Prediabetes is often called insulin resistance. You have prediabetes when your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. You can have this condition without being aware of it. To fully understand diabetes, it helps to know how food is digested. Your body needs glucose, a form of sugar, for growth and energy. You get glucose from food. Food is broken down into glucose in your digestive tract. From there it enters your bloodstream and moves into the cells that make up your body.

The pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach, makes insulin and sends it into the bloodstream. There, the insulin attaches to the surface of cells, creating a pathway for glucose to move inside the cells. With diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your body becomes resistant to insulin and can’t process glucose effectively. Without insulin, glucose stays in the blood and your body becomes starved for energy.

Testing for Prediabetes

Prediabetes has no symptoms. It can be found with a blood test called a fasting plasma glucose test. This measures your blood glucose after you have not eaten for at least 8 hours. The fasting blood glucose range for prediabetes is between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter.>

Another test is the hemoglobin A1C test. This measures your average blood sugar over a certain length of time.

Treating Prediabetes

The best way to treat prediabetes is to lose extra weight and be more physically active. These changes help the body’s cells use blood sugar better. Even a small amount of weight loss can help. Work with your healthcare provider to make a plan to eat well and be more active. Keep in mind that small changes can add up. Other changes in your lifestyle may make you less likely to develop diabetes.

Many people with prediabetes carry extra fat around the waist. Often, they don’t get enough exercise. And, they tend to have a hard time controlling their blood fats - like cholesterol and triglycerides. And, they often have high blood pressure. The combination of these problems, along with prediabetes, is called metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome must control these health issues to prevent getting diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

What to Do

If you’re overweight, try to lose weight. Eating smaller amounts of food will help, as will eating less saturated and trans fat.

Avoid the kind of fats found in cheese, butter, fried foods, and packaged snack foods. Instead, choose healthy fats like those found in avocados, olive oil, or peanut butter.

And choose lean meats – like chicken or turkey – and fish – like salmon or tuna – instead of burgers, pizza, or hot dogs.

Have your blood glucose checked as often as your provider says you should to see if it’s changed.

Prediabetes can lead to serious problems. But learning how it can hurt your body is your first step to better health.

What We Have Learned

  1. Prediabetes means a person is at higher risk for developing diabetes. True or False?
    The answer is True. People who carry extra weight around their waist and have high cholesterol and high blood pressure often have higher risk of getting prediabetes.
  2. Prediabetes has no symptoms, and can only be diagnosed with blood tests. True or False?
    The answer is True. You may have a fasting plasma glucose test or a hemoglobin A1C blood test to check for prediabetes.
  3. If I am diagnosed with prediabetes, weight loss is one treatment. True or False?
    The answer is True. Making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise may also keep you from getting type 2 diabetes.