Could you have prediabetes? It may be more likely than you realize. Approximately 86 million Americans have prediabetes, and more than 74 million are unaware that they have it. Prediabetes is an indicator of long term insulin resistance and a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Your best opportunity to reverse course is today, making now the ideal time to ask your healthcare provider if you should be screened for prediabetes and diabetes.
What is Prediabetes?
If your blood sugar levels are above normal but below the level of diabetes, you have prediabetes. A hallmark of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, a condition in which the liver, muscle, and fat cells become stubborn to the effects of insulin. Instead of responding properly and allowing the smooth passage of glucose out of the bloodstream and into the hungry cells, these dysfunctional organs block the pathway, leaving too much glucose in the blood. In response, the beta cells of the pancreas crank out more insulin to move glucose into the cells in which it belongs.
Long before people have type 2 diabetes, they have prediabetes. And before that, they typically have insulin resistance with normal blood sugar levels. As time passes, the beta cells fail to keep up with the extra demand for insulin. That’s when prediabetes occurs. As more beta cell function is lost, type 2 diabetes occurs. There are usually no symptoms with prediabetes and often none with type 2 diabetes. That’s why so many people have these disorders and don’t know it. Your greatest chance to improve your numbers is when you still have lots of beta cell function and insulin-producing capacity. So time is of the essence.
Diagnosing Diabetes & Prediabetes:
Some risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are being overweight or obese, having a poor diet, and being physically inactive. You are also at increased risk if you have family members with these disorders, if you are at least 45 years old and if you are of certain racial or ethnic origin, including African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander. In the chart on this page are the methods to diagnose diabetes.
By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, CHWC
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.