Prediabetes, Steps You Can Take to Reduce it

Prediabetes - Steps You Can Take to Reduce It

You may have heard of diabetes, but what is prediabetes? Prediabetes is a condition in which the sugar in your blood increases above the normal level, although not as high as the level needed to be diagnosed as diabetes. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, prediabetes affects one in three adults in the United States (1). Without treatment, prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. If you have prediabetes, it means that your body is having trouble processing sugar properly. The good news is that prediabetes is reversible, and you can prevent or slow down the onset of type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods, less sugary foods and getting exercise on a regular basis.

Prediabetes diagnosis

When you get a diagnosis of prediabetes, it can be easy to panic and start to fret about the worst case scenario. A better way to approach it is to think of it as a warning sign. As mentioned, it is reversible, so now is the time to do something about it.

Diabetes is diagnosed when your HBa1c blood sugar test reading is above 48 mmol/ml (2). Prediabetes is diagnosed at over 42 mmol/ml, up to 47 mmol/ml (3). We won’t go into what mmol/ml means, as that is not necessary. All you need to know is how to reduce it to below 42 mmol/ml.

So what do I need to do, you ask? Rather than leaping in and trying to make huge changes to both your diet and physical activity, it is advisable to make small changes that are sustainable. It was likely poor diet and lack of exercise that contributed to your prediabetes diagnosis, but it was more than likely the compound effect of many things over many years. But it's never too late to start.

Take Action

If your doctor has told you that you have prediabetes, it's time to take action. This condition increases the likelihood of you being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which, in turn, can lead to other serious health problems. These include heart disease, stroke (4), and kidney damage (5). But the good news is that prediabetes is reversible. And it starts with making small changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Cutting back on sugar and refined carbs is a great place to start. These foods cause your blood sugar to spike, which can lead to insulin resistance over time (6). Unfortunately, this may not be as simple as it sounds because sugar is just as addictive as cocaine (7). Giving up sugar all at once is not maintainable in the long term. This is because, just like with opioid drugs, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These could be irritability or depression linked to the craving for sweet foods. Again, there is no necessity to understand exactly why this happens, other than it is to do with the release of the hormone dopamine, which gives us a reward effect when we eat sugary foods (7).

Steps to overcome prediabetes

Small steps

To overcome this, you need to reduce sugar in small steps. If you take two sugars in tea or coffee, reduce it by half a teaspoon and progress from there once you get used to the taste. Do not be tempted to use artificial sweeteners, as they are just as sweet as sugar, if not more so, and will still make you crave even more sweetness in your food or drinks. Consequently, you are less likely to opt for foods that don’t contain sugar, such as vegetables (8). With that being said, xylitol and erythritol are natural sweeteners that are less sweet than sugar and also contain fewer calories. They are granular, like table sugar, so they can be used in baking if you really cannot do without biscuits. These are a much better option, and two studies (9) (10) have even found that erythritol has protective effects against the effects of diabetes.

Half your sugar intake

Other ways to reduce your sugar intake are to have one or two biscuits instead of the whole packet, and swap a sugar-laden dessert for some fresh fruit, especially berries, as these are much lower in sugar. Or simply have a smaller portion.

Processed carbohydrates

Processed carbohydrates include biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals, pies, and pastries, which, along with supermarket-ready meals, are best removed from your shopping list. Instead, focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, along with lean proteins such as chicken and fish. This is because fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain fibre, which slows down the speed at which food is digested and also keeps blood sugar levels steady. Protein also takes longer to digest and helps regulate blood sugar (11). If you really struggle to give up fast food or ready meals, try adding lots of vegetables or salad to the meal and eating them first.

Diabetes Symptoms: cream-biscuits

Eat more vegetables

Eating the vegetables first will fill you up due to the fibre content, so you will hopefully eat fewer processed foods. This strategy of adding healthy elements to your meals means you won’t feel like you are going without your favourite foods, but you are adding lots of nutrients that can help boost your immune system and slow the progress of prediabetes to full-blown diabetes.

Light exercises

The next change you need to make in your life is to increase your activity levels. This is because exercise helps to regulate insulin resistance, reduce Hba1c and improve cardiovascular health, all of which have many overall health benefits (12). Ideally, just 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can help improve blood sugar control. This doesn’t mean you have to invest in a gym membership or lots of equipment or gadgets. A brisk walk after your main meal will do. All you need to do is think of ways to add extra movement to your day. Here are a few suggestions: If you drive to work, park as far away as you can and walk the last bit; take the stairs instead of the lift/elevator; march on the spot when you are cleaning your teeth; and walk around when you are chatting on your phone instead of sitting down.

High-intensity exercises

If you fancy doing more exercise, you could join a running group, or there are absolutely thousands of different exercises online. These range from seated exercises for the less mobile, to aerobic dance exercises and high-intensity training. There is no excuse to get bored, and no excuse not to find something that you can start with. Just remember to warm up and stretch afterwards to avoid injury.


Making these changes may not be easy at first. But stick with it, and you'll be on your way to reversing prediabetes and reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Whether you're just diagnosed with prediabetes or have had it for a while, making changes now will help your health in the short and long term. These changes may seem small, but they can make a big difference in your health. So don't wait—take action today. Just remember, prediabetes is reversible. With some effort, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and other serious health problem


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