Prediabetes is a condition that precedes type 2 diabetes: Characterized by elevated blood glucose levels, higher than normal, but not yet high enough to diagnose the disease. Many people suffer from this disease, but are not always aware of it. That is why it is important to know what prediabetes is and how to deal with it.
Prediabetes: a reversible disease
Prediabetes is not a real disease, but a condition that is still reversible. In fact, the most recent European guidelines suggest a more correct term, “glucose intolerance”, precisely to underline that this condition it does not necessarily condemn a person to become diabetic. In fact, prediabetes should be considered, more than a disease, a risk factor not only for diabetes itself, but also for cardiovascular diseases.
A silent condition, in short, which can therefore be present without manifesting any symptoms. According to data published by the American Diabetes Prevention Program, 11% of people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within a median of three yearswhile one in four patients does so in five years.
Prediabetes: risk values
Prediabetes is a condition that involves having higher than normal blood glucose values: however, understanding which securities are considered risky is not easy. In fact, the definition of these parameters changes depending on whether the indications of the World Health Organization (WHO) or those of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). According to the first, the upper limit of normal fasting blood glucose is 110 mg/dl, while for the second it is 100 mg/dl. In any case, for those who continuously exceed these values, the risk of developing the disease is one and a half times greater than for those with normal blood glucose values (WHO).
Symptoms and people at risk
As already mentioned, the symptoms are usually silent, but it is not true that you cannot be aware of a prediabetes condition and then delve into the problem with specific tests. But who are most at risk for prediabetes?
- people with overweight over 45 years;
- People with overweightalthough under 45 yearsbut that they present other risk factors for diabetes.
More generally, people at risk for prediabetes and diabetes are those who:
- are overweight and They do not do physical activity.
- Have family background of diabetes (direct relatives such as parents or siblings).
- Women who have suffered gestational diabetes During pregnancy.
- who suffer hypertension and blood pressure overall high.
- People who have elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
How to know if you are prediabetic
If you think you have prediabetes, figuring out the problem isn’t hard. There are several ways to assess the state of glucose intolerance:
- Analysis of fasting blood glucose levels with a blood test;
- The occasional test of plasma blood glucose (it is not necessary to be fasting).
- The test of oral glucose tolerance.
- With these tests, your doctor can assess whether your metabolism is normal, whether you have prediabetes, or whether you have type 2 diabetes.
The tests are usually done in sequence: for example, if your fasting blood glucose is consistently higher than 110 but lower than 126 mg/dL (impaired fasting blood glucose), it’s best to do an oral glucose tolerance test. . In any case, it is always necessary to consult a doctor, who will prescribe the most appropriate tests for the specific case.
Treatment and prevention of prediabetes
Numerous studies have shown that those with prediabetes can delay the course of the disease: by changing your lifestyle, up to 58% of prediabetes cases can return to a normal state.
The importance of nutrition
The first condition that must be overcome for blood sugar levels to return to normal is that of incorrect nutrition: favoring certain foods over others can have a huge impact. In particular, people in a pre-diabetic state should:
- bet on him bread, pasta and whole grains.
- drastically limit the sweets.
- Reduce intake of saturated animal fatsfavoring the so-called good or unsaturated fats, such as omega 3 and omega 6.
- Opt for foods low in calories and rich in fiber and antioxidants, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Opt for lighter cooking methods for each food, such as grilled, steamed or bakedinstead of frying.
- Use nonstick pans and pots to reduce oil consumption, especially butter.
- Eat more vegetables and more whole foods.
The role of physical activity
Of course, as with many conditions, physical activity is an important key that is often underestimated. Experts advise prediabetes sufferers not only to lose between 5% and 10% of their weight, but also to engage in any moderate-intensity physical activity for half an hour a day.
If you lead an inactive life, it may seem difficult to change your style, but it is not. In fact, very little is needed to increase physical activity:
- Give a 30 minute walk every day: you can divide this time into 2 or 3 ten-minute walks.
- find one outdoor activity that satisfies you, like bike rides or outdoor fitness classes.
- Up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. If you use the car to get around, try to park as far away as possible.
- Also try the strength traininglifting light weights several times a day.
To date, no drugs have been officially approved for prediabetes, although there are several prescription drugs for treating diabetes that are being evaluated for prediabetes as well.
For this condition, which, as we have specified, is reversible, the mixture of a balanced diet and sport seems to be the best solution, which can ward off the specter of developing type 2 diabetes.
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