Prediabetes Can Be Reversed

Prediabetes Can Be Reversed

Want to hear some good news about diabetes? For many of us, the disease can be delayed or even prevented with a few simple lifestyle changes. This is important because diabetes affects more than 37 million people in the U.S. That’s about one out of every 10 Americans.

About one in three have prediabetes – a precursor to full-blown diabetes.

What Causes Diabetes?

Our bodies turn most of the food we eat, into sugar (glucose). This sugar is turned into energy to fuel our bodies.

A hormone made in the pancreas – insulin – is released into the blood stream. It helps deliver sugar to feed every cell in the body. If the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or if our bodies can’t use it properly, too much sugar builds up in the blood.  

High blood sugar increases inflammation in your arteries. When this happens, your organs don’t get the blood they need to stay healthy and function properly.

With diabetes you have a greater risk for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, blindness and advanced memory loss.

There are Two Types of Diabetes
  • Type 1 diabetes: the body doesn’t make insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes: the body does not make enough insulin or doesn’t use it efficiently

In addition to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there is also prediabetes. With it, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to cause diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 15 to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. But there’s good news: Prediabetes can be reversed.

In a national study – Diabetes Prevention Program – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “millions of high-risk people can delay or avoid developing Type 2 diabetes by losing weight through regular physical activity and a diet low in fat calories.”

Ready to Get Started?

Three major risk factors increase your chance for diabetes. Being overweight, a poor diet and not getting enough exercise all play a role. When you tackle them, you make big strides toward living without diabetes.

As the CDC says: Prediabetes = Pre(vent)diabetes. Here are ways to get started:

  • Be a healthy snacker. Skip sugary foods and nosh on whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies. Popcorn is good too, just hold the salt.
  • Walk more. Find ways to work it into your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pick a parking place farther away from the door. Get off the bus or train a stop or two early.
  • Make a healthy grocery list and stick to it. Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
  • Workout when you watch television. Walk in place, do squats or lift some light weights during your favorite show.
  • Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you’re full.

Small changes like these can have a big impact in keeping diabetes at bay. Take action now. Talk with your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. Tell them if you have a family history of diabetes.

Sources: Diabetes Fast Facts, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Research Behind the National DDP, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021; Blood Sugar and Insulin at Workleaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2022; Prediabetes, leaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2022

Originally published 4/19/2017; Revised 2019, 2023