your body weight can significantly lower blood glucose levels. Aim for slow, steady weight loss through regular exercise and portion control.
2. Exercising Regularly
Regular physical activity makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. Aerobic exercise and strength training help control blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance. Aim for 150 minutes per week of brisk walking, cycling or similar cardio exercise.
3. Healthy Eating
Choose fiber-rich whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables. Avoid refined carbs and sugary foods that spike bloodsugar. Portion control is key for losing weight and controlling blood glucose levels.
4. Stress Management
Chronic stress elevates cortisol and inflammatory markers, worsening insulin resistance. Make time for relaxing activities like yoga, meditation and deep breathing. Get adequate sleep nightly.
5. Quitting Smoking
Smoking worsens insulin resistance and complicates diabetes management. Quitting dramatically lowers your risk of developing diabetes. Talk to your doctor about stop-smoking aids and programs.
Medical Interventions for Prediabetes
If lifestyle changes alone aren't effective, your doctor may prescribe metformin or another medication to help control blood sugar levels.
Metformin works by reducing glucose production in the liver, improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing absorption of glucose from food. It's the standard first-line drug treatment for Insulin resistance and diabetes.
Other medications like GLP-1 agonists (liraglutide, semaglutide) stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas. They may be prescribed “off-label” for treating prediabetes.
Bariatric surgery is an option for some obese individuals to help them lose a significant amount of weight and lower diabetes risk. Surgery alone isn't enough – lifestyle modifications are still required post-surgery.
Take Action Against Prediabetes
The bottom line is prediabetes doesn't have to lead to diabetes if caught early. Small, sustainable changes to your eating habits, activity levels and weight can reverse insulin resistance before it progresses.
- Get screened annually if you are overweight or have diabetes risk factors
- Ask your doctor about testing for prediabetes
- Make dietary changes focused on fiber, whole foods and portion control
- Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to improve insulin sensitivity
- Reduce stress and get 7-8 hours of sleep nightly
- Lose excess weight by creating a modest calorie deficit each day
- Take prescribed medications or try medical interventions like bariatric surgery if needed
With diligent screening and proactive lifestyle changes, prediabetes can be reversed in many cases. Lowering your bloodsugar today will help you avoid a diabetes diagnosis and complications down the road. Don't wait – take charge of your health starting now.
FAQs Related to Prediabetes
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about prediabetes.
Q: How do you lower your A1C level?
A: Losing a modest amount of weight, exercising regularly, following a low glycemic diet, quitting smoking, and taking medications like metformin can all help lower your A1C if you have prediabetes or diabetes. Bringing your A1C close to normal levels greatly reduces the risk of complications.
Q: Can I reverse prediabetes with diet alone?
A: Yes, in many cases prediabetes can be reversed through diet changes alone, without medication. Focus on whole foods low on the glycemic index. Reduce refined carbs, sugars, and starches. Drink water instead of sugary beverages. Portion control is key to managing your carb intake.
Q: How can I lower my blood sugar immediately?
A: Exercise helps pull excess glucose out of the bloodstream for quick, short-term reductions. A 15-20 minute walk after meals can significantly lower post-meal bloodsugar spikes. Drinking more water and avoiding sugary drinks also helps stabilize blood glucose acutely.
Q: What supplements are good for prediabetes?
A: Some supplements that may aid blood sugar control include berberine, alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, cinnamon extract, fenugreek and milk thistle. However, lifestyle changes should come first before trying supplements. Check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.
Q: What foods will lower blood sugar quickly?
A: Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli and peppers can help manage blood sugar spikes. Protein foods like eggs, nuts and fatty fish are also good choices with minimal glycemic impact. Avoid refined grains and sugary foods for swifter bloodsugar improvements.
Making the right lifestyle choices and knowing your risk can prevent a prediabetes diagnosis from escalating to type 2 diabetes. Take charge of your health starting today.