Approximately 84 million adults who are 18 years of age or older are prediabetic. That is almost 34% of the population in the United States.
Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to complications like heart attacks, strokes, blindness, and losing limbs. Fortunately, it is a preventable disease, and people who are pre-diabetic can take action to reduce risk of diabetes.
What is Prediabetes?
If you’ve been told that you have prediabetes, it means you have higher than normal blood sugar, but it isn’t high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. It gives you time to lower your blood sugar and prevent a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
A prediabetes diagnosis is given if you’re fasting blood sugar measures 100 to 125mg/dl. If you’re given an oral glucose test and if, two-hours later, it measures between 140 to 199mg/dl, then you will be considered prediabetic because you have an impaired glucose tolerance.
Predictors of Diabetes
There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you have them, then your doctor may screen you for diabetes. The factors include:
- Being obese, which is a body mass index, BMI, of 25 or higher.
- A sedentary lifestyle.
- A family history of diabetes.
- Women who had gestational diabetes and gave birth to babies’ weighing over nine pounds.
- High blood pressure readings.
- Having an HDL cholesterol reading of 35mg/dl or lower, which is the “good” cholesterol, and/or a triglyceride level of 250mg/dl or higher.
- History of vascular disease.
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome.
People who are members of certain ethnic groups have a higher risk of diabetes, which includes:
- African Americans
- Native Americans
- Hispanic Americans
- Asian Americans
While there are some factors you cannot change, such as a family history of the disease or your ethnicity, most of the others you can.
How to Lower Blood Sugar
To keep from becoming diabetic, you need to find ways to lower your blood sugar to normal levels. A healthy blood sugar level measures under 100mg/dl when you first get up in the morning, which is considered a fasting blood sugar. Two hours after eating, a healthy level would be less than 140mg/dl.
If you are prediabetic, then you need to lower your blood sugar levels. Fortunately, there are several natural ways to lower the levels to reduce your risk of developing the Type 2 diabetes.
A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of becoming a diabetic because it is easier to gain weight when you don’t exercise regularly. By exercising, your body utilizes the sugar, or glucose, in it more efficiently. Any exercise is better than no exercise because it can help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Some of the exercises you can do to reduce your risk of diabetes are:
- Walking, especially brisk walking.
Cardiovascular exercises will also help prevent or reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and improve your lung capacity.
Hydrate with Water
Drinking water to hydrate your body is important for reducing the risk of diabetes. It will flush your kidneys to remove excess blood sugar through your urine, and it naturally thins your blood, so it circulates throughout your body better.
Most people should drink eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water per day. You can also drink non-sweetened drinks like fresh fruit juices, tea, or other drinks made without sugar. Avoid sugar-laden drinks like sodas, sweet tea, or fruits juices that have added sugar. Along with increasing your blood sugar, they can cause weight gain.
Stress can cause harm throughout your body and trigger many illnesses, including diabetes. When you are under a tremendous amount of stress, your body produces more destructive hormones like cortisol and glucagon. Stress can cause your blood sugar and blood pressure levels to rise.
There are several ways to reduce stress, such as exercising, practicing yoga, or meditating. Stress reduction methods can also help increase the secretion of insulin in chronic diabetes.
Improve Your Diet
The primary way to prevent diabetes is to eat a healthy diet. Eating fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fibrous foods can help you lose weight, avoid sugar, and reduce your blood sugar levels. There are certain foods you should add to your diet that can help reduce blood sugar.
Foods that Reduce Blood Sugar
Consider adding certain foods to your diet to reduce risk of diabetes. In addition, these foods can also help to reduce inflammation, which is another factor in the development of the disease.
Using cinnamon on your food can help reduce the risk of diabetes because there are compounds in it that reduce blood sugar levels and improve the sensitivity to insulin. This spice may also reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are both risk factors for diabetes.
One-fourth to one-half teaspoon a day is all the cinnamon you should use because it also contains coumarin that can cause problems at higher dosages.
Most kinds of vinegar contain acetic acid, which can improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar by as much as 20% when it is consumed with complex carbohydrates. White vinegar contains seven percent acetic acid, while milder vinegar like red wine or balsamic vinegar is about six percent.
Try mixing red wine vinegar with olive oil, and other spices to create a vinaigrette for salads or use balsamic vinegar on cooked vegetables or strawberries to reduce your blood sugar.
Flax and Chia Seeds
Flax and chia seeds are good sources of insoluble fiber that helps in reducing risk of diabetes by controlling how much sugar gets released into the bloodstream. Consuming flax seeds can help reduce blood sugar levels by up to 20%.
To be able to fully digest flax seeds, they must be ground in a spice or coffee grinder. Chia seeds are digestible without being ground.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, among other leafy green vegetables, are high in magnesium and antioxidants which can help reduce your risk of becoming a diabetic. By eating one and a half servings a day, researchers have found these vegetables can cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 14%.
Fiber and protein-rich legumes, like lentils, can help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce risk of diabetes if they are frequently eaten. Legumes can also reduce the risk of heart disease in diabetics and provide better glycemic control.
There are many other foods you can eat to help control your blood sugar and reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Foods to Avoid
To help control your weight and reduce your blood sugar, you should limit the number of foods you eat containing simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs contain sugar, so when you eat foods that contain simple carbohydrates, they quickly increase the amount of glucose in your body.
Unless your body uses the glucose as energy, it ends up being stored as fat and causing weight gain. Foods containing simple carbohydrates are usually high in calories as well. Avoid foods containing simple carbohydrates like:
- White bread
- Enriched pasta
- Fast foods
How Fiber Controls Blood Sugar
If you want to prevent constipation, then it is important to have fiber in your diet. Roughage from sources like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables keeps everything moving in your body and gets rid of toxins in your system when you defecate. Also, fiber in the diet can also control blood sugar levels.
Dietary fiber is either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and it can help control blood sugar and lower cholesterol. It is found in foods like:
- Citrus Fruits
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and it helps to move material through your digestive system. It is beneficial for people struggling with irregular bowel movements or constipation. These foods contain insoluble fiber:
- Whole-wheat flour
- Green Beans
Soluble fiber helps to control the absorption of sugar, so it can help reduce blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber can also help to decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Control Food Portions
Along with what you eat, you can help reduce your blood sugar levels by how controlling much you eat. By eating smaller portions of food, you can cut calories and lose weight. Therefore, you can reduce your blood sugar levels and prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Some of the ways to control food portions include:
- Measure and weigh food portions.
- Keep a food journal.
- Use smaller plates.
- Read food labels to find out serving sizes.
- Eat slowly.
- Do not watch TV or work on your computer while eating.
If you want to know how to reduce risk of diabetes, you can:
- Increase your activity levels by exercising.
- Reduce stress by meditating or practicing yoga.
- Drink more water, so you stay hydrated.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes more complex carbohydrates and fiber.
If you are diligent about changing your dietary habits and exercising, then you can reduce risk of diabetes and live a healthier life.