The Wake Up Call That Could Help You
This is one wake up call you don't want to sleep through!
For anyone diagnosed with Prediabetes, the idea that a disease diagnosis may be a wake up call might seem a little far fetched.
After all, Prediabetes is an early form of type 2 diabetes. So, it doesn’t seem like receiving that diagnosis could ever be a good thing, right?
Well, I hope the following will change your thinking enough to see Prediabetes from a new perspective. Maybe as a wake-up call. A call to make changes for a lifetime. A long and healthy lifetime.
What do we know about Prediabetes?
As previously mentioned, Prediabetes is now considered an early form of diabetes and shares many of the same indicators in common.
Those indicators include:
1. Elevated blood sugar numbers
For example, your A1C could be between 5.7% to 6.4% while your Fasting Plasma Glucose might fall somewhere in the range 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl. These numbers are above normal but just below the indicators for full diabetes.
2. Poor eating patterns
Unfortunately, most Americans eat the Standard American Diet, known as the S.A.D. diet. I use the phrase “Standard American Diet” to describe the stereotypical diet of Americans. But what does the Standard American Diet actually look like?
The Standard American Diet (1)
- 63% of America’s calories come from refined and processed foods (e.g. soft drinks, packaged snacks like potato chips, packaged desserts, etc.)
- 25% of America’s calories come from animal-based foods
- 12% of America’s calories come from plant-based foods
Oh, and half of those plant-based calories (6%) come from french fries.
That means only 6% of America’s calories are coming from health-promoting fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
An overweight or obese population
Perhaps the most visible result of the S.A.D. diet is the increase in being overweight or obese. When the vast majority of one’s calories come from refined or processed foods and high fat animal-based foods, becoming overweight is almost guaranteed.
3. High incidence of ‘CPS’
We live in a culture that does not place much importance on physical activity the direct result of which is a high incidence of ‘Couch Potato Syndrome’.
And no, that is not a real diagnosis, just a made-up name.
But whether you call it CPS or modern lifestyle, the result is the same – too much sitting.
We sit in our cars during our long commute, we sit for hours every day at work, and when we finally get home, we sit in front of the TV or our device screens for several more hours.
For most of us, we average more than 10 hours of sitting every day. Yikes!
Lack of physical activity is killing us. And it’s a direct contributor to the epidemic of Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Maybe we should just listen to our mothers (at least for those of us of a certain age) who told us most days to go outside and play.
4. Chronic stress
There are two types of stress – acute and chronic.
Acute stress, aka the fight-or-flight response, is your body's immediate reaction to a perceived threat, challenge, or scare. Acute stress is a normal part of everyday life and in many cases helps to keep us alert and alive.
This type of stress comes on quickly and usually leaves quickly. This is not the type of stress we are concerned with here. Examples include getting a speeding ticket, being unexpectedly called into the boss’ office, getting a call from your child's school.
On the other hand, chronic stress tends to be excessive amounts of stress that are relatively constant and persist over extended periods of time. Chronic stress is usually a response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period of time in which a person perceives having little or no control.
Chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and/or weakened immune system and is a contributing factor in type 2 diabetes.
And if that is not enough, having diabetes can then cause a considerable amount of chronic stress. The classic vicious cycle.
5. Poor sleep
Getting enough rest through plenty of good, quality sleep is essential for a healthy body. Sleep is now known to help regulate glucose metabolism through a variety of mechanisms (2).
When sleep is disturbed, our bodies can’t properly control blood sugar. This can lead to higher than normal levels of glucose and that diagnosis of prediabetes.
In addition, a number of studies have linked insufficient sleep with an increased risk of obesity (3). Being overweight and obese are directly linked to Prediabetes…and then diabetes.
To make matters worse, people with Prediabetes and diabetes who have lower sleep efficiency have poorer cognitive function than those with better sleep efficiency. Sleep efficiency is a measure of how much time in bed is actually spent sleeping. (4)
While on the other hand, better sleep efficiency is associated with better cognitive function scores for people with diabetes and Prediabetes.
Finally, several studies have found that people with poorer sleep quality had more than a two-fold risk for Prediabetes.
So, to prevent Prediabetes,diabetes, and maintain good cognitive function for a lifetime, it's vital that you get your zzz's.
What are the typical recommendations for dealing with Prediabetes?
There are 2 simple things we can do to prevent Prediabetes…and diabetes as well:
- Change your eating habits
- Increase your physical activity
Let’s look briefly at each of these simple steps starting with . . .
Change your eating habits
Dump the S.A.D. diet. The Standard American Diet is one of the two leading causes of death and disease in the U.S (5).
How do we change that? First, stop eating huge amounts of red meat, processed meat, pre-packaged foods, butter, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, refined grains, High-fructose corn syrup and high-sugar drinks.
Instead, focus on eating more fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and other non-processed foods. These foods are full of healthy nutrients and can help prolong your life and guard you against disease. And if you feel you can’t get by without some meat, add small portions of fish or chicken.
Increase your physical activity
Get off the couch!
Even if you can’t seem to find time for a structured workout, you can easily find times throughout the day to move. You’ve heard them all before:
- Take the stairs.
- Park further away from the front door.
- Walk to your associate’s office to talk rather than a phone call, text or email.
- Get a dog and take for a walk.
- And on and on. . .
Yes, there is more to it than that just a few dietary and activity changes. But those are the two best and most effective places to start.
Now, let’s change our perspective
Just making these 2 simple changes (change your eating habits & increase your physical activity) will help you reverse Prediabetes and prevent full diabetes.
And here comes the biggest benefit. Making these lifestyle changes not for a month or two but for a lifetime will help you live a longer, healthier life!
These and other health-promoting LIFESTYLE changes you may make along the way may well help you lose weight, decrease blood pressure, improve cognition, reduce your chances of heart disease and heart attack, and avoid most of the top 10 killers in the U.S.
In addition, you may likely experience an increase in energy and stamina allowing you to enjoy life more (which can also lead to living longer).
Another side effect of healthy lifestyle change is improved mental health and increased cognitive function.
So, are you beginning to see how Prediabetes can be a wake up call?
Do you see how heeding the wake up call of a Prediabetes diagnosis and making a few simple changes in your lifestyle could not only prevent diabetes, but actually lead to living a longer healthier life?
I hope so!
If you’ve been diagnosed with Prediabetes, I hope you will start to see it as an opportunity to turn your life around, rather than seeing a future of disease, discomfort, doctors and hospitals.
It’s really just a shift in perspective and a decision to make the right choices.
1. Forks Over Knives. (2016). The Standard American Diet is Even Sadder Than We Thought. Retrieved from https://www.forksoverknives.com/standard-american-diet-sadder-than-we-thought/#gs.QSY0ulQ
2. Tsuneki, H., Sasaoka, T., & Sakurai, T. (2016). Sleep Control, GPCRs, and Glucose Metabolism. Retrieved from https://plu.mx/plum/a/?doi=10.1016%2Fj.tem.2016.06.011&display-tab=summary-content
3.Kristen L. Knutson. Does inadequate sleep play a role in vulnerability to obesity? American Journal of Human Biology, 2012; 24 (3): 361 DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22219
4. Sunee Saetung, Hataikarn Nimitphong, Nantaporn Siwasaranond, Rungtip Sumritsopak, Panitha Jindahra, Orapitchaya Krairit, Ammarin Thakkinstian, Thunyarat Anothaisintawee, Sirimon Reutrakul. The relationship between sleep and cognitive function in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Acta Diabetologica, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s00592-018-1166-3
5. Center for Science in the Public Interest. (n.d.). Why good nutrition is important. Retrieved 2018, from https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/why-good-nutrition-important
still have questions?
A diagnosis of Prediabetes can be scary and confusing.
But it doesn't have to be!
Get the answers you seek to the most frequently asked questions about Prediabetes . . .
The 6 Questions You Should Ask When Diagnosed With Prediabetes
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About the Author - Gary Barclay
Gary is co-founder of Blue Coral Coaching Solutions. He is a Health Psychologist, Lifestyle Change Coach, and Diabetes Prevention Educator. As a master health and transformational lifestyle expert, world traveler, and public educator, Gary uses his unique combination of training and skills to work with individuals and groups to take their lives to the next level of optimal health and healing, while living the life of their dreams.