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Prediabetes or borderline diabetes: What can we do?

| Updated: May 18, 2022 20:53:05

Prediabetes or borderline diabetes: What can we do?

There is a condition called prediabetes or borderline diabetes when someone doesn’t have a blood sugar level to be diagnosed as a diabetic, but still has high enough sugar to be concerned about.

Almost all people who have type 2 diabetes had prediabetes to start with. It has been estimated that within 5 years of catching this condition, about 10-23 per cent of the patients go on to develop full-blown diabetes.

More worrying is that 80 per cent of prediabetes patients do not even know they have it. That’s because there are no clear symptoms. So, the best way to know whether we have prediabetes is to conduct regular check-ups.

This is particularly important for those with risk factors, e.g. obesity, family history of diabetes, 45 years or older, suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol, leading a sedentary lifestyle and for females, polycystic ovarian disease or history of diabetes in pregnancy. 

Having prediabetes does not mean someone is destined to have diabetes. If appropriate lifestyle changes and physicians’ advice are followed, there is a high possibility of reversing the problem.

The first thing we should consider is doing regular exercise. 30 minutes every day for 5 days, amounting to 150 minutes a week is the minimum we should target for. Nothing intense is necessary. Just brisk walking, swimming, cycling and dancing will do.

Exercise will not work until it is combined with healthy eating. While it is important to be cautious about calorie intake, getting too stressed about the numbers will not help.

Every carb is not off-limits, but we should stay away from highly processed and sugary foods. Chips, cookies, cold drinks, and refined white flour are not good choices. Rather whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables should constitute most of the diet. Drinking plenty of water is also advisable.

Meals should be taken at least three times, spread over the day. Sticking to a regular meal routine is preferable.

A healthy meal should contain grain products or starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes, corn etc.) in 1/4th of the plate and the meat portion should constitute another 1/4th. Half of the plate needs to be vegetables. Half a cup of fruit could be eaten as dessert.

For those with a weight problem, shedding some of it may not be a bad idea. Again, nothing too drastic and no crash course to reduce weight without consulting experts. CDC suggests losing a small amount, 5-10 per cent of the total. For example, a 90 kg man should lose 4-6 kg.

There are other things we need to practice. Getting adequate sleep, for example, is one. We should aim to sleep at least 7-8 hours every day, maintaining a regular schedule.

For smokers, this may be a good time to stop as smoking can significantly raise the possibility of prediabetes turning into diabetes. Learning to manage stress and applying relaxation techniques are also helpful.

Sometimes the physicians prescribe medications for prediabetes. Metformin is commonly prescribed and accepted as a good drug in this condition, worldwide.

If the physician advises medication, it must be taken strictly according to the prescription.

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