Ask a Coach: What is prediabetes, and can I cure myself of it?
You may have heard the term “prediabetes” before. Maybe you heard about it from the news, or even from your doctor. But what is it?
The basics of prediabetes
Prediabetes is when the body’s cells have trouble using sugar in the blood for energy. This means too much sugar stays in the blood. This can affect how the heart and blood vessels work. Without changes to diet and lifestyle, the problem can get worse and lead to type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes can be diagnosed using different tests, like the hemoglobin A1c (also known as HbA1c or A1c). This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Your A1c is normal if it is below 5.7%. An A1c between 5.7% and 6.4% means you likely have prediabetes.
Risk factors for prediabetes
While the cause of prediabetes is unclear, there are risk factors that come into play. People are more at risk for prediabetes if they:
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Are overweight
- Are older than age 45
- Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Have ever had gestational diabetes
- Are not physically active
- Are African American, Latinx or Native American
Some of these risk factors are out of your control. But there are other things you do have the power to influence. By making a few healthy changes, you could slow the progression of prediabetes—or even reverse it!
Ways to prevent or reverse prediabetes
Making healthy lifestyle habits can have a huge impact on prediabetes. Those healthy changes can include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting regular physical activity
- Quitting tobacco
- Managing stress
- And getting plenty of good sleep
Change can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. For example, if you have excess weight, losing 5% to 7% of your body weight can sharply reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.
And while losing weight may be hard, getting even 150 minutes of physical activity each week lowers your risk for diabetes.
It’s also helpful to get support as you work to make changes. You could reach out to friends, coworkers and family members to encourage you or help you stick to your goals. Our coaches are also helpful supports! You can schedule a personalized coaching session here.
If you’d like to read more about prediabetes and some of the topics mentioned above, check out The Lowdown on Prediabetes from our library.
-Expert Coach Chana T.