November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes.
This year’s focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have prediabetes — that’s 88 million people — but the majority of people don’t know they have it.
What is pre-diabetes?
If you’re familiar with diabetes, you may not know that ‘pre-diabetes’ is an alarmingly prevalent condition affecting 1 in 3 Americans.
Though less severe, this condition can lead to a type 2 diagnosis. Often silent and creeping, most with prediabetes don’t even know they’re at risk. But what exactly is pre-diabetes, and how does it differ from its more mature counterparts? And most importantly – what can we do about it?
If you have prediabetes, the long-term damage of diabetes — especially to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys — may already be starting. There’s good news, however. Progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable.
Eating healthy foods, making physical activity part of your daily routine and staying at a healthy weight can help bring your blood sugar level back to normal.
Here are some tips to help manage prediabetes and prevent diabetes:
The good news is that by making small healthy lifestyle changes, it is possible to prevent type 2 diabetes and even reverse your prediabetes.
Take small steps
Making changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can be hard, but you don’t have to change everything at once. It is okay to start small. Remember that setbacks are normal and do not mean you have failed—the key is to get back on track as soon as you can.
Choose healthier foods and drinks
Pick foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and sugar. Build a plate that includes a balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates. Drink water instead of sweetened drinks.
Lose weight, track it, and keep it off
You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your starting weight.
Limit time spent sitting and try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week. Start slowly by breaking it up throughout the day.
Stay up to date on vaccinations
The COVID-19 (booster shot, if eligible) and flu vaccines are especially important for people who may be more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 or the flu, such as people with diabetes.
It is possible to reverse prediabetes. Making a plan, tracking your progress, and getting support from your health care professional and loved ones can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes.
Small Steps, Big Difference: Preventing diabetes is within your reach
Healthy lifestyle changes, taken in small steps, can make a big difference. Preventing diabetes is within your reach.
Visit niddk.nih.gov to learn more.