Yes, there is a condition called pre-diabetes. And it is becoming an epidemic. The statistics are staggering.
According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2018, the estimated prevalence of prediabetes in India is 14 percent.
These are huge numbers and actually depict those who have been tested. Prediabetes is an asymptomatic disease, so many people do not realise that they have it, so the actual numbers might be much more.
While diabetes is a huge problem in itself, it is important to try and rein in pre-diabetics because by the time diabetes usually gets detected some damage to body organs like kidneys, eyes etc has already begun.
How Do You Know if You Are Pre-diabetic?
A pre-diabetic person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
There are two type of pre-diabetes:
Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) where the fasting plasma glucose is between 100 and 125 mg/dl.
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), which is diagnosed when the 2-hour post glucose value in the GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test) is between 141 mg/dl and 199 mg/dl.
(a value of 200 mg/dl and above is considered as diabetes, while a value below 140 mg/dl is normal).
Prevention is simple. The same factors which precipitate diabetes also precipitate pre-diabetes: genetic (hereditary) predisposition, obesity, physical inactivity, junk eating stress etc. Keep these in check.
Catch It in Time
Pre-diabetes is a wakeup call – one that needs to be caught in time and then reversed.
Catching it in time is very important as at this stage if caught in time it is possible to prevent the person from becoming a diabetic with right steps.
Unfortunately, pre-diabetes (and even diabetes at times) is often detected just by chance when a blood sugar test is done to test for specific complaints like organs complications, fatigue etc (like in the case of the above-mentioned doctor).
That is why regular screening is essential, as it is only on testing that one can be sure if the sugars are in normal range or not. If left unchecked, it usually takes about 5-10 years for a pre-diabetic to become a full-blown diabetic.
Lifestyle Management Is the Key
By diet changes, regular exercise and weight reduction, most people with pre-diabetes can prevent development of diabetes and even turn their blood sugar levels back to the normal range.
It is important for the pre-diabetics to maintain a normal BMI (basal metabolic index; that translates into right weight for their height) do regular exercise and make sure that the lipid profile and blood pressure are normal.
It is also important to work toward lowering blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol and boosting high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol.
Lose excess weight.
Maintaining a healthy body weight helps insulin work better in your body, and that keeps blood sugar stable and the risk of pre-diabetes (and thereon diabetes) low.
In fact, losing a modest amount of weight (5-10 percent of total body weight) through diet and moderate exercise, such as walking, 30-45 minutes a day, 5 days a week helps.
Target exercising for at least 30 minutes at least thrice a week.
Even unstructured exercise like gardening, walking the dog, doing chores.
Around the house help. Walking for 10-15 minutes after dinner has been found to be very helpful too
Change How You Eat
Even simple everyday food can go a long way to help keep the disorder away. The diet changes that work are - more fibre, less fat, cutting down red meat, having more vegetables and fruits, opting for whole grains, keeping alcohol in check.
Some smart tips are:
Begin your day with high power breakfast.
Research shows that those who have high-protein breakfasts maintain better glucose and insulin control than those who have lower-protein or no-protein meals. Eggs, sprouts, nuts and lean cuts of meat are good options to include in breakfast.
Keep a tight lid on sugar intake.
Both table sugar as well as that hidden surreptitiously in processed foods.
Reach for whole grains.
Instead of white refined grains opt for whole grains, which deliver complex carbohydrates that break down more slowly to release glucose in blood and also have extra fibre also slow down the glucose absorption. Try whole wheat, dalia, jowar, ragi, bajra, unpolished rice, amaranth.
Get omega 3.
It can help taper down inflammation, thus lowered the risk of diabetes. Oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, sardines, are rich dietary sources. Algae, sea weeds, walnuts, and flax seeds are the vegetarian sources.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)