PREVENTION WITH PREDIABETES
Imagine you’re standing outside of a rehearsal hall, preparing for your role in a play. Slowly, one by one, your castmates join you, all lining up next to you by the doors to the hall. It is almost time for the play to begin, but the doors still have yet to open because your casting director forgot to unlock them.
This is what diabetes is like. When you eat, your body breaks down your food into smaller and smaller bits until only glucose molecules are left. When the glucose enters your blood, your body signals for your pancreas to release insulin so your body can use it for energy.
Sometimes, your body isn’t able to use the food you eat for energy for your body. Diabetes affects your body’s ability to release or use insulin, meaning the glucose molecules from your lunch or dinner stay in your blood instead of getting used for energy. In Type II Diabetes, your glucose are the actors for the play, and insulin is the casting director who forgot to open the doors to the rehearsal hall, causing all of your glucose to gather in your bloodstream.
When you’ve got prediabetes, your blood glucose is high, but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. It’s like having extras attempting to get onto the stage to do their part, and when they cannot get to the stage either, the production slows down. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 88 million Americans have prediabetes and are not aware of it because the main actors are still playing their role properly. 
So how do you know what to look for? Common signs and symptoms that set the stage for Type 2 Diabetes include being overweight, 45 years or older, and having a family member with type 2 diabetes. 
The good news? It’s preventable.
Check your blood sugar regularly.
A great indicator to see if your body is using insulin and glucose effectively is your blood sugar levels. A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal, but a regular value of 100 to 125 mg/dL often indicates you have prediabetes. A level higher than 126 mg/dL usually indicates Type II Diabetes.
Testing your A1c levels is also a good indicator of your body’s blood glucose control. A1c measures average blood sugar levels over the span of a couple of months. An A1c level below 5.7% is normal, and a level between 5.7% and 6.4% can indicate prediabetes. A level higher than 6.5% usually indicates Type II Diabetes as well. 
Lower your risk of Type II Diabetes:
- Watch Your Weight: Being overweight increases your risk of developing type II diabetes, as well as high cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. 
- Determine Your Diet:
- Pick whole grains over refined grains. Consuming more whole grains over processed grains has been shown to improve glycemic control in adults with Type II Diabetes. 
- Add more fiber. Fiber has the potential to slow glucose absorption in your body, preventing blood sugar spikes. Fiber has also been shown to reduce risk of type II diabetes, so consider adding fruits, vegetables, and even healthy cereals as part of your diet! 
- Steer clear of sugary beverages. A great way to avoid blood sugar spikes is skipping sugar sweetened beverages like sodas and swapping them out with coffee, tea, or water. Can’t go the day without a soda? Give diet soda a try!
- Move Your Muscles: Physical activity can control your blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, reduce blood pressure, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week. 
Making lifestyle changes can slow your risk of developing type II diabetes. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables and physical activity are great starting points to get you on track to put on the best show of your life.
For those that just need that extra push, check out the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. This year long program covers topics such as nutrition, physical activity, stress, and more. Our program is tailored to make long lasting impacts to better your health.
Written By: Ramya Srikanth, YMCA Healthy Lifestyles Coach