Prediabetes is a real concern for many people across the globe. Since being diagnosed at the prediabetic stage a few years ago, I have made many changes to my diet. My mission is to help as many people as humanly possible to avoid type 2 diabetes. In the following piece, I expound on 5 foods to avoid for prediabetics.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes refers to the stage before diabetes, which is recognized by slightly higher blood sugar levels than usual. The individuals diagnosed with prediabetes are likely to become type-2 diabetic by the next 10 years.
However, it is quite difficult to assert that a person is prediabetic unless the blood sugar level is checked because prediabetes doesn’t have any symptoms or signs at the beginning. In some people, the symptoms of prediabetes are found.
An increased thirst, excess hunger, blurred vision, frequent urination, and fatigue are some common symptoms that can make you aware that you have perhaps become diabetic from your prediabetes stage.
What Causes Prediabetes?
The main cause leading to prediabetes is unknown. However, just like diabetes, the main reasons could be genetics and a family history of diabetes.
Some other important factors leading to prediabetes could be excess body weight, especially around the abdomen, and a significant lack of daily physical activity.
The primary bodily function that leads to prediabetes is that the sugar doesn’t get processed properly in the body and hence, builds up quite fast in the blood rather than providing energy to the cells for the formation of tissues and muscles.
Sugar mainly comes from the foods we eat and hence, we should be aware of certain foods that are high in sugar. As sugar enters our body and gets digested, it enters our bloodstream.
Now, sugar moves from the bloodstream to our body cells because of a hormone named insulin, which comes from the pancreas, a gland that’s located behind our stomach. When we eat sugar-rich foods, the pancreas sends sugar to our bloodstream.
Hence, insulin is responsible for reducing sugar in our blood and a lack of it can lead to diabetes and prediabetes. When you are prediabetic, your pancreas slows down the proper secretion of insulin and therefore, the entire process gets interrupted. Finally, rather than improving your cells, sugar ends up building in your bloodstream, which is extremely unhealthy.
Is Prediabetes Serious?
Yes, prediabetes is one of the serious health concerns. That’s because individuals with prediabetes have a higher level of blood sugar than what is normal but lower than what is known as diabetes. Prediabetes is the main reason for people developing diabetes and other health issues such as stroke and heart attack.
For all these reasons, prediabetes should be given utmost concern from the very first day you are diagnosed with it. Here are some factors that people with prediabetes have in common. In case you have one or more of these conditions, you should do a blood sugar test as soon as possible.
- If you are above 45 years of age
- If you are overweight
- In case you have a parent, sibling, or another family member with type 2 diabetes
- If you are physically inactive or active for less than 5 times a week
- If you have type 1 or gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- In case your baby was less than 9 pounds at the time of birth
Some other factors making prediabetes a serious concern are race and ethnicity. African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latino Americans have a higher tendency of becoming prediabetic than others. In case you are prediabetic, it’s essential to visit a doctor and follow a proper diet to make sure you don’t become diabetic.
What Should I do If I am Prediabetic?
The first thing that you need to do is visit your doctor or a diabetes specialist. You must know that living with diabetes is way more difficult than prediabetes.
Health problems and the risk of living become more evident in the diabetic phase and hence, you need to take the right preventive steps. Prediabetes is also known as borderline diabetes and if you are diagnosed with it, here are the things that you need to ensure:
- Get a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test Done: It is the initial step to know whether you are prediabetic. If you consult your doctor, the doctor will recommend you this test. It is a specific blood test that requires you to fast for 8 hours and then analyze the glucose levels in your blood. Here are the most probable results:
- If the glucose level is less than 100 milligrams for each deciliter, the report is normal.
- If the glucose level is 100 to 125 mg for each deciliter, the result is prediabetes.
- The result is diabetes if the glucose level is 126 mg for each deciliter.
- Get an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test Done: After the fasting blood test, the next blood test is the oral glucose tolerance test. You need to eat something sugary after getting your fasting test done. This test is usually done two hours after the fasting test. Here are the most probable results:
- If the report shows that the glucose level is less than 140 mg for each deciliter, it means your glucose level is normal.
- If the report shows that the glucose level is 140 to 199 mg for each deciliter, it means that your glucose level is prediabetic.
- You are diabetic if the report shows that the glucose level is 200 mg for each deciliter.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Losing weight is important if you are prediabetic. Hence, you need to follow a healthy diet that comprises high protein, low carbs, and low fats. If you manage to lose 5-10 percent of your body weight, it can make a huge difference in improving your health condition.
- Exercise on a Daily Basis: Inactivity is one of the main reasons for diabetes and hence, you need to start exercising on a daily basis. You can start with a 10 minutes session and then gradually try to prolong the session. Walking, jogging, running, muscle stretching, strength training, and yoga are some good exercises for beginners who want to lose weight.
- Quit Smoking: You need to quit smoking as soon as you are diagnosed with prediabetes. That’s because it can help you to reduce your blood sugar and blood pressure levels to some extent and thereby, help you to improve your health.
- Get your Blood Pressure Under Control: Heart health is directly related to blood pressure and cholesterol levels. When you are diagnosed with prediabetes, keeping your blood pressure under control will help you to improve your overall health.
- Get your Cholesterol Level Under Control: People with prediabetes have a tendency to increase their cholesterol levels. Diabetic dyslipidemia is a condition where people with diabetes also have a higher level of bad cholesterol. To avoid this condition, you need to start taking precautions from your prediabetic stage.
- Take Medication: Your doctor might prescribe you some medicines that you need to take on a daily basis.
Can Prediabetes be Cured?
Yes, prediabetes can be cured if you change your lifestyle and eating habits. You can slow down the process of prediabetes turning into diabetes or prevent prediabetes completely from an early stage. All you need to know is which foods you should eat and which ones you should avoid.
The following amazing video provides detailed steps to take on how to stop prediabetes going into diabetes:
5 Foods to Avoid for Prediabetes
Now, I’m going to tell you all about the 5 foods that you need to totally avoid in your prediabetic stage. These foods are quite common and if you happen to be a sweet tooth like me, you might face some difficulties while quitting them. But no worries as you can find plenty of alternatives to satiate your cravings. So, without any further ado, let me explain which foods you need to restrict yourself from and why:
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Did you know that a 12-ounce sweetened drink such as cola can provide you with about 38.5 grams of carbs? That’s the main reason why you should avoid sweetened drinks completely. Moreover, these drinks contain fructose in a high amount, which can lead to diabetes and insulin resistance. A high fructose level means metabolic changes and weight gain as well.
Studies show that certain diabetes-related diseases like fatty liver disease also develop from the consumption of sweetened beverages.
- White Bread, Pasta and Rice
Refined flour foods and rice contain carbohydrates in a high amount, which can lead to type 1 and 2 diabetes in many people. Moreover, most of these foods are low in fiber. This is a totally unhealthy combination for people with prediabetes or diabetes because it can significantly grow the blood sugar level.
Hence, you need to avoid these foods and replace them with high fiber and low carbs foods so that your blood sugar level decreases gradually.
- Fruit-flavored Yogurt
Plain yogurts are recommended for people with prediabetes and diabetes whereas fruit-flavored ones are never good options. The flavored yogurts are usually prepared from low-fat or fatless milk to which loads of sugar and carbs are added.
Some diabetic people think that frozen yogurt can be a good alternative to ice creams, which is a completely wrong notion. These yogurts contain exactly the same amount of sugar as ice creams.
- Sweetened Breakfast Cereals
If you have prediabetes, eating cereals in the morning is the worst thing to do. Rich in carbs, these foods are also low in protein. Hence, to keep your sugar levels in control, you can replace your breakfast cereals with boiled eggs and some other options that are high in protein and low in carbs.
- Flavored Coffee Drinks
Though coffee is a good beverage option for those with prediabetes, flavored coffee drinks aren’t. Many doctors call these drinks liquid desserts instead of coffee and you might be able to guess the reason. These drinks are loaded with sugar and carbs, which can affect your health hugely.
Now that you know which foods you should completely avoid if you are prediabetic, go ahead and make the most of it. However, before coming to any conclusion, you can consider consulting your doctor once and getting your sugar levels checked. Also, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising along with a proper diet are some essential tasks that you need to ensure if you want to get the best results.