Do you know what your blood sugar levels are? Did you ask your doctor what they were at your last physical? It is estimated that more than half of people with high blood sugar and prediabetes don’t even know they have it. Read more to find out about high blood sugar, prediabetes and where to access health information and nutritionists in Westchester County and Fairfield County to keep it under control.
The majority of the more than 34 million Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Another 88 million adults have prediabetes, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In a random crowd of 100 adults, more than 35 people have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and most of them don’t know they have the disorder.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is also referred to as impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. Prediabetes occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. If left untreated and blood sugar values continue to be high or climb higher, prediabetes may develop into more serious Type 2 diabetes. Having high blood sugar or Type 2 diabetes puts you at risk for developing long-term damaging effects to your body such as blindness, damage to nerves and kidneys, and circulatory system problems. See Today's Dietitian Chart below to see the tests for high blood sugar and what levels pre-diabetes is diagnosed.
What is Insulin and How Is It
Related to Blood Sugar?
Insulin is made by your pancreas and helps blood sugar enter the body's cells so it can be used for energy. With pre-diabetes, your pancreas may produce less insulin or your cells may become less sensitive to the insulin, or a combination of both. Insulin also signals the liver to store extra blood sugar for later use. When Insulin sends the blood sugar into the cells, the levels in the bloodstream should decrease, signaling insulin to decrease too.
Fortunately for most of us, making changes in our lifestyle — managing food choices and increasing physical activity — can help return blood glucose levels to normal.
What Are the Risk Factors?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a direct cause for prediabetes has not been determined, but excess body fat, especially in the abdomen, and inactivity are two key factors. There are few symptoms associated with the onset of prediabetes.
You are at higher risk if:
- You are 45 years old or older and have an overweight body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adults; or
- You are younger than 45 years old and have an overweight BMI with a history of inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or have a family member with diabetes.
What are the Warning Signs of Diabetes?
The onset of type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, happens very quickly. The following symptoms may appear suddenly and are too severe to overlook. In Type 2 Diabetes, similar symptoms appear much more slowly which leads people to believe they are attributed to other factors such as aging, stress and hot weather.
•Rapid and unexplained weight loss
•Extreme weakness or fatigue
•Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
•Unpleasant breath odor
The CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program has helped many people make healthy lifestyle changes to reverse prediabetes and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Consider finding a program near you. Everyone with prediabetes can slow the disease progression by following these strategies:
- Exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Start by walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Aim for a small amount of weight loss, if necessary (5 to 7% of your current body weight).
- Eat a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods and calcium-rich foods.
- Work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to help you make lasting healthy habits.
A Healthy Meal Plan
Following a balanced diet and eating meals at consistent times can help with blood glucose control. Sugar comes primarily from the foods that we eat, specifically carbohydrates ...and it’s not just sweets. While all carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels, they also play an important role in your overall health by providing essential energy for your body. You do not need to cut carbohydrates out of your diet, but be judicious about the foods you select.
When putting together a meal plan, include a variety of the following foods:
- Grains – whole-grain pasta, breads and cereals, and brown rice
- Vegetables – spinach, romaine, tomatoes and other colorful vegetables
- Protein – lean meat, chicken, fish, lentils, beans, tofu and tempeh
- Dairy – low-fat or fat-free yogurt, low-fat or fat-free milk, and fortified soy milk
- Fats – avocado, walnuts, olive oil
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you create a customized plan that takes into consideration your food preferences, age, sex, activity level and medical diagnoses.
Best Diets Reviewed 1. Mediterranean
It's generally accepted that the people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.
The Mediterranean diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.
2. Dash Diet
The DASH diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to do exactly that: stop (or prevent) hypertension, aka high blood pressure. It emphasizes the foods you've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), which are high in blood pressure-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber.
DASH also discourages foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. Following DASH also means capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, which followers will eventually lower to about 1,500 milligrams. DASH diet is balanced and can be followed long term.
Flexitarian is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in her 2009 book "The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life."
Blatner says you don't have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still enjoy a burger or steak when the urge hits. By eating more plants and less meat, it’s suggested that people who follow the diet will not only lose weight but can improve their overall health, lowering their rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live longer as a result.
Where to find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Westchester County and Fairfield County