Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. It allows your body to use the sugar, or glucose, in your foods for energy and helps keep your blood sugar levels from becoming too high. With prediabetes, your body does not effectively use the insulin, causing your pancreas to increase production and your blood sugar to rise. If your prediabetes is not managed, it can lead to Type 2 diabetes, as well as stroke, kidney disease and heart disease.
“One out of three Americans has prediabetes, but most people don’t even know they have it,” says Kelly Young, manager of patient education and support for Sharp Rees-Stealy's Center for Health Management. “There are often no symptoms related to prediabetes, so it is important to discuss risk factors with your doctor and participate in annual screenings.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), risk factors for prediabetes include:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than three times a week
- Having a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
Young joins the CDC in recommending the following additional steps to help prevent Type 2 diabetes:
- Eat a healthy diet, low in saturated fats and added sugars, and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
- Set a goal to lose 5 to 7% of your body weight if you are overweight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Find ways to manage your stress.
Learn more about the Sharp Rees-Stealy Diabetes Prevention Program or watch this free online workshop to learn about prediabetes risk factors and how to prevent or delay the progression to Type 2 diabetes through nutrition and lifestyle tools.