Dr. Mustafa Ahmed is our board-certified bariatric surgeon and diabetes management specialist with a busy medical practice, Southern Nevada Bariatrics, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dr. Ahmed has seen first-hand the numerous health complications associated with diabetes during his extensive medical career.
Here, Dr. Ahmed offers insight on gaining control of your health before prediabetes moves into full-blown diabetes.
Understanding prediabetes and the second chance it offers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 88 million American adults are prediabetic, and most have no idea they’re at risk for developing diabetes. Prediabetes is characterized by higher-than-normal fasting blood sugar levels (100-125) that haven’t yet reached the level of Type 2 diabetes (125 or higher).
More than numbers on a chart, however, prediabetes is your body’s warning signal that it’s time to take steps to prevent the heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, loss of sight, and other serious health effects of Type 2 diabetes and persistently high blood sugar levels.
Identify your risks
While signs and symptoms of prediabetes are subtle, there are some risk factors that are easily spotted.
- Being overweight
- Family history of a parent, brother, or sister with Type 2 diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- History of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
Age also plays a role. Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes are most common in adults over 45, but both conditions are becoming more prevalent in teens and young adults.
Check your blood sugar
One of the first steps in diagnosing and managing prediabetes is checking your fasting blood sugar level. This test is often accomplished with just a drop of blood drawn via a fingerstick. Results are immediate and offer an accurate measure of what your blood sugar is at a specific point in time.
An A1C is another type of blood sugar check that offers a comprehensive view of your levels over two to three months. The A1C requires a single blood draw via the lab and results are typically received one to two days after your visit.
Both tests are vital to developing a diagnosis and treatment strategy for prediabetes and are also routine in managing diabetes.
Improve your odds
Treatment goals for prediabetes are to restore your routine blood sugar levels to normal before you develop Type 2 diabetes by:
Modifying your diet
The foods you eat and beverages you consume significantly impact your body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels naturally. It’s probably not a surprise that an effective diet for prediabetes includes leafy greens and other vegetables, fruits, legumes, healthy fats, and lean proteins but restricts your intake of sugary, high-carb foods and beverages.
Losing excess pounds
Weight loss is a key factor in preventing and treating diabetes. For some people, losing just 10 pounds can help bring blood sugar levels under control.
Adding physical activity to your daily routine
Exercise triggers your body’s use of surplus glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream, which it uses as fuel, and helps your metabolism maintain a steady, normal blood sugar level throughout your day.
You needn’t run a marathon to gain these benefits. A brisk, daily walk through the neighborhood and even household chores like vacuuming or mowing the lawn can help reduce blood sugar levels.
Fortunately, these three actions work together to accomplish prediabetes treatment goals. Diet modifications and exercise, for instance, lead to weight loss. And losing those extra pounds makes physical activity more enjoyable and easier to sustain.
Ask for help
Most of us would gladly forgo a slice of chocolate cake for the nutritional benefits offered by a bowl of fruit when faced with the health consequences of diabetes. We’re also likely to agree that a brisk walk five days a week is preferable to the daily insulin injections sometimes necessary to control diabetes.
Despite our best intentions, however, changes in diet and other lifestyle habits can be difficult to maintain without help. A diabetes management specialist offers the support you need to overcome the many challenges associated with reversing the effects of prediabetes.
Dr. Ahmed can, for instance, develop a customized, medically supervised weight-loss plan that keeps you motivated by offering quick results as you learn to manage the intense cravings often associated with abnormal blood sugar levels. For significant weight loss, he may also discuss the benefits of bariatric surgery.
If you’re at risk for prediabetes, change your future by scheduling a visit with Dr. Ahmed at Southern Nevada Bariatrics today.