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It is easy to see the vast changes in American lifestyles over the past 50 to 100 years. Some changes have been for the better and some for the worse. Americans’ eating and lifestyle habits have taken a turn for the worse. Fast food chains are everywhere; processed foods have taken over the majority of aisles at the grocery store, and sugary drinks are readily accessible everywhere you turn. Junk is literally EVERYWHERE! The movement away from exercising and cooking fresh, home-made meals and into the fast food lane has lead to a dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes. What’s even more concerning is that there are about 86 million people who are prediabetic and on their way to becoming type 2 diabetics. They just don’t know yet.
What exactly is prediabetes?
WebMD states, “If you have it, your blood sugar (glucose) level is higher than it should be, but not in the diabetes range.” What’s worse is that, if you discover that you have prediabetes, you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within the next five years.
The Centers for Disease Control states, “In 2009−2012, based on fasting glucose or A1C levels, 37% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older had prediabetes. Applying this percentage to the entire U.S. population in 2012 yields an estimated 86 million Americans aged 20 years or older with prediabetes.” That is an astounding number.
Even people who think they are taking care of themselves and show no sign of being overweight can be unaware that they are prediabetic. It is important to be proactive in stopping diabetes by taking an extra step to take care of yourself, and now is the time.
What is the first step?
The first step is finding out if you are at risk of being prediabetic.
If you think you may be at risk of having prediabetes, consider these risk factors:
- Weight – The Mayo Clinic says, “Being overweight is a primary risk factor for prediabetes.” The more overweight you are the more likely it is that your cells will become resistant to insulin. This is what leads to type 2 diabetes.
- Age – The older you get, the more likely to are to have prediabetes. Aging is inevitable, but by staying active, eating healthy foods, managing your weight, and keeping your blood pressure under control you can reduce your risk of prediabetes.
- Family History – If someone in your immediate family, for instance one of your parents or siblings, has type 2 diabetes, then you are at higher risk. However, a family history of diabetes does not condemn you to having it as well. The lifestyle choices you make can prevent or delay prediabetes.
- High Blood Pressure – If you have ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you are at higher risk for prediabetes. High blood pressure and prediabetes are manageable and treatable if you make lifestyle changes that benefit your health.
- Gender - Men are more likely than women to have prediabetes.
- Ethnicity – If you are African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Asian, you are more likely to develop prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Activity Level – The more active you are, the easier it will be to avoid prediabetes. Active can mean many things. You can get out and mow the lawn, walk, run, go to the gym, or play a sport you love. There are numerous ways to get or stay active. Find what you love doing that gets your heart rate pumping and do it at least 3-5 days per week.
The Finger Test – An Interactive Way To Find Out If You Might Be At Risk
Dr. Richard Besser reported on ABC News that one quick way is to find out if you may be prediabetic, meaning you are at risk of having diabetes, is to use a simple finger test.
What Do I Do If I Am At High Risk?
Contact your doctor. Your general practitioner will evaluate you and help determine whether or not you need to see a doctor who specializes in prediabetes, otherwise known as an endocrinologist.
Your doctor can screen you with a blood test known as an A1C that indicates your blood glucose level average over the past couple of months. The A1C will determine your exact blood glucose level and can accurately determine whether or not you are prediabetic. This is the same test that diabetics use to monitor and evaluate how well they are managing their diabetes.
If you are found to be prediabetic, your doctor is going to recommend some ways to reverse the situation and help prevent you from becoming full-blown diabetic. Nothing too painful though!