Diabetes affects more than 100 million Americans. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes, and accounts for around 90 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide

While these numbers look grim, there’s no reason to panic. Diabetes is treatable and can be managed by adopting a healthy lifestyle. However, while most of us may be aware of the two main types of diabetes (type 1 and 2), how informed are we about prediabetes?

What Is Prediabetes?
Affecting around 54 million Americans, prediabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be identified as full-blown diabetes. Generally termed ‘borderline’ diabetes, prediabetes is a wake-up call that you may not be far from developing type 2 diabetes.

The same tests that diagnose diabetes can also diagnose prediabetes. Unfortunately, most people go for a blood test only after observing specific symptoms—increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination and fatigue. By this time, they have already crossed the prediabetes range and are now suffering from diabetes.

When Should I Get Tested?
It is generally advisable to test yourself for prediabetes after 45 years of age, especially if you are overweight. Others who need to get screened for prediabetes include:

  • Young adults who are overweight and under 25 years of age.
  • Physically inactive adults.
  • Those who have a family history of diabetes.
  • Those who belong to certain ethnic groups (Asian American, African American, Hispanic and Native Americans)
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes

What Can I Do If I Test Positive For Prediabetes?
Making appropriate lifestyle changes, adopting healthy eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. WHO says that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk. Here’s what you can do.

  • Maintain A Healthy Weight: According to research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), losing just five to seven percent of one’s body weight (10 to 20 pounds for a person weighing 200 pounds) can delay the progression of type 2 diabetes.  Incorporate healthy changes in your daily life to lose excess pounds and stay fit.
  • Exercise: Include physical activity in your everyday life. If long workouts aren’t your cup of tea, spread your workouts over the day. You don’t have to necessarily hit the gym. Take a brisk walk daily, ride your bike, or do some swimming laps.
  • Healthy Eating: Avoid snacking on high-fat junk foods such as cheesy burgers, fried foods and donuts. Instead, go for vegetables or low-fat protein such as seafood, lean meats and beans. The most important rule is to keep your sugar intake in check. While starchy carbs (such as fries and potato chips) must be completely avoided, fiber-rich foods such as whole grains and fruits should be an integral part of your diet.

Controlling prediabetes can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Commit yourself to a healthy lifestyle and beat your blood sugar levels by following it.

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1. American Diabetes Association
2. Joslin Diabetes Center