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Many people don't know they have prediabetes – a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Here's the good news: Prediabetes can be reversed.
Through a national study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “millions of high-risk people can delay or avoid developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight through regular physical activity and a diet low in fat calories.”
According to the NIH the three major causes of type 2 diabetes are often within our control. They include:
When we eat, most of our food is turned into glucose, or sugar, that the body uses as energy. With diabetes, blood sugar, or blood glucose, is too high. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, moves the sugar around the body and to our cells.
For a person with diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin or is unable to use the insulin it does make. In either case, sugar builds up in the blood. Over time, this may lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, blindness and more.
There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.
With type 1 diabetes, the body does not make any insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin each day.
With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use it well. This is the most common form of diabetes and the type that can benefit from lifestyle changes.
Adding more physical activity to your day and eating better aren’t new messages. But how do you really make it happen? It may be easier than you think. Start with small steps outlined in these tips. Healthy actions do add up!
Delaying diabetes is the first step to preventing diabetes. Along with making healthy changes, talk with your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. Be sure to let your care provider know if you have a family history of diabetes.
Originally published December 5, 2016 Revised 2019, 2020; 2021
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