When the blood sugar levels of an individual are elevated higher than average but not elevated high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes, the condition is called prediabetes. Many physicians and medical journals call this condition impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Whatever name you give it, somewhere between 35 and 54 million Americans in the United States have prediabetes with the number growing every year.
If you have prediabetes or IFG, you have higher than normal odds of eventually getting diabetes. In fact, it is often a pre-cursor to diabetes as a person nearly always has prediabetes before he gets diabetes. A person with prediabetes is also more prone to developing heart disease and strokes. The good news, however, is that if you have prediabetes and you begin life style changes involving better eating habits and more exercise, you have a good chance of staving off diabetes.
Prediabetes means that the cells in your body are slowly becoming insulin resistant. The body needs insulin to convert sugar, starches, and other foods into glucose that the body can use. But without insulin, the body is unable to process the sugar. The sugar has nowhere to go and accumulates in the bloodstream resulting in high blood sugar levels. If the blood sugar level is constantly elevated, odds are that diabetes is present.
The majority of people with prediabetes have no idea that they have it. Because it has no signs, prediabetes has to be tested for. The test simple. It involves measuring the percentage of glucose in the bloodstream. The blood glucose level is tested both before and after eating. A person with normal levels of blood glucose will have results of lower than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). A 100-126 mg/dl level of glucose before eating and a 140-199 mg/dl level of glucose after eating, is a sign of prediabetes.
Statistically, certain nationalities such as African American, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Inuit, and Native Americans, are at higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes than others. Weight is another risk factor. If you are overweight, you have an increased risk of prediabetes. Other risk factors are family history, high blood pressure, and high levels of triglycerides. Older people are also more likely to develop the disease. If you are near or over the age of 50, you should request that your doctor or health care specialist give you a blood glucose level test. Testing allows those at risk to be identified early enough for something to be done before its too late.
Approximately one out of every four people with prediabetes progresses to diabetes within three to five years. Many of the rest advance to diabetes within ten years. And yet, it’s not inevitable that prediabetes will lead to diabetes. With early intervention and by following an alternative treatment for diabetes you can prevent prediabetes from escalating to full blown diabetes. Many times simple life style changes such as losing weight, eating less processed foods, eating more high glycemic foods, and starting a minimal exercise program are all that is needed to stop the disease from progressing.