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Sharp Health News

Prediabetes: why you should be tested

March 1, 2016

Prediabetes prevention

Jennifer Purdie ran the Great Wall Marathon in Tianjin Province, China, in 2010.

Every year I add a new check mark next to a new endurance goal. From Ironman to running challenging races in remote places across the globe, I always search for my next feat and prefer running actual marathons to the Netflix binge-watching kind. 

With my lifestyle, I never thought I would hear the word “prediabetes” from my doctor. After regular blood work, fasting glucose tests and second opinions — every year since 2012 — I received a prediabetes diagnosis: I lie right on the cusp of Type 2 diabetes. 

“You need to eat better and exercise,” the doctors say every time they look at my results. 

“How much better?” I ask, feeling deflated. 

More than 86 million Americans (1 in 3 adults) have prediabetes and only 10 percent know about it. They include people like me — people no one would assume would be at risk. 
 
To bring attention to this common issue, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with the Ad Council to create a public service announcement campaign. Launched in January 2016, humor is the defining theme of a series of YouTube videos designed to help those with prediabetes prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. 

In addition, a short online quiz available at DoIHavePrediabetes.org allows you to assess your risk and read answers to frequently asked questions, such as “How long do I have to make healthier choices?” and “How do I qualify for the National Diabetes Prevention Program?”

Michelle Milles, a behavior change expert and health coach for Sharp Health Plan provides the following valuable tips to stave off a prediabetes diagnosis: 

Fill up on fiber. Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits and veggies can help control blood sugar. Avocados and berries — especially raspberries and blackberries — are high in fiber and make for an easy snack. When increasing fiber intake, it is important to remember to do it slowly and to also increase your water intake. 

Don’t skip meals. Try eating small, well-balanced meals that help keep your blood glucose level in a healthy range and make you less likely to overeat at your next meal. I also believe you should not deny yourself what you take pleasure in eating either. I love carbs and incorporate them into my meals. For instance, for breakfast I’ll add granola and dried fruit to low-sugar yogurt. 

And of course, limit your sugar intake. Sugar comes in all forms, especially when it comes to beverages. Try swapping out soda or sweetened beverages with sparkling water with a splash of 100 percent fruit juice, or even better, add your own fresh fruit. As your body adjusts to less sugar, you will most likely crave less. For post-workouts, I like carbonation and will add a splash of sparkling water to an electrolyte sports drink to trick my mind into thinking I am drinking soda. It works. 

Learn more about how to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes with this free prediabetes webinar offered by Sharp Rees-Stealy on Monday, March 7 at noon.

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