Pre-diabetes is the condition that is often seen before the onset of type II diabetes. This occurs when blood sugar levels are high, but not elevated enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. There are 57 million people in the Unites States with pre-diabetes.
The normal range for fasting blood sugar is 100 mg/dL or less. If the blood sugar reaches 126 mg/dL during a fasting state the individual is considered to have diabetes. Pre-diabetes is marked by a blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dL. People with pre-diabetes are at higher risk of heart disease and have a 1.5-fold risk of developing heart disease compared to people with normal blood sugar. People with diabetes have a 2- to 4-fold increased risk of heart disease. We now know that people with pre-diabetes can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes through dietary and lifestyle changes. It is estimated that around 50 percent of those diagnosed with this condition, go on to develop type 2 diabetes at some point.
Physicians usually do not prescribe medication for pre-diabetes. The typical treatment is to decrease the controllable risk factors associated with diabetes such as body weight and physical activity level. Improved blood sugar levels may be achieved through a balanced diet and regular exercise. The recommendation is non-stop exercise for 30 minutes, at least five days a week. For those who have not maintained physical fitness it is important to consult with a physician before starting an exercise program.
An Overview of a Pre-Diabetes Diet
There is no specific diet for those affected by pre-diabetes. However, a diabetes diet is appropriate for individuals affected by pre-diabetes. This includes reducing intake of sweetened beverages, high-sugar foods, fatty meats, and alcoholic beverages. However, the continued intake of healthy sources of carbohydrates such as fruit, whole grains, and vegetables is encouraged.
Vegetables and fruits are essential to a healthy diet plan. Vegetables in any form; processed, cooked, or raw, are healthful. Choose plenty of low carbohydrate vegetables such as carrots, green beans, cucumber, lettuce, and broccoli. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, winter squash, and corn are higher in carbohydrate and should be eaten in appropriate portion sizes. Grains, beans, legumes, and other carbohydrate foods should be consumed in proper portion sizes.
It is important to eat protein foods to ensure a balanced diet. Protein sources include, lean meat, chicken, fish, and egg whites. Vegetarians should consult with a registered dietitian to ensure that they are receiving enough protein to promote optimal nutrition. Low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk and yogurt can also be part of a pre-diabetes diet program.
Weight control by initiating a healthy diet plan and increased physical activity is an important part of preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes. Foods that should be limited or avoided include pastries, cakes, sodas, and candy. Sugar-free alternatives like diet soda may be used occasionally to increase the variety of the diet.
Finally, those with pre-diabetes should follow up with their physician regularly to monitor their condition and progress.
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