Diabetes awareness and prevention is always a hot topic among the senior population, but what about prediabetes? Awareness of prediabetes is incredibly important to our overall health, yet the CDC estimates a staggering 88 million American adults have prediabetes and 84% of those are unaware they have it!
So what is prediabetes? Simply put, prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes doesn’t have any clear symptoms, so it often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed.
The good news is that a prediabetes diagnosis does not mean you will surely progress to having type 2 diabetes. It means you are at greater risk, but with proper mitigation and the guidance of a medical professional, it also means you are better educated and able to make the changes necessary to avoid type 2 diabetes.
How Do I Know If I Have Prediabetes?
Talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested, regularly. Particularly if you fall into any of these more at-risk groups:
- Having a family history of diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes
- Being overweight
- Limited physical activity
- African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Native American or Pacific Islander
- Diet rich in processed meat & sugar-sweetened beverages
- Over 45 years old
- Tobacco user
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Disrupted sleep patterns or sleep apnea
I Have Prediabetes. What Now?
In a way, finding out you have prediabetes is a beneficial tool in preventing type 2 diabetes. Because you haven’t progressed to type 2 diabetes, you likely aren’t experiencing the symptoms associated with diabetes. You can make a few simple lifestyle changes to control your blood sugar levels and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Change Up Your Diet
If you have a lot of red meat, processed foods or sugar-added beverages in your diet, start switching those out for healthier snacks and beverages. Introduce more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains into your diet. Switch your vegetable and canola oil out for healthier olive and avocado oil, and make sure to cut down on the processed foods and meats.
Cutting out those sugary beverages can be tricky if you’ve become accustomed to the sweetness. Try phasing them out by introducing new beverages you can make easily at home such as infused water or replacing it with kombucha or green tea.
Increase Your Activity
Increasing your activity levels will also help stabilize your prediabetes. You don’t need to start running marathons, just simply introduce 15–30 minutes of moderately strenuous activity into your daily routine!
This can take many forms, whether it be walking, jogging, swimming, or exercising with weights and machines. Physical activity helps moderate your blood sugar levels, but you will want to stay consistent!
Prediabetes awareness is very important, particularly for seniors, as it can help us make the lifestyle changes we need to ensure a longer, healthier and happier life. Be sure to talk to you doctor about getting your blood sugar levels tested regularly, and check on your diet and lifestyle. Your golden years should be just that—golden!