by Janelle Lah, Reid Hospital
Palladium Item, Oct. 31, 2007
Pre-diabetes affects nearly 54 million Americans and many are unaware of what is occurring in their bodies. Pre-diabetes occurs when a person’s pancreas is no longer capable of producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. The deficiency, however, is not severe enough to be labeled diabetes. Some people tend to be at a higher risk for developing pre-diabetes. Certain ethnicities, such as African Americans, Native American Indians, Latinos, Asian Americans and those of Pacific Islander descent are at the highest risk of developing pre-diabetes. In addition, having a family history of diabetes, being overweight, over 45 years of age and having a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk. Other factors, such as having high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome and/or having a baby greater than nine pounds also raise the chances of having pre-diabetes.A diagnosis of pre-diabetes does not mean that diabetes is inevitable. Lifestyle interventions can delay and possibly prevent the development of diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program trial found that just modest weight loss in overweight individuals, along with increased physical activity, could prevent diabetes for several years. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to get to your ideal weight and run marathons to avoid diabetes.
Following a healthy diet also plays a big role in diabetes prevention. One that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein sources and limits simple sugars and unhealthy fats is recommended. Fad diets, although they may assist in temporary weight loss, are not recommended as they are lacking in some key nutrients and may also contribute to the development of diabetes by promoting unhealthy eating habits.
Despite making lifestyle changes, unfortunately, diabetes is unavoidable for some. It is estimated that 21 million Americans have diabetes and approximately one-third of them don’t even know it. Not everyone will develop symptoms initially with diabetes. Common symptoms may include, but are not limited to: excessive thirst, frequent urination, being more hungry or tired than usual and/or having blurred vision. If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms and has had a blood sugar level that is above normal, it is important for them to follow up with their doctor for further testing.
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