How to stop prediabetes becoming diabetes

Follow these vital lifestyle changes to ensure your prediabetes doesn’t progress to diabetes.

04 March 2016
by Meg de Jong

Prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are abnormal, but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. However, if it is not managed, there is a real risk that it will progress to Type 2 diabetes in 10 years’ time.

However, there is a silver lining in the dark cloud. “The good thing about prediabetes is that there is time to do something about it,” says Kate Bristow, a diabetes specialist nurse who runs a centre for diabetes in Pietermaritzburg. The goal when avoiding it progressing to diabetes, she explains, is to try and stabilise blood sugar levels in the normal range (anything from 5-8mmol/l depending on whether the sugar is tested before or after a meal).

The most effective way to achieve this is via a combination of lifestyle changes. “I cannot stress enough the importance of diet, exercise and weight loss in the management of prediabetes,” says Bristow. “These measures are often enough to manage the condition on a long-term basis and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. There are serious consequences of failing to take action after a prediabetes diagnosis. Damage to the heart and other organs may have already begun, and the condition will progress to Type 2 diabetes if nothing is done. The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure,’ has never been truer, and a prediabetes diagnosis is a very important indication that you need to make significant changes to your lifestyle." 

Follow these four recommended lifestyle changes immediately:

1. Change your diet

The first step is to cut back on carbohydrate-dense foods, such as bread, potatoes and rice. Sugar needs to be completely eradicated from the diet, except for fruit, which can be eaten in moderation. Low-fat, high-fibre food along with whole grains and plenty of fresh vegetables are the ideal.  

2. Increase your exercise

The recommended bare minimum of exercise is 45 minutes, three times a week. This can be anything from walking, cycling, running, dancing, swimming to gym. “The important thing is that you enjoy whichever option you do,” says Bristow. She recommends seeking the help of a biokineticist to guide the build-up of fitness if it’s been a long while since you last exercised. 

3. Seek help from a dietician

If you are diagnosed as prediabetic, it is a good idea to consult with a dietician. They will guide you to the correct weight that you should be, and help you to achieve that goal. A 2002 study at George Washington University showed that making lifestyle changes to increase physical activity and lose weight reduced the incidence of diabetes by 58%.

Bristow notes that not everyone who is diagnosed with prediabetes is overweight, but she maintains that a dietician can still be invaluable in teaching you skills for permanent lifestyle management of prediabetes and your overall health.

4. Consider medication

In some instances, doctors will prescribe medication to assist with management of prediabetes. This depends on the individual doctor and the patients other risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, explains Bristow.  

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Clicks Clinics will help you prevent, identify and manage diabetes with their wide range of screening tests and health assessments.

These include:

  • Glucose Screening with Consultation
  • Urine Test (tests for blood, protein and glucose)
  • Blood Pressure Test
  • Cholesterol Testing and Consultation
  • Lipogram Blood Test (to determine different types of cholesterol)
  • Foot Screening Consultation (to check for diabetes-related foot problems)
  • Clicks Full Basic Screening (BP, Body Mass Index or BMI, meal guide and exercise plan)
  • Clicks Screening Measurements only (BP and BMI)
  • Clicks Comprehensive Screening (BP, BMI, Glucose and Cholesterol screening, plus meal and exercise plan).

To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clicks Clinics online.

Read More: Diabetes Super Section