November is Diabetes Awareness Month – a time when people around the world team up to bring attention to diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes has become one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century.
With over 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes, wouldn’t it be nice if the human body had an “early alert system”? Prediabetes is just that. It offers a warning signal and gives us a chance to change the future.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes refers to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Although not everyone with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, many people will. It’s important to know if you have prediabetes, because it has been shown that some long-term complications associated with diabetes – such as heart disease – may begin during prediabetes.
Research shows that if you take steps to manage your blood sugar when you have prediabetes, you can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Here are five lifestyle changes you can make to help reverse prediabetes:
Eat a healthy diet
A major risk factor for prediabetes is a diet high in processed foods, which have added fats, calories, and sugar without nutritional value. Eating a “clean” diet, which consists of healthier choices, can help restore normal blood sugar levels. Examples include fruits with complex carbohydrates, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and healthy fats, like avocado and fish.
Lack of physical activity is another risk factor for prediabetes. Exercise is not only great for energy and mental health, it can also lower your blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity. This allows the cells in your body to use insulin more efficiently. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), exercise can reduce blood sugar for up to 24 hours after a workout. Ideally, you’ll want to include 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week.
Drink more water
Drinking water is another excellent way to help prevent type 2 diabetes. When you don’t drink enough water, you become dehydrated, which causes the glucose in your blood to become more concentrated. Water helps control blood glucose levels, and it’s also a healthy substitute for sodas and fruit juices – which are typically high in sugar. The Institute of Medicine recommends adult men drink about 13 cups (3.08 liters) of water per day and women drink about 9 cups (2.13 liters).
Learn the Glycemic Index (GI)
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale out of 100 that ranks a carbohydrate-containing food or drink by how much it raises your blood sugar levels after it has been consumed. Foods with a high GI increase blood sugar levels higher and faster than foods with a low GI. Diabetes Canada recommends people with type 1, type 2, or prediabetes choose lower glycemic index foods and drinks more often to help control blood sugar.
Get regular check-ups
Prediabetes can progress to type 2 diabetes. It’s important to monitor your symptoms and speak with a healthcare provider if you’re concerned about diabetes or if you notice any type 2 diabetes signs or symptoms. Ask your health care provider about blood sugar screening if you have any risk factors for diabetes.
Book your virtual doctor visit today
If you would like to speak with an Ontario doctor about your risk of developing diabetes or other healthcare needs, visit www.tuliphealth.ca. Tulip Health is a virtual, phone-based, walk-in clinic that provides non-emergency related healthcare. Tulip Health offers same-day or next-day appointments any day of the week. It’s easy to use and it’s covered by OHIP. To book an appointment, visit www.tuliphealth.ca.