Prediabetes (High Blood Sugar)
Before a person develops Type 2 Diabetes, they always develop prediabetes beforehand (but may never be aware). As the name suggests, prediabetes is the condition that occurs prior to diabetes. Essentially, prediabetes is when a person’s blood sugar numbers are higher than the “normal” guidelines but not as high as a person with full-fledged diabetes. The good news is, if a person is on the verge of getting or already has prediabetes, this doesn’t automatically mean that he or she will end up with Type 2 Diabetes.
However, to curb the onset of diabetes, it is critical if you are showing any signs or symptoms of prediabetes that you schedule an appointment with a functional medicine provider near you. If left untreated, prediabetes, in most cases, will manifest into Type 2 Diabetes, a chronic condition that is much more challenging to reverse than prediabetes.
Let’s take a look at what the causes, risk factors, and symptoms are of prediabetes, as well as the testing required to discover whether or not high blood sugar is present. We will also discuss holistic treatment options and lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of both prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Do You Have Prediabetes/ High Blood Sugar?
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons that people develop Type 2 Diabetes is because the symptoms of prediabetes often go unnoticed or are not present. Only 10% of people with prediabetes even know they have it since many do not display signs and conventional medicine is not catching it. One symptom of prediabetes is darkened skin (acanthosis nigricans) around the elbows, knees, knuckles, neck, and armpits. However, not all people have this prediabetic symptom. Meaning just because you don’t have darkened skin around your knuckles, armpits, neck, etc., doesn’t mean that you are in the clear. Other symptoms that could indicate prediabetes include:
- constant thirst
- increased urination at night
- blurry vision
- cuts and sores that won’t heal
Aside from getting blood tests to determine whether or not you are prediabetic, some common risk factors of prediabetes to pay attention to are:
- Being overweight or obese
- Carrying most of your weight in your midsection
- Not maintaining a regular exercise routine
- A diet heavy in excess carbohydrates, sugary foods and drinks as well as red and processed meats
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes or delivering a baby over 9 lbs at birth
- Having a family history of Type 2 Diabetes
- Being over the age of 45
- Being African-American, Hispanic and Latino, American Indian, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander
Testing for High Blood Sugar & Prediabetes
As functional medicine providers in Oak Brook, IL, our primary goal is to treat you and your health as a whole, not just the symptoms you are displaying (or, in some cases, not showing). To do this, we work to uncover WHY you are not feeling your healthiest and, with our help, provide you with the tools to discover HOW you can start taking control of your health. This means that, along with getting to know you and your health history, we will also recommend additional testing be done if necessary at your appointment. For patients who are concerned or may be displaying symptoms of high blood sugar and prediabetes, we recommend at least one of the following tests to identify prediabetes:
- A1C Test – This blood test measures the percent of sugar that is attached to your hemoglobin (a protein found in your red blood cells) over the past three months. Normal A1C numbers are considered to be anything below 5.7% (and optimal levels are below 5.3%), prediabetes A1C numbers fall between 5.7% and 6.4%. Anything above 6.5% indicates Type 2 Diabetes.
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test – This blood test measures the sugar in your blood and is performed after you’ve been fasting overnight. Normal blood sugar numbers are anything lower than 100 mg/dL (and optimal levels are below 85 mg/dL), prediabetes numbers will be a result of 100 to 125 mg/dL, and a reading of 126 mg/dL or higher indicates a diagnosis of diabetes.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – For this blood test, your blood is taken after an overnight fast and then two hours after you consume a sugary drink. High blood sugar numbers that are indicative of prediabetes fall between 140 and 199 mg/dL with 200 mg/dl or more being a sign of Type 2 Diabetes.
Depending on your results from these tests, and other information gathered from your consultation with your family doctor in Oak Brook, you may be required to have additional diagnostic testing done before a treatment plan is implemented.
Treating Prediabetes With Functional Medicine
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, there are specific lifestyle changes that both functional medicine providers recommend and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests. These include, but are not limited to:
- Create a “Blood Sugar Friendly” Diet Plan – If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or have high blood sugar, one of the first things we recommend is working closely with a functional healthcare provider. They will be able to help you design a meal plan that is focused on controlling your blood sugar levels as well as taking into account your preferences. Changing your diet isn’t something that happens overnight, so be patient and compassionate with yourself as you develop healthier eating habits.
- Incorporate movement into your daily routine – Exercising can lower your blood glucose levels and can assist your body in becoming less insulin resistant, since exercising decreases the level of insulin required to transport glucose. The ADA recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. That breaks down into 30 minutes, five days a week. For individuals who are overweight, low impact exercises such as swimming and walking are a great place to start. Riding a bike, dancing, jogging, and strength training are also ways to incorporate movement into your life.
- Lose Weight – Lastly, losing just 7% of your starting weight, which often happens naturally when you begin to eat a more balanced diet and exercise, can help to delay and prevent diabetes. Furthermore, weight loss aids in the reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol, which are common conditions seen with prediabetes and diabetes.
Of course, every person and situation is unique, so the above treatment options may not work for you. To ensure that you are following the most effective treatment to stop the onset of Type 2 Diabetes, discuss your treatment options with your provider. He or she will be able to equip you with the knowledge and the confidence to start living your life on your terms. We invite you to contact Vitality Family Health at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment with one of our functional medicine providers in Oak Brook, IL. Let us help you take back control of your health once and for all.