When Pre-Diabetes Comes Knocking: How to Answer
Has your doctor told you that you have impaired fasting glucose? That means that the glucose level in your blood, after you haven’t eaten for at least eight hours, is still higher than 100 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood. In other words, your blood is too sweet because your insulin is not clearing the sugar out of your blood very well. You have pre-diabetes.
What’s the difference between pre-diabetes and full-blown diabetes? It’s one milligram per deciliter: the difference between 125 and 126 milligrams per deciliter. If your blood contains 126 milligrams of glucose per deciliter, you have diabetes. By that time, so much sugar is sitting in your blood that it is causing serious damage.
There’s another test you may have taken, called the glucose tolerance test. If you’ve been told that you have impaired glucose tolerance, it means that two hours after you drank a glass of glucose-containing liquid, your glucose blood level was still between 140 and 200 milligrams per deciliter. Your insulin did not remove the sugar from your blood quickly enough, so you have pre-diabetes. What’s the difference between pre-diabetes and diabetes on this test? Again, one milligram per deciliter: the difference between 200 and 201 milligrams of glucose per deciliter.
So what do you do, now that you have pre-diabetes? Well, first and foremost, don’t do nothing. It’s highly likely that if you have pre-diabetes and you don’t do anything, you’ll end up with diabetes. It’s a matter, after all, of only one milligram per deciliter.
Actually, what you need to do is pretty simple to say, though not quite as simple to do. Guidelines developed by a panel of experts were published in the March 2007 Diabetes Care. The panel’s seven-page statement boils down to the following:
- Lose five to ten percent of your body weight, for starters. That’s not all that much: if you weight 160 pounds, it’s about eight to sixteen pounds.
- Make time for moderate physical activity, like walking, at least thirty minutes a day.
- Talk to your doctor about starting a medication called metformin, in addition to the above changes.
A prior study found that just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, produced a 58% reduction in diabetes.
Diabetes is becoming an epidemic, and it causes devastating physical damage if uncontrolled. Now’s your chance to get a jump on it and stave it off while you can. The changes that make all the difference aren’t complicated; they just take determination and the conviction that your health is worth it. Talk to your doctor. Get together with friends and form a walking group. Join a weight loss group. Do it alone or together, but just do it. There are tons of resources on the web: you might start with http://www.ndep.nih.gov/diabetes/pubs/GP_Booklet.pdf, which has lots of tips on how to get going.
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