Prediabetes: How to Lower Your Risk
Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD
It’s important to know if you have–or might be at risk for–prediabetes. In this condition, your blood glucose levels will be higher than is healthy, but not high enough to be diabetes. Prediabetes can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, blindness, nerve damage and stroke.
The good news is, if you know you have high blood glucose, you can take steps now to avoid type 2 diabetes. Read on to learn all about this condition and how you can avoid it.
Who is at risk for prediabetes?
Anybody can get prediabetes, but some are at a higher risk than others. If you are over 45, get your blood glucose tested at least once each year. People of all ages should have their healthcare provider check for prediabetes if they have any of the following risk factors:
- Overweight or obesity
- High blood pressure
- African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Island ancestry
- A close family member who has diabetes
- A history of gestational (pregnancy) diabetes
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
- High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
How can I lower my risk?
Preventing prediabetes will go a long way toward helping you avoid type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions. There are a few key lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk:
- Lose weight if you need to
- Cut down on sugar, trans fats and processed foods
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week
- Reduce stress and improve your sleep quality
If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry, you can make these changes slowly. Here are a few tips to help you change your lifestyle for the better:
- Try to get more non-exercise activity, like gardening, walking, or playing with your children.
- Fill up on vegetables before you eat the rest of your meal.
- Take 15 minutes each day to lower stress, by meditating or doing some gentle stretches in a quiet place.
- Read food labels carefully and avoid too much sugar, fat and unfamiliar ingredients.
- Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Have an appetizer as your main course at restaurants, or share a plate.
- Exercise with friends or family members.
- Write down all the food you have each day so you can see where improvements can be made.
- Lift weights or do other strength-training exercises.
- Drink plain or fruit-infused water instead of soda, juice or energy drinks.
- Use a pedometer and try to reach 10,000 steps each day.