Pre-diabetes — are you at risk?

People with pre-diabetes do not usually have symptoms, so most are not even aware they have it.

by Dr. Julie Gorman and Dr. Toni Vaughan — 

More than 41 million Americans fall into the category of having pre-diabetes. With pre-diabetes, one’s fasting blood sugar is above normal (100 mg/dL), but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with pre-diabetes do not usually have symptoms, so most are not even aware they have it. Doctors often just categorize these people into “watchful waiting,” which means they do not start treatment until the blood sugars are high enough to be classified as diabetes (a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or greater).

The problem with delaying treatment is that by the time people are finally diagnosed with actual diabetes, many have already lost about 50 percent of the functionality of their insulin-producing pancreas cells. Researchers estimate that this pancreatic beta-cell defect probably begins five to 10 years before a diabetes diagnosis. Without diet and lifestyle changes, most people with pre-diabetes will progress to Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

To determine whether you should be screened for pre-diabetes, answer the attached risk factor questions. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, talk with your doctor or a certified diabetes educator. There are a number of things you can do to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. These include:

  • Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor.
  • Learn what to eat to be healthy. Commit to a healthy, balanced diet of good carbs (more fruit, veggies, whole grains) and avoid the bad carbs also known as “the whites” (white flour, white sugar, white rice, pasta).
  • Take appropriate nutritional supplements. Research shows that specific vitamins, minerals and herbs can help lower blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides. Start with a good multivitamin and fish oil — and ask your doctor for recommendations based upon your specific health concerns.
  • Get moving. If you are a couch potato, start with small changes. Get a pedometer and start walking, with a goal of getting to 10,000 steps per day.
  • Lose weight. A 15-percent reduction in weight can cut your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 60 percent.

Whether you are at risk for diabetes or already have diabetes and are on multiple medications, making diet and lifestyle changes now can greatly improve your health and your future.

 

Risk factors for pre-diabetes: 

  • Are you overweight?
  • Men — Is your waist more than 40 inches?
  • Women — Is your waist more than 35 inches?
  • Do you have more fat stored around your belly than your hips?
  • Is your blood pressure high (130/85 mm Hg or greater)?
  • Do you have low HDL (good) cholesterol?
  • Are your triglycerides high?
  • Do you have relatives with heart disease or Type 2 diabetes?

Resource: The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP).

 

Dr. Julie Gorman is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. Dr. Toni Vaughan is a licensed naturopathic physician. Both are at the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine Center in Phoenix, where they offer a therapeutic lifestyle program that teaches how to take control of your health. 602-265-1774 or www.AIMcenterAZ.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 1, February/March 2007.

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