Prediabetes is a condition whereby your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
However, if left untreated, your condition can worsen and eventually lead to raised blood sugar, a higher risk of getting diabetes, and developing heart disease.
A diagnosis of prediabetes can be scary, but it can also be considered a wake-up call.
By making changes to your lifestyle and implementing a healthy diet, you can reduce your risk of prediabetes and even reverse the diagnosis.
Your doctor may tell you that you have prediabetes if you have:
- Fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dl.
- An oral glucose tolerance test of 140 to 199 mg/dl.
- Glycated hemoglobin (A1c range) of 5.7 to 6.4%.
What does a prediabetic diet include?
Healthy carbs include whole grains, such as 100 percent whole-grain bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain breakfast cereal.
Starchy foods are naturally low in fat, and high-fiber choices such as whole-grain will help you feel fuller for longer. A small amount of starchy food should be eaten with each meal.
Fruit and vegetables
In a long-term study of more than 200,000 health professionals, researchers found that moderately reducing animal foods was associated with a 20% less risk for type 2 diabetes.
However, for those with the very healthiest plant-based diets (including fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains), the reduction in type 2 diabetes risk was 34%. When choosing vegetables, opt for less-starchy kinds such as spinach and other leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and green beans
Dietary fiber is extremely beneficial for people dealing with diabetes. Fiber is beneficial for the treatment of diabetes as it helps to reduce cholesterol and improve your blood sugar levels while helping to keep insulin levels nice and stable.
Dietary fiber helps to slow down rates of digestion nutrient absorption, meaning that glucose sugars in foods you consume reach your bloodstream much slower than usual.
The omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish are necessary for brain and heart health, and our bodies cannot produce them on their own. Therefore, we can only get them from the foods we eat.
Fatty fish also help you stay full for longer and are an excellent source of protein. A systematic review and meta-analysis found that short-term fish oil supplementation is associated with increasing the insulin sensitivity among those people with metabolic disorders.
Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol levels.
The ADA reports that a diet high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can improve blood sugar control and blood lipids in people with diabetes. The ideal healthy fats are animal fats from grass-fed organic meat, avocados, Nuts, Canola, olive oils.
How diet affects prediabetes
Being overweight is one of the number one risks of both prediabetes and diabetes. The more adipose tissue you have, the higher the risk of you becoming insulin resistant. This is especially true for people that store a large amount of fat around the abdominal area.
The risk of insulin resistance goes up for men with waists larger than 40 inches and women with waists larger than 35 inches.
Those with prediabetes tend to carry excess weight around the midsection, also known as visceral fat.
Studies have shown that this type of fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, ultimately increasing the risk of prediabetes blooming into type 2 diabetes.
One study of more than 1,000 people with prediabetes found that for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of weight participants lost, their risk of diabetes reduced by 16%, up to a maximum reduction of 96%.
Making changes to your diet and lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that losing 7% percent of your body weight—15 pounds for people who weigh 200 pounds – can lower your risk of prediabetes developing into type 2 diabetes.
How can you cure prediabetes with diet?
Through a combination of a healthy diet and regular physical activity, a diagnosis of prediabetes can be reversed.
This was shown in a study by The Diabetes Prevention Program, which examined the effect of weight loss and increased exercise on the development of type 2 diabetes, among prediabetic participants.
In the group assigned to weight loss and exercise, there were 58 percent fewer cases of diabetes after almost three years than in the group assigned to usual care. What’s more, even after the program had ended, results continued, and the risk of developing diabetes was reduced over a period of 10 years.
How can a poor diet turn prediabetes into diabetes?
As discussed, being overweight is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and certain foods, high in fat, sugar, and calories contribute to weight gain.
High glycemic carbohydrates, such as pastries, cakes, white bread, and white rice should be avoided, as they can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
In China, for example, where white rice is a staple, the Shanghai Women’s Health Study found that women whose diets had the highest glycemic index had a 21 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to women whose diets had the lowest glycemic index.
Another food group that raises your risk of diabetes is sugar.
This may seem like an obvious one, but sugar is in everything we eat, and it is not always transparent. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, high blood glucose, and insulin resistance.
The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 22 grams of sugar per day, for adult men, it is 36 grams daily, and for children, it is 12 grams a day. Yet, the average American consumes 17 teaspoons (71.14 grams) every day.
Growing evidence indicates that red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meat can increase the risk of diabetes.
A meta-analysis combined findings from the Nurses Health Study 1 and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They found that eating just one daily 3-ounce serving of red meat, increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent.
Safety and effectiveness of a prediabetic diet
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it unless tested. If untreated, prediabetes can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
People with prediabetes are currently advised to reduce their calorie intake and increase their physical activity, and substantial research backs this up. The Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group has published several studies showing that Type 2 diabetes may be preventable by diet and exercise.
For example, a study published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, compared the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions to standard care on minimizing the progression of prediabetes to diabetes or reducing all-cause mortality in diabetes.
This meta-analysis study identified 9 randomized, controlled trials with prediabetic patients who were at risk of diabetes and 11 randomized, controlled trials with patients who had diabetes.
Seven of the 9 studies looking at patients who were at risk of diabetes reported that lifestyle interventions decreased the risk of diabetes up to 10 years after a lifestyle intervention.
How effective is a prediabetic diet at maintaining general health?
A diet designed to treat prediabetes is basically a healthy diet, which helps to keep your blood sugar, insulin levels, and weight in check.
As a result, aside from reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it will also reduce your risk of other diseases.
In the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, Advisory Committee reported that a diet “that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods, is more health promoting.”
Natural ways to treat prediabetes
- Portion control– Controlling portion size can be difficult, but awareness of portion size is vital for prediabetes. Ensure you are loading your plate with the right amount of each food group. Sites such as MyPlate can help with this.
- Reduce sugar intake– Swap sweets for fruit- It is easy to make your 3 pm chocolate bar a habit, but this daily treat adds up. Try swapping sugary treats for fruit, such as berries. To bulk it up, you can add plain greek yogurt, which is a good source of protein.
- Limit alcohol/ smoking– Both alcohol consumption and smoking can increase your risk of diabetes. In fact, smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.
- Exercise– Research shows that physical activity can promote weight loss, reduce body fat, and improves insulin sensitivity.
What are the best supplements for prediabetes?
Studies have found that magnesium supplements may be beneficial in offsetting the risk of diabetes for those at high risk.
A study published in Diabetes Care found that compared with those with the lowest magnesium intake, those with the highest intake had a 37% lower metabolic impairment and a 32% lower risk of diabetes.
Cinnamon is a great spice when it comes to managing blood sugar levels. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of cinnamon supplementation on people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome was carried out for 16 weeks.
The participants were encouraged to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Half the participants were received 6 grams of cinnamon, and the rest were given 6 grams of a placebo.
There was a reduction in HbA1c and fasting blood sugar in the cinnamon group compared to placebo by week 16. There was also a greater reduction in waist circumference and BMI compared to placebo.
Berberine is the main active component of an ancient Chinese herb, which has been used to treat diabetes for thousands of years.
Studies have shown that it helps to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as lowering blood sugar levels.
In one study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 116 diabetic patients, were administered 1 gram of berberine per day. The results showed that this lowered fasting blood sugar by 20%, from 7.0 to 5.6 mmol/L (126 to 101 mg/dL), or from diabetic to normal levels.
Chromium is a trace element, meaning that the body requires extremely small amounts. Studies have found it helps the body to maintain a safe blood sugar level by boosting the signaling activity of insulin once insulin binds to cells.
This signaling activity helps move glucose from the blood into the cells, thereby lowering the amount of sugar in the blood.
A meta-analysis, published in 2017, which looked at 28 studies, concluded that chromium supplementation reduced fasting glucose and A1C levels, plus improving triglycerides and HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Ginseng is a powerful herb revered for its medicinal benefits., Among those are its ability to suppress appetite and boost metabolism. This is of particular benefit if you are trying to lose weight.
A human study conducted at Northumbria University in the U.K. found that Panax ginseng caused a reduction in blood glucose levels one hour after consumption when ingested with glucose.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders found that fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1C levels were significantly lower in the group that took CoQ10 supplements. Studies have also found that CoQ10 can help to lower high blood pressure.
Preventing prediabetes from transgressing into type 2 diabetes is possible. It just takes the determination and commitment to make changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Implementing a healthy routine will not only prevent you from developing diabetes but will also reduce your risk of developing other diseases.