Lowering Your Risk of Diabetes: The Prediabetes Challenge & Opportunity - Episode 17

Did you know that 1 in 3 American Adults, an alarming 96 million people, have prediabetes? Prediabetes often goes unnoticed due to its lack of overt symptoms. Prediabetes is characterized by blood sugar levels that are higher than the normal range but don't quite reach diabetes status. Recognizing the risk factors and clues, such as being overweight, inactivity, family history, and persistent fatigue, can help you or someone you care about get back on the path to a long and healthy life. 

Lifestyle changes can make a big difference

A recent study by BMJ highlights that women who've had a temporary form of diabetes during pregnancy can lower their risk of later developing the disease by 90% by adhering to five key lifestyle factors: healthy weight, high-quality diet, regular physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and not smoking.

A 2022 study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that women who take more steps each day may have a lower risk of developing diabetes. Researchers analyzed diabetes rates along with data from wearable fitness devices from 5,677 people (75% women). Participants whose daily step counts averaged 10,700 at the study's start were 44% less likely to develop diabetes over the following four years compared with those who averaged only 6,000 steps per day.

It’s not just about sugar

Some people believe eating sweets — or foods containing processed sugar — can give them diabetes. But it's not that simple, says Emma Samuels Grinblatas, a registered dietitian.

Glucose is an energy source our body needs to function properly. While you should definitely check food labels for sugar content, Grinblatas believes it's equally important to monitor carbohydrate consumption — which can also cause blood glucose to rise — if you're concerned about diabetes. A low-carbohydrate diet may quickly improve elevated A1c levels, according to a recent study analyzing older adults with untreated prediabetes or less-severe diabetes.

"Many of my patients work hard to reduce their sugar intake but still have a very high carb load," she says. "If you're having a bagel or breakfast bar in the morning, try having an egg, unsweetened yogurt, or old-fashioned oatmeal and put in some fruit or chopped nuts. A nice balance of carbs, healthy fats, and protein slows down digestion and helps people feel full."

Understanding the early signs and risk factors of prediabetes is essential in curbing blood sugar levels and preventing progression to full-blown diabetes. Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and potential medical interventions like metformin, play a significant role in managing prediabetes and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications. As always, consult with your team of healthcare professionals to develop a plan that works best for your specific needs.


Salamon, M. (2023). Prediabetes: A window of opportunity. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/prediabetes-a-window-of-opportunity.

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