Prediabetes:
What Can I Do About It?

A few simple changes can help you prevent diabetes
Change Just Ahead
Lifestyle Got You here and lifestyle can get you back!

We rarely think of the way we live as a lifestyle. But that's exactly what it is.

Unfortunately, for most of us, our current lifestyle in not healthy and probably is killing us.

But it doesn't have to be that way and if you keep reading you'll discover ways to improve your lifestyle.

The first 2 parts of this series covered the basics of Prediabetes: 

Here in part 3, I want to share some lifestyle changes you can make to reverse Prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Here are the topics we’ll explore in part 3:

  • Changing your lifestyle
  • Diet - It's not what you're thinking
  • Exercise & physical activity?

So no more procrastinating, let's dive in!

Change your lifestyle

At the end of part 2 in this series we said making a few simple changes could help you reverse Prediabetes or significantly delay the onset of full type 2 diabetes.

Reversing Prediabetes means making lifestyle changes. As the subtitle above says, it was lifestyle that got you here and it is lifestyle that will get you back.

The leading causes of Prediabetes are:

  • Poor diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • check
    Troubled sleep patterns
  • check
    Stress
  • check
    Age (5)

While there is little we can do about age—at least at this time :)—there are a number of things that can be done to address the other, lifestyle related, items in the list.

Let's start with diet.

Yeah, I hear ya. Been there, done that and you’re not interested in another diet.

By now we all know diets don’t work. Or at best, only work for short periods of time.  And as diabetes can be a lifelong issue, short term diets just won’t cut it and I would never suggest that you go on a diet again.

But, please stay with me a little longer to keep an open mind about what 'diet' is.

Remember, I opened this article with a statement about lifestyle being both the cause and the cure.

So, let’s look at what lifestyle change and diet have to do with each other.

For most people, the word diet conjures up a proscribed and painfully restrictive way of eating that can only be followed for a short period. Today, diet has come to mean to regulate one's way of eating for the sake of beauty/vanity/health. You’ve seen the titles:

  • Alkaline Diet
  • Keto Diet
  • Paleo Diet
  • Swimsuit Ready Diet
  • The Bride Diet
  • The Zone Diet
  • Atkins Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Raw Food Diet

And on and on ... Amazon lists 70,000 related diet titles.

The weight loss industry in America was valued at north of $68 billion in 2017. (4)

But this is not a 'diet' we're talking about now.

What I'm referring to is the original meaning of the word diet which was “way of living,” a way of life, a way or style of eating”. 

I know you’re thinking you already have a way of eating.

That's true. And if you’re like most people in America, you’re eating the Standard American Diet, referred to as the SAD diet (pun intended)

Here are some really concerning numbers associated with the SAD diet as presented by Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet (2):

  • 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

 A 2010 report from the National Cancer Institute on the status of the American diet found that three out of four Americans don't eat a single piece of fruit on a given day. (6)

Unfortunately, half of the 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

There's a good reason we abbreviate standard American diet to SAD. The standard American diet leads to standard American diseases that lead to standard American deaths.

SAD diet

So what do I do about it you ask?

It’s Simple. Change the way you eat!

Consider moving to the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean style of eating that is.

The Mediterranean diet or way of eating focuses primarily on plant-based foods and healthy fats such as olive oil. This way of eating has long been known for its heart-health benefits (and, more recently, its brain-boosting effect).

In addition, major studies show that this eating plan is also effective for both losing and maintaining weight, especially among older adults.

Beyond the immediate health benefits offered by this eating plan, for many people, the Mediterranean way of eating may be a relatively easy change to make as the foods are readily available and familiar to most everyone.

Let's Go Deeper

Now let's turn to exercise & physical activity

Yes, I know, you’ve heard this all before as well.

Well, if you’re diagnosed with Prediabetes, getting and staying active is vital to your health and well-being.

If a healthy way of eating is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, being active is in a very strong second place.

“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it

would be the single most widely prescribed

and beneficial medicine in the nation.”(1)

Dr. Robert Butler made that statement in 1978 and while there’s as yet no “exercise pill” we still have to remind people of the importance of physical activity in our lives.

In fact when this statement was made, only 45% of American adults engaged in physical activity for the purpose of exercise. In 2016, almost 40 years later, only 21.7% of adults aged 18 and over who met the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. That means just less than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines.

Let's Go Deeper

Troubled Sleep Patterns

Getting enough sleep seems to be an issue for everyone these days. Our busy lives make getting 7-8 of sleep each night difficult.

In terms of human need, sleep is one of the five most important elements. Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of problems ranging from decreased body temperature, cognitive impairment and hallucination, and much more.

One of the most serious health consequences that comes from disrupted, poor quality sleep is a significantly increased risk for diabetes. Diabetes can cause sleep loss, and there’s growing evidence that not sleeping well or not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of developing diabetes. Additionally, poor sleep can lead to obesity which is also directly linked to diabetes.

Talk about your vicious cycle.

According to Mark Mahowald, MD, there's evidence that sleep deprivation can lead to pre-diabetic state (7). The body's reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to and a major aspect of diabetes. As we now know, if you’ve been following these posts, insulin’s job is to help the body use glucose for energy. In insulin resistance, cells do not use the hormone efficiently, resulting in high blood sugar.

Sleep Depravation

Sleep is also an important time for restoration and repair of the body at a cellular level. That includes maintenance of the immune system (which keeps us from getting sick) and of the body’s metabolic functions.

If blood glucose levels are already running high, you will reduce those higher levels of glucose by going to the bathroom. During the day, this is a nuisance. At night, that means waking up multiple times to go to the bathroom, and ultimately not getting our 7-hours-worth.

So in summary, they have linked poor sleep to:

  • High blood sugar levels 
  • Increased insulin resistance
  • Increased A1c
  • Reduced metabolic health
  • Weight gain and obesity

To help you get better sleep, here’s a list of things you can do to help you get the sleep you need:

  • Cut out late-night snacks.
  • Wind down before bed by reading a book, taking a hot bath, or meditating.
  • Power off by turning off all electronic devices 1-2 hours before sleep.
  • Dim the lights 1 hour before bed to release melatonin, a natural sleep hormone.
  • Cool down. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool (60-67°F).

Stress

Stress is a part of everyday life. Home, work, general life, we just can't escape it. And unfortunately, the chronic stress most of us live with can have massively harmful effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. The image below outlines many of those affects.

Stress Effects

Learning to manage the stress of daily life is important for all of us, but it is even more important for those with Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Stress changes your hormones, which may prevent insulin from working properly and raise your blood glucose levels.

We know that people with Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, meaning their bodies cannot regulate blood sugar levels.

And as a double whammy because of these imbalances, those with insulin resistance have an increased emotional response to negative stimuli. 

In short, they are more susceptible to stress.

Therefore, they have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which causes an even higher level of insulin resistance. According to a recent study, for people with blood sugar problems, being more stressed and reactive can cause blood sugar to spike (8).

Since cortisol can increase your blood sugar and potentially lead to Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you want to reduce your stress level in whatever ways you can.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and of concern for anyone with Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. But stress isn't always a bad thing. Take the time to learn more about stress. Begin to notice what triggers your stress reactions. What you learn may surprise you. 

Wrap Up

Diet and exercise may be the most powerful medicines we have ever seen. Not only will these two interventions help you deal with Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but they will also make amazing changes in all other areas of your health. Now is the time to change the way you eat and find ways to increase your activity levels regularly to insure you will live a long and healthy life.

This brings us to the end of our 3-part series on Prediabetes. But it’s really just the beginning. 

We offer several additional ways to learn more. You can visit our website, join our email list, or join our Facebook Group to be notified of future blog posts, podcast episodes, live Facebook video discussions, and useful free content to help you deal with Prediabetes and prevent type 2.


You can join the Prediabetes and lifestyle discussion below or in our private Facebook community Prediabetes and Beyond.


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

This report will help you:

  • Uncover what prediabetes really is and what it means for you.
  • Learn what all those confusing blood sugar numbers mean.
  • Discover the steps to take to keep prediabetes from progressing to full type 2 diabetes


and much more.

Gary Barclay-Author

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.

References

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