Islets of Hope for persons with prediabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe, 03/25/2006. For reprint information e-mail Editor@isletsofhope.com
Lifestyle Changes - Diet, Exercise, Sports, Stress Management
Did You Know?
... that the diabetes drug Glucophage (metformin), a biguanide, reduced the risk of diabetes in those with prediabetes but was less successful than simply losing weight and increasing activity? (NIH DPP Study) See our Lifestyles section to learn how you can improve your health without medication.
... that prediabetes can be reversed without insulin or medication by losing a modest amount of weight and increasing your physical activity?
Approximately 20% more adults are now believed to have this condition and may develop diabetes within 10 years if they do not exercise or maintain a healthy weight.
Lifestyle changes for treating prediabetes (or, pre-diabetes)
IOH Health Tip: Those with prediabetes, who do nothing about it, will most likely develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years of being diagnosed with prediabetes. But by making healthy changes in your lifestyle now you can reduce this risk significantly, and may even be able to completely reverse prediabetes by "retraining" your body how to properly use its own insulin.
Things you can do to help yourself
Know your body mass index (BMI). A high BMI can be a risk factor for developing insulin resistance or prediabetes. Body Mass Index Table (BMI) (information and chart)
Lose weight. Losing just 5 to 7% of excess body weight through diet and increased physical activity (e.g., walking 5 days a week 30 minutes a day) reduces the risk of developing 2 diabetes by 58%. And for persons age 60 and over changes in lifestyle can reduced the risk by 71%.
Exercise, and most significantly anaerobic activities like strength training and resistance exercises, can increase insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells. Some studies have shown that weight training can increase muscle cells sensitivity by as much as 12-15% -- the same increase as is seen in some patients who take Glucophage. Another reason for including strength training in your exercise program is that muscle burns more calories than fat and may help to increase your basal metabolic rate and contribute to successful weight loss.
Aerobic exercise is also important. Aerobic exercise requires the use of large muscles and makes your heart beat faster. Aerobic activities like walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling require a great deal of oxygen to make the energy needed for prolonged exercise. You will breathe harder during aerobic exercise and this form of exercise can also help increase insulin sensitivity and for weight loss.
Anaerobic Exercise. "Anaerobic" means "without oxygen." Anaerobic exercise uses muscles at high intensity and a high rate of work for a short period of time. Anaerobic exercise increases muscle strength. Examples of anaerobic exercise include heavy weight lifting, sprinting, or any rapid burst of hard exercise. These anaerobic exercises cannot last long because oxygen is not used for energy and a by-product, called lactic acid, is produced.
Watch your blood pressure. Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise can go a long way towards helping you to maintain healthy blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases the risk of many serious health problems including heart disease. If you have diabetes, your doctor will probably prescribe medication in addition to recommending lifestyle changes because the combination of diabetes and high blood pressure increases your risk of stroke and heart disease more than those without diabetes.
Watch your cholesterol. There are two kinds of cholesterol that can be easily tested to help determine your risk of cardiovascular (heart) problems. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (sometimes called "bad" cholesterol) should be under 100. Your high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (sometimes called "good" cholesterol) should be above 50 if you are a woman and above 40 if you are a man. Your total cholesterol should be below 200. One again, quitting smoking, losing or maintaining a health weight, exercising, and eating foods low in fat, and high in good nutrients will go a long way towards keeping your cholesterol levels in check and helping you avoid serious health risks associated with poor cholesterol values as well as may eliminate the need to having to take cholesterol medications.
Quit Smoking. Smoking contributes to insulin resistance as well as increases your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking can be hard, but it is not impossible. And many studies indicate that after quitting for 10 years your risks of smoking-relating diseases may even be reduced to the level of that of non-smokers.
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Read our review on The Sharper Image's Carb-Tracker Scale. If you count carbs (or calories, fat, protein, and fiber) the scale is valuable for fine tuning your diet. You weigh food items, enter a food code and voile! Based on the weight of the food the exact nutritional count appears magically. The scale has become a daily part of my carb counting for myself as well as Elizabeth (my daughter with type 1). I was skeptical, but found the weight of fruit and vegetables varies considerably and knowing a more exact carb count has helped us both. If you wish to purchase the scale, click on the button above. From their main page simply enter in the search code item #: AC350, or, Carb-Tracker Nutrition Scale.
Page Updated 09/01/2006