There are 96 million American adults – that is 1 in 3 – who have prediabetes. Prediabetes means you have a higher than normal blood sugar. Without making lifestyle changes, many people with prediabetes develop Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when your blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) is too high. Blood glucose is the main source of energy from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone from your pancreas, helps the glucose from your food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body does not make enough insulin or does not use it properly. Glucose that stays in your body and does not reach your cells may cause health problems. Overtime, high blood glucose may contribute to heart, kidney and nerve disease. Unfortunately, diabetes does not have a cure, but you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.
According to the latest report by the American Diabetes Association, intensive lifestyle changes may improve your impaired glucose tolerance and prevent Type 2 diabetes by 43-58 % over 3 years. (US Diabetes Prevention Study).
To determine if you are at risk for developing for prediabetes and diabetes, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your clinician and discuss a plan of action. Here are some lifestyle changes that may improve your blood sugar and decrease the progression of diabetes.
Eat the right carbohydrates and add more protein
While it is a good idea to discuss with your clinician whether weight loss in general may be helpful, the composition of your diet is another important step in controlling your blood sugar. Eating whole grains over refined grains or simple sugar is best. It’s also helpful to add a lean protein to your meal or snack to stabilize your blood sugar and help you feel full.
Soda is made with a refined sugar that may cause your blood sugar to spike. Try to kick the soda and sweetened beverage habit; instead, drink more unsweetened sparkling water, herbal teas or diluted juice.
Timing of meals
You may feel better overall, improve your blood sugar and improve the quality of your sleep by avoiding eating 2-3 hours before bed. Additionally, you may want to experiment with a 12-hour fast, such as not eating from 7 pm to 7 am.
Sleep quality may help with improved insulin resistance, decrease fat production, and help you identify when you are hungry and full. Some tips you can try to increase your sleep quality include:
Exercise is a crucial step in preventing diabetes and improving body composition. Activity helps lower your blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity throughout the body. Walking after meals for at least 10 minutes may help decrease the rise of glucose after eating. Standing after meals may even help decrease the rise in blood sugar. Try picking up your dishes right after meals and walking up and down your stairs or walking your dog.
Most studies indicate that 150 minutes of physical activity per week (about 20 minutes per day) is best for preventing diabetes. Try to do both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Start slow with a 15 -20 minute workout, 1-2 times per week. Discuss with your clinician if you need a referral to a physical therapist to improve activity.
Some ideas to increase activity:
Make an appointment to see an Atrius Health nutritionist. Your nutritionist will help you develop an individual plan to help you improve your blood sugar. Please call 617-657-6470 to book an appointment.