If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, it means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for you to be considered diabetic. Diabetes is diagnosed by taking a reading of an individual’s blood sugar levels using one of three tests: fasting, random or 3-month average blood sugar. An individual without diabetes has a fasting blood sugar level below 100, a random blood sugar level below 140 and a 3-month average blood sugar level, known as the A1C, below 5.7%. An individual is diagnosed with diabetes if their fasting blood sugar level is above 126, their random blood sugar level is above 200 or their A1C is above 6.4%. When a person has blood sugar levels that fall in between the normal and diabetes ranges, they are considered to have prediabetes.
Risk factors that may lead to prediabetes and diabetes include:
- Age – risk increases after the age of 45.
- Body Mass Index (BMI) above 25.
- Race and ethnicity.
- Family history.
You may also be at risk if you are below the age of 45 but have other risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a BMI above 25. Most people with prediabetes don’t experience any symptoms and the only way to know they have it is through a blood test. Annual appointments with your primary care provider are important because they can advise you when a blood test may be beneficial and help you make any necessary lifestyle changes.
Unlike type 2 diabetes, prediabetes can be reversible. By detecting prediabetes early and adopting the proper lifestyle modifications, a diabetes diagnosis can be postponed or prevented. Regular exercise and adopting healthy eating habits can help normalize your blood sugar levels over time. Moderate exercise, like walking or water activities for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, is ideal. When it comes to healthy eating, patients should try to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and calcium-rich foods.
Individuals who are diagnosed with prediabetes should talk to their doctor about getting a referral to nutrition and diabetes education services to develop a preventive plan customized to their health condition and personal needs. Cone Health’s Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services have exceptional teams of registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators dedicated to educating and treating patients throughout the community with prediabetes and diabetes.
Donetta Floyd, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services. She received her Bachelor of Science in chemistry from North Carolina A&T State University. She completed her Bachelor of Science and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in family and consumer sciences with a nutrition and dietetics specialization at North Carolina Central University.