Just a “little touch of sugar?”iStock/stocksnapper
If you’re among the 79 million Americans with prediabetes—higher-than-normal levels of blood sugar, which boost your risk for full-blown diabetes and related health problems—don’t shrug it off. New research published in the journal The Lancet found that prediabetic patients who had at least one normal blood sugar reading, even for a short period of time, were 56 percent more likely to avoid progressing to diabetes during nearly six years of follow-up after the study. In other words, “This is your chance to take control,” says Matt Longjohn, MD, MPH, senior director of chronic disease prevention for the YMCA-USA. “Research proves that some simple, daily lifestyle changes can dramatically cut the risk for developing diabetes over the next couple of years by 58 percent, which is better than what is seen with frequently prescribed medications like metformin.”
The key? Avoid these four roadblocks between you and a healthier future.
Prediabetes mistake #1: Thinking a little weight loss won’t helpiStock/martinedoucet
The landmark Diabetes Prevention Program study, which followed 3,234 people with prediabetes for three years, revealed that everyday changes—switching up their eating habits and adding more physical activity—helped participants lose a little weight. Trimming just 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight (that’s 12.5 pounds for a 180 pound person) and exercising slashed the odds for developing full-blown diabetes by a whopping 58 percent. This helps trim abdominal fat—the deep belly fat that settles in your torso, wraps itself around your internal organs, and even invades your liver. It messes with your liver’s ability to regulate blood sugar by pumping out inflammation-boosting compounds that make your body stop obeying insulin.
Smart Move: Start with shrinking your portions. “Getting back to healthy serving sizes is an important part of what we teach in prediabetes classes,” says Brielle McKinney, RN, BSN, a practice manager in the Deaconess Health System’s Diabetes Center in Evansville, Indiana. Don’t want to pull out the measuring cups and scale? In one study at the University of Calgary, 17 percent of people who used a diet plate lost 5 percent or more of their body weight compared with people who didn’t use the portion control tool. Reserve half of your plate for vegetables and fruit, one-fourth for lean protein like chicken, fish, or lean red meat, and one-fourth for a starch like potatoes or rice.