What is Prediabetes?

What is Prediabetes?

I often tell my patients that when we find high fasting glucose or an elevated hemoglobin A1c on your screening labs for the first time, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. You’ve just been alerted to potential trouble brewing in your body.

Prediabetes can catch many by surprise, but it presents an opportunity to transform your daily decisions into a powerful tool for preventing diabetes.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition when your body’s blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Sometimes prediabetes is also referred to as glucose resistance or impaired glucose tolerance. According to the CDC more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States have prediabetes but most don’t know they have it. Having your doctor check your fasting blood glucose level annually will help determine if you are developing prediabetes. 

Briefly, the pancreas is an organ situated near your stomach that produces insulin. In prediabetes, the high levels of blood sugar cause your pancreas to produce a lot of insulin. Over time, those high levels of insulin damage the body’s cells enough that the cells no longer allow blood sugar into them.

As a result, instead of fueling your cells the sugar builds up in the bloodstream, perpetuating the problem. Since insulin promotes weight gain and prevents weight loss the cells become even less able to take in surrounding blood sugar, eventually leading to diabetes (type 2).  

Risk factors for prediabetes are plentiful: 

  • Being overweight – this also includes a larger waist. If the hip to waist ratio is too small it indicates an unhealthy level of abdominal fat. For men, a waist of over 40 inches is a risk factor for prediabetes, in women a waist measurement of over 35 inches. 
  • Diet – a diet high in sugary-drinks, highly processed foods, and high in simple carbohydrates increases the risk of developing prediabetes
  • Inactivity – lack of physical activity is a risk factor
  • Gestational diabetes – people who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant have a higher risk of developing prediabetes and diabetes type 2 later in life
  • High blood pressure – having high blood pressure is a risk factor for prediabetes
  • Tobacco use – smoking increases insulin resistance and increases the likelihood of complications in later stages of diabetes
  • Age – prediabetes typically appears in individuals over the age of 35
  • Family history – a family member with diabetes increases your chance of developing prediabetes, indicating a genetic predisposition in some cases 

While you can’t change your  age or family history, the other risk factors can be improved!  

Our naturopathic doctors begin by guiding you on making food choices to lower diabetes risk and boost your well-being. Start by opting for nutritious foods like cutting back on refined carbs and sugary items, while increasing intake of healthy proteins, fiber, and veggies. 

To manage prediabetes comprehensively, it’s also important to upgrade your exercise routine, quit tobacco, and improve the tools you use to handle stress. Starting off with daily walks is a fantastic way to boost physical activity and lower stress levels.

Feeling a bit lost on where to begin?

Embarking on a health-promoting nutrition plan may seem overwhelming, but fret not, we’re here to assist you every step of the way.

Feel free to schedule a consultation with the providers at Naturopathic Family Health.  

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Dr. Jennifer Potter ND

Dr. Jennifer Potter, ND
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose


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