what is prediabetes?

November 26, 2019

Prediabetes is estimated to effect ~84 million Americans, yet many do not know what it is or their risk factors. Simply put, prediabetes is an elevated blood sugar level, not high enough to be considered diabetes, but too high to be normal.

Blood sugar is also called blood glucose. Your body, with the help of several organs and systems, keeps your blood glucose within a target range. When blood glucose fluctuates out-of-range - either too high or too low, complications and symptoms can occur.

For optimal health, it is important for your blood glucose to be in range. When it goes too high out of range, there may be a  diagnosis of diabetes.

But diabetes, specifically Type 2 diabetes, does not happen all at once. It is a gradual progressive disease. This is where a diagnosis of prediabetes can help to mitigate or slow the progression to a diagnosis of diabetes.

One of the reasons for talking about prediabetes is that many times doctors will test blood sugar and let their patients know that it is within normal range. But I find that many people may not know their specific numbers. It is important to know these numbers so that you know if you are low normal or high normal. Many people don't realize what their numbers mean and how much at risk they may be for prediabetes.

Fasting Blood Glucose Test Numbers

A routine physical exam will usually involve checking fasting blood glucose levels. These are done after a fast of at least 8 hours.

Blood Glucose within Range: 80- 99 mg/dL
PREDIABETES: 100-125 mg/dL
Diabetes: 126 mg/dL*

These numbers are from the Diabetes Standards of Care and are not the only criteria. 

When fasting blood glucose falls within the range of 100 - 125 mg/dL - there is an increased risk of diabetes.
The good news: lifestyle changes can decrease the risk of progressing to diabetes by 58%!
Which means that an individual who is aware of an elevated blood glucose level can be proactive in taking the steps necessary to decrease their risk. Awareness is key.

Let's talk about about High Normal

Being within normal blood glucose range is where we would like to be. However, even the normal is a range of risk. Having a fasting blood glucose of 80 puts someone at a much lower risk of prediabetes vs. someone whose fasting BG is 99 mg/dL. Yes, 99 is within normal range, but it is only 1 point away from prediabetes. This is why it is so important to know what your numbers actually are.

Why I want you to know?

Nutrition and health can be information overload. There is so many websites, articles, posts, news stories, etc. that is hard to figure out what to pay attention to. And everyones health journey is different. However, with 84 million people with prediabetes, I find it so important to know your numbers and what they mean - especially if you are high normal and only a couple points away from prediabetes.

Knowing we are 1 point away from prediabetes can increase our awareness.
Knowing we are 1 point away from prediabetes empowers us to make changes.
Knowing we are 1 point away from prediabetes encourages us to take control of our health.

Now what?

So if you do know your numbers and find you are high normal or prediabetic, you can talk to your doctor or a nutritionist or dietitian to help you get on track and decrease your risk for developing diabetes. The great thing is that the lifestyle changes that decrease your risk by 58% are simply the same things we always talk about for good health - a healthy diet, modest weight loss if necessary, exercise. 

*A diagnosis of diabetes should always be done by a physician.
Source: Diabetes statistics
Source: Diabetes Risk Test

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