Prediabetes

Blood sugar issues and prediabetes have exploded over the last few decades.  There is no end in sight for the diabetes epidemic, as rates are expected to double in the next 20 years.  To stop this from happening it will take real change.  The body is equipped to reverse this trend, we just need to supply the tools it needs to make this change.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is when the body starts to show signs that it is not able to properly regulate blood sugar levels.  Prediabetes is defined as having an impaired fasting glucose (fasting blood sugar of 100-125mg/dl) and an impaired glucose tolerance (blood sugar of 140-199mg/dl 2 hours after a 75g oral glucose solution).  Those with prediabetes are at a higher risk for being diagnosed with diabetes.  A number of other health indicators are commonly seen in cases of prediabetes such as: elevated blood pressure, low HDL(good) cholesterol and polycystic ovary syndrome.

What causes Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a complex issue but there are some simple things about blood sugar that may shed light on this issue.  After each meal the body works hard to keep blood sugar levels within a certain range.  There are a number of factors that affect how the body handles blood sugar at mealtime.  Foods that spike blood sugar levels make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.  These foods are typically called high glycemic foods.  The amount of food we eat can also have negative effects on blood sugar balance.  Another factor that plays a part in sugar balance is muscle mass and tone.  Daily inactivity can lead to loss of muscle tone and mass.  This can cause a decrease in metabolism, or the bodies ability to burn sugar.

One of the main ways our bodies regulate blood sugar is by the release of insulin from the pancreas.  Insulin helps sugar enter the various cells of the body, which is the main way sugar leaves the blood stream.  As most cells take in all the sugar they need, they will tend to be less sensitive to the action of insulin.  The sugar is then directed to fat cells for storage.  Over time fat cells can become less sensitive to the effects of insulin.  As the cells and storage areas of the body begin to be less responsive to blood sugar, insulin resistance can result.  Insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes.  Damage to the pancreas or insufficient insulin secretion can also lead to prediabetes.

Genetics can also play a role in prediabetes.  Family history and ethnicity can make someone more susceptible to having blood sugar problems.  Having a parent or sibling who has diabetes can increase the risk of prediabetes.  Certain ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are at a higher risk for prediabetes.