Do you know your fasting blood sugar? If anyone in your family has diabetes, or if you’re overweight, you should! Almost 26 million Americans have diabetes. That’s 8.3% of the U.S. population. Most of those folks have type 2 diabetes, which is often caused and worsened by obesity. Increasingly alarming is the estimated 79 million adults with pre-diabetes, most of whom are unaware of their diagnosis. Pre-diabetics have an increased risk for heart disease, stroke and of course full blown diabetes. Now that we understand the magnitude of the problem, how is diabetes diagnosed and what can be done to prevent it?
Diagnosing diabetes is most often done with a blood test. Your fasting glucose is a measurement of your blood sugar taken after not eating (water is OK) for eight hours. If your fasting glucose is 126 or higher, you have diabetes. 100 – 125 is in the pre-diabetic range. There is another test that has come into favor for the diagnosis of diabetes and that is the hemoglobin A1c. If your A1c is 6.5 or higher, you have diabetes. 5.7 – 6.4 is classified as pre-diabetic by the American Diabetes Association. The advantage of A1c testing is that it doesn’t require any fasting or special preparation. Both of these blood tests are available through your primary care provider.
What should you do if you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes? First and foremost, remember that you are in control and can change your risk of diabetes dramatically with a few simple steps.
- Lose weight. Weight loss of only 5 – 10% can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by over 50%. That means a 200 pound person who loses 10 – 20 pounds will dramatically impact his or her health. 5 – 10% is a manageable goal.
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. The easiest way to lose weight and buff up nutritionally is to pack your diet full of produce. Eat a rainbow of colorful raw fruits and veggies throughout the day. Diabetics and those with pre-diabetes don’t have to shy away from fruit. The natural sugars are not going to get you into trouble. However, drinking soda, energy drinks or eating unhealthy sweets will hold you back from attaining your health goals.
- Move more! Try to be active for 20 – 30 minutes daily. Walking is a great exercise and can be done at various speeds as your fitness level improves. Remember, you don’t have to get all 30 minutes at one time. Taking a 10 – 15 minute walk 2 – 3 times/day provides the same health benefits as a single episode of 20 – 30 minutes.
- If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Smoking + diabetes is a lethal combination.
If you’re overweight, be sure to see your primary care provider to screen for diabetes. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the good news is that you can take charge today and get your blood sugar back on track!
Thanks for listening. I wish you the best of health!
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