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Prediabetes- Could you have it? How to prevent it!
By Susan Zikos, RD, LDN, CDE

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 86 million people in the United States have prediabetes. This diagnosis occurs when a person's blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is also usually defined as fasting blood glucose of 100-125 mg/dl. Nine out of ten Americans do not even know they have prediabetes! This is especially concerning because without intervention, a person with prediabetes has a 15-30% chance of developing diabetes within five years.

If you have prediabetes or the risk factors for it, a combination of diet and exercise will decrease your chances of developing diabetes by half. For example, a modest weight loss of 5-7 % (10-14 pounds for a 200 pound person) will decrease the chance of getting diabetes by 58%!

The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood test to detect prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in adults without symptoms who are overweight or obese, and who have one or more additional risk factors, such as:

  • Being physically inactive.
  • Being over the age of 45.
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
  • Having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander.
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that occurs in pregnant women.
  • High blood pressure
    • 140/90 mmHg or above
  • Having HDL, or "good," cholesterol below 35 mg/dL, or a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS

So to further decrease your changes of prediabetes or diabetes, you can follow these guidelines for healthy living:

  • If you are overweight, lose weight. A loss of 5-7 % of body weight offers you great health benefits.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods; indulge in fewer processed foods.
  • Eat lean meats and fish.
  • Eat fewer saturated fats from animals and replace them with olive oil and canola oil.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, such as cycling or walking.
  • Perform strengthening exercises two days a week which work all of your major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Please remember, you do not have to do this alone! Your doctor, alongside a dietitian, can help you achieve your weight loss and healthy eating goals!

Susan Zikos, RD, LDN, CDE is an outpatient dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Ohio Valley Hospital.  She can be reached at 412-777-6205.

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