How can I prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes?

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Parveen K. Verma, DO
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
You may be able to prevent the progression of prediabetes to diabetes by simple lifestyle changes. With lifestyle changes people with prediabetes can either delay or prevent the onset of overt diabetes.

People with risk factors can lower carbohydrate intake, the starchy foods in the diet, and increasing activity. Studies support the benefits of 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week for delaying progression to overt diabetes in a predisposed population by almost 60 percent. Lifestyle modification is so important. It's something that people can take ownership of and participate in to reduce their risk.

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Even if you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, you can still prevent the onset of diabetes. In this video, internist Marc Lavin, MD from West Hills Hospital & Medical Center explains how.
Prediabetes puts you at risk for diabetes and other serious problems -- you need to act now to protect your health. If you have prediabetes, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting diabetes by following this action plan:
  • Become more physically active every day. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Lose weight. Aim for a modest weight loss -- say, between 5% and 7% of your total weight -- at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
  • Make healthy food choices. Aim for a low-fat, high-nutrient diet. Choose vegetables, fruits and whole grains -- and watch your portions.
  • See your doctor regularly. Aim for a visit every six months to have your blood retested and to check your overall health.
  • Stop smoking if you do smoke. Or at the very least, start cutting back on the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day.
  • Get a referral to see a dietitian or diabetes educator, or join a weight-loss class or other health program.
  • Last but not least, keep a diary of your progress with all the items in your action plan. It will serve as a great motivator.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
If you've been diagnosed with prediabetes, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is high. However, you may be able to prevent diabetes by taking these simple steps. Watch as I explain.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), studies show that those with prediabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can either prevent diabetes by having their blood glucose levels return to normal, or at least, delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. AND also recommends meeting with a registered dietitian for dietary guidance in both managing and preventing diabetes. You can find a local registered dietitian at: www.eatright.org

Since diet and lifestyle are so important, here are 5 key recommendations from the AND to fight diabetes and prediabetes with a knife and fork:

  1. Lose Some Excess Weight. Research suggests that even a modest weight loss (approximately 5-7% of your body weight) can reduce the cell’s resistance to insulin so that glucose will be taken up by the cells, and thus, improve blood glucose levels.
  2. Move at Least 2½ Hours Weekly. Physical activity has been shown to improve the cells' sensitivity to insulin and lower blood glucose levels.
  3. Choose Your Carbohydrates Wisely. A well-balanced diet that contains carbohydrate-rich foods including fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy, along with some lean protein and healthy oils, is the diet of choice in the fight against diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke. Cut back on the calories from the less nutritious, carbohydrate-rich sweets and treats to lose weight.
  4. Beef Up the Fiber In Your Diet. According to research, dietary fiber, as well as whole grains, has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity, or the use of insulin by the cells. While the current recommendation is to consume about 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, Americans, on average, are consuming about 15 grams daily. Choose whole grains (whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn) over refined grains and beef up the whole fruits and vegetables in your diet. 
  5. Watch the Alcohol. While some studies suggest that moderate enjoyment of alcohol, one to three drinks daily, is associated with a decreased risk of diabetes, more than three drinks daily will increase the risk.

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Jim White
Nutrition & Dietetics
To prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes it is most important to adopt an exercise regimen. 3-5 times week for at least 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular aerobic training with a program that gradually increases in intensity. Also incorporate strength training 2-3 times a week to stay well rounded. In addition, see a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist to adjust your diet will help you get on track. Your diet should consist of low- fats, low- sodium, as well as whole grains. 
Lynn Grieger
Nutrition & Dietetics

It's great that you're focusing on preventing diabetes! There's good research that shows a combination of balanced eating, regular exercise/physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight can help keep blood glucose levels in the normal range. While we can't prevent developing diabetes 100%, we certainly can delay developing this chronic disease.

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
Good food/meal planning, increased physical activity and weight loss (if you are over weight) can prevent the progression of prediabetes to diabetes. Research has shown that just a 5-10% of weight loss has shown a significant improvement. A Registered Dietitian (RD) especially one who specializes in Diabetes can assist you toward your nutritional goals. To locate a Registered Dietitian in your area visit www.eatright.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.