Nearly 1 in 3 American adults have pre-diabetes – and many people don’t even realize they have the condition!
The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed. Although in many cases type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even completely prevented.
So the question is: what is the most effective way to reverse pre-diabetes?
In this article, we will explore what prediabetes is and the best ways to reverse it.
What is pre-diabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes usually develops after several years of insulin resistance. The following are the typical blood sugar levels of a person with prediabetes:
- Fasting blood sugar between 100-125 mg/dl
- Blood sugar 2 hours after a meal between 140-199 mg/dl
- HbA1c test between 5.7-6.4%
Without intervention, about 70% of people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within a few years.
What are the symptoms of prediabetes?
Prediabetes can be difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone, as many people do not experience any symptoms.
However, some people may experience the following symptoms:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Excessive hunger
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Blurred vision/vision changes
If you experience these symptoms and are overweight, obese, and over 35, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that you ask your doctor for a fasting blood sugar test to see if you may have prediabetes.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms and don’t have any risk factors for diabetes, it wouldn’t hurt to call your doctor to see if he or she would still recommend a fasting blood sugar test.
Many cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are diagnosed in people who are not obese or overweight and are younger than 35 years of age.
How to deal with pre-diabetes?
Prediabetes is primarily controlled by diet and exercise. Talk to your doctor about changes to your diet that are easy to make and ways to increase your daily physical activity.
If you are overweight, the American Diabetes Association recommends losing at least 5% of your body weight to help manage insulin resistance and pre-diabetes.
If you have cardiovascular risk factors in addition to prediabetes, your doctor may also recommend medications to help control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Is prediabetes reversible?
Yes! The good news is that prediabetes is reversible in most cases. You just need to take the necessary steps to reverse it within the first few years of diagnosis.
The window of opportunity to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes is two to six years after diagnosis of prediabetes. After this time, most people develop type 2 diabetes, which is not always reversible.
Reversing prediabetes depends on losing excess weight and increasing your level of physical activity. It depends on how long it takes you to lose 5-7% of your total body weight.
What is the most effective way to reverse pre-diabetes?
Medical experts know that weight loss, a healthy pre-diabetes diet and increased daily physical activity all play a role in helping patients reverse their diagnosis of pre-diabetes. But how?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) as the best way to reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes.
There are CDC-certified NDPP programs in every state, and most health insurance plans cover almost all program costs.
The studies compared the effectiveness of NSCLC with metformin.
Researchers found that positive changes in diet and physical activity significantly reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a person with prediabetes.
The NDPP group modified their diet and exercise habits. The goal was 150 minutes of activity per week and a lower calorie and fat diet to lose 7% of total body weight.
The metformin group took 850 mg of metformin twice a day. The third group received placebo tablets.
The NDPP group reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% across all ethnic groups and genders. For people aged 60 and over, the risk was reduced by 71%.
Participants in the metformin group reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 31%, which was seen in both men and women, but was less effective in those aged 45 and over.
About 5% of those in the NDPP group developed diabetes each year, compared to 7.8% in the metformin group.
Every year, 11% of people in the placebo group developed diabetes.
This study was revolutionary in the world of diabetes prevention and proves that long-term diet and exercise are even more effective in preventing type 2 diabetes than taking metformin.
Other ways to reverse pre-diabetes
Here are some other strategies you can use to lose weight and reverse pre-diabetes:
- Cook more at home
- Avoid fried and fatty foods
- Increase your protein intake at all meals
- Eat smaller portions
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods
- Drink only water and no sugar-sweetened drinks
- Eliminate processed and refined carbohydrates
- Get adequate sleep (7 to 9 hours a night for most people)
- Take all medications as directed
- Manage stress with deep breathing, meditation and yoga
- Limit alcohol
How long does it take to reverse pre-diabetes?
It will all depend on the person. However, if you have pre-diabetes, don’t expect it to reverse immediately.
Safe, healthy, and sustainable weight loss is the best and most effective method for delaying or completely preventing the development of type 2 diabetes.
The weight loss needed to reverse prediabetes can take 3-5 months or even a year.
You can read more about how long it may take to reverse pre-diabetes here.
Does prediabetes always develop into type 2 diabetes?
The good news is that being diagnosed with prediabetes does not mean you will develop type 2 diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise and diet plan that works for you, your health goals, and your lifestyle. Moreover, join an NDPP program near you for the best results!
However, if you wait more than a few years after diagnosis to make health changes, the window of opportunity closes.
Do people with prediabetes take insulin?
It depends on the patient, but most people with prediabetes do not need insulin. Prediabetes is largely controlled by diet and exercise alone.
If you are at high risk for other health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure, you may be prescribed additional medications such as metformin, Ozempic or Victoza.
If you reverse prediabetes, can it come back?
You are at risk of developing prediabetes again if you stop exercising and maintaining a healthy diet.
Therefore, sustainable weight loss is recommended for long-term success.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about sustainable, long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.
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