Although we have a substantial knowledge of how to treat all types of diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one million new cases of diabetes type 2 are diagnosed each year.
So, what is wrong? Why all these new cases are taking place if we know how prevent prediabetic symptoms from becoming full-blown diabetes? Several reasons.
Reason # 1: Prediabetic symptoms are not taken seriously
By the time your doctor tells you that you have diabetes, you may have had it for several years in the form of prediabetes. People with prediabetes may also have metabolic syndrome, characterized by excess weight in the abdominal area, high blood pressure, and abnormal levels of blood lipids (LDL cholesterol and triglycerides), all of which happen to be risk factors for heart disease.
The good news is that people with prediabetes and metabolic syndrome can take steps to prevent the development of full-blown diabetes. The bad news, however, is that the medical establishment is not advising prediabetics aggressively enough on how to take the necessary measures to prevent diabetes, even though there are guidelines that have been proven to reduce the progression of the disease.
The best approach to dealing with prediabetes is to change your lifestyle by increasing physical activity and reducing the amount of food you eat and by making changes in some of the foods you eat. We know this approach works because the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has conducted several studies that showed that diet and exercise significantly reduced the chances that people with prediabetes develop diabetes type 2.
Reason # 2: Recommended guidelines are not met
Unfortunately, many doctors ignore their patient’s prediabetes symptoms most of the time. Here is a typical case. Mary was about thirty pounds overweight for many years. She has been taking high blood pressure medication for about 15 years and never did any type of exercise. She also had a fasting blood glucose level of 110mg/dl a year prior to her being diagnosed with diabetes type 2.
This reading made her prediabetic and at high risk of becoming diabetic. Even so, Mary was never advised by her doctor to take care of this condition aggressively to prevent developing diabetes.
As expected, Mary was finally diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but not even then she was advised on a plan to minimize her chances of complications. She was told by her doctor to check her blood glucose every three to four hours, to exercise several times a week, and not to eat sugar. No other changes needed according to her physician.
Chances are that if Mary continues with this “program”, she will not be able to control her blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The condition will progress until the complications may be quite severe, that will force Mary and her doctor to seriously consider implementing the lifestyle changes that should have been implemented at the beginning of the condition.
The sad part of this story is that there may be too many people like Mary who keep on living a lifestyle that promotes diabetes complications rather than reducing or eliminating the complications of diabetes.
Reason # 3: Doctors are not monitoring lifestyle changes to stop the disease
Most doctors have accepted the idea that it is impossible for patients to change their lifestyle over a long-term period of time and they may have through in the towel before time. They seemed to have reached this conclusion based on research that shows that patients are unsuccessful at maintaining lifestyle modifications over time. Unfortunately, this seems to be true.
One of the reasons why patients are not very successful at keeping changes in their diets and physical activity could be that they don’t have to account to their doctors about the changes they make or don’t make.
On the other hand, because doctors have at their disposal a vast array of drugs and devices, including glucose monitoring systems, they don’t feel the necessity to enforce those lifestyle changes since blood glucose can be “controlled” through medication.
Without a doubt, diabetes is a serious condition. It is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and prediabetes is on the rise. Having prediabetes increases your chances of developing the full-blown illness during your lifetime. Fortunately, making changes in your diet and increasing your physical activity can lower your odds and prevent the progression to diabetes. Here are the two most important steps you can take to prevent diabetes:
- Because nutrition is the best way to prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes, talk to your doctor and insist that he/she refers you to a Registered Dietitian. A registered dietitian will guide you on how to implement nutrition guidelines that will help you reverse prediabetes.Keep in mind that with the right changes in lifestyle, prediabetes can be reversed.
- Another part of a plan to reverse prediabetes is to increase your physical activity. You don’t need to run a marathon, but 30 minutes of briskly walking most days of the week will do wonders to help with your goal of preventing diabetes. Moderate exercise helps your cells become more effective to utilize blood sugar.Losing just 5 percent of your body weight with increased physical activity will postpone the progression to diabetes. You may want to read this article where I talk about how I include walking as exercise in my daily routine.
For any prediabetes or diabetes plan to succeed, you have to stick to it. Make sure you keep in touch with your diabetes management team, doctor and registered dietitian. Form relationships with other people who have the same condition. Through the Internet you can participate in diabetes forums and get the support of many people who are also struggling with the disease.
Prediabetes is reversible; don’t ignore it because if you do, the next step will be taking medication, and medication has always side effects. You can avoid this if you implement good eating habits and you stay physically active. Prove doctors that they are wrong in their assumptions! I know you can do it!