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Can prediabetes be cured?

If your health care provider informs you that you have prediabetes, do not give up! There are lifestyle choices you can make that can help prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes and may even place you out of the prediabetes category. The most effective way to lower your blood sugar and stop insulin resistance is by losing weight. As little as 10 pounds or 5 percent of your body weight can make a huge difference in blood sugar control. Working on keeping a healthy and active lifestyle by exercising 30 minutes every day and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet are other ways to curb your diabetes risk.

Prediabetes can quite possibly be cured. Some people with prediabetes have postponed or completely avoided the onset of type 2 diabetes with these simple strategies:

  • Eating more healthfully.
  • Losing weight.
  • Exercising more.

Better yet, when these interventions are begun early enough, some people with prediabetes have pushed their high blood sugar back down to healthy levels—and kept it there.

 

The best way to fight prediabetes and get your blood sugar back in the normal range is with a coordinated plan of healthy nutrition, increased physical activity and lifestyle coping strategies that support modest weight loss if you are overweight. (Modest weight loss is defined as losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight.) Research shows that following such a plan not only reduces diabetes risk, but does it better than using medication. Improvements in glucose levels may be seen in as little as three months.

If you have prediabetes, you need to start making lifestyle changes quickly. There's a window of only about three to six years in which you can turn around elevated glucose levels.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Here are 5 key diet and lifestyle recommendations from the American Diabetes Association to reduce your risk of both diabetes and prediabetes:

  1. Lose some excess weight. Research suggests that even a modest weight loss (approximately 5 to 7percent 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.

Prediabetes can be cured. Losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight and getting at least 150 minutes per week of some physical activity can markedly increase the chances of reversing prediabetes! However, 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years if they make no lifestyle changes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are programs set in place designed to help people work against developing type 2 diabetes such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program. This program, like many diabetes prevention programs, covers topics designed to teach people how to eat healthy without having to change their entire diet, to add exercises they enjoy into their day, to deal with stress in a productive manner, to cope with barriers preventing them from reaching their goals and how to stay motivated throughout life’s up and downs.

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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.