Have you ever been told your blood sugar was “a little high” or “borderline”, or that you are a “pre-diabetic”? What does this mean and what do you need to do about it? Pre-diabetes means that your blood sugar is above normal but not high enough to meet the cut-off for diabetes.
Diabetes (type 2) is a disease characterized by high blood sugar and the body’s inability or resistance to insulin which is the hormone that allows the cell of your body to use sugar for energy. Diabetes causes blindness, kidney failure, damage to nerves, heart attacks and strokes. People with diabetes and pre-diabetes have increased risk for depression, cancer, and dementia.
How do you know if you have “pre-diabetes” or diabetes?
Normal fasting blood sugar (glucose) is reported between 60-100 (ideal reading is between 60-85). Pre-diabetes is defined as fasting blood sugar between 100-126. Diabetes is repeated fasting blood sugar above 126.
The best test for blood sugar is the Hemoglobin A1C which indicates the average blood sugar over a 3 month time period. An A1C below 5.7 is normal and 5.7-6.5 is in the “pre-diabetes” range. If you have an A1C over 6.5 , you have diabetes (even if you don’t take medication). Usually medications are recommended if you can’t get your A1C below 7.0 with diet and exercise.
The epidemic of diabetes and pre-diabetes is largely caused by lifestyle choices: a diet high in processed foods (which are filled with flour and sugar) and/or lack of exercise, inadequate sleep and stress. It is a common misconception that diabetes is only associated with candy and other sweets; however, there are many non-sweet foods that are just as bad if not worse for your blood sugar. The ONLY treatment that addresses the root cause of the problem is change in lifestyle, especially what you put in your mouth.
Worst foods (anything high sugar, flour and/or starch): this includes bread (even “whole grain”), bagels, crackers, pretzels, white potatoes (sweet potatoes are ok), white rice, cookies, candy, ice cream, frozen yogurt, flavored yogurt (such as Yoplait), all cereals & breakfast bars, sodas (regular AND diet), flavored water, smoothies.
Not so good food (high sugar): tropical fruits (pineapples, bananas, figs, mangoes), fruits juices, and dried fruits.
Best foods (low in sugar/starch and high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber): Vegetables especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach, red onion, tomatoes; fruits such as berries, grapefruit, and apples; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans) and seeds (flaxseed, sesame, pumpkin seeds); beans (black and kidney); whole grains such as quinoa, oats, brown rice; oily fish such as salmon; plain yogurt (add your own fruit and nuts); green tea.
Other changes that are just as important: 1) Move more – walk, bike, swim, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther from the store, take your dog for a much-needed walk, put a treadmill or stationary bike in front of the TV; 2) get at least 7 hours of sleep; and 3) take time to relax.