- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Tips for Prediabetes
What is Your Blood Glucose Level?
My guess is that unless you are actually a diabetic already, very few of you would know if your blood glucose levels are normal or not. The trouble is that there are many potential diabetic sufferers around, who will only find out when they visit a doctor and have the correct blood tests undertaken.
There are a growing number of people suffering with prediabetes which is just as it sounds - those with a blood glucose level that is at the high end of normal. This means that they have the potential to become diabetic but can take action with their diet and lifestyle to reduce the chances, and keep their glucose level within a good range. These people are known as 'borderline' diabetics.
How Long Have You Been Pre-Diabetic?
Finding Out You Are Prediabetic
It can be a bit of s shock, to say the least, when you find out that you are potentially a diabetic. Once that word 'borderline' has been spoken, there is a tendency to automatically assume the worst. Diabetes? Losing toes or limbs? Greater chance of heart disease or stroke? Many of us know the complications of diabetes, but when it's not happening to us we tend to turn a blind eye. The fact is that once you know your blood glucose levels are raised to higher than normal levels, you can take action, but you might find an air of nonchalance from physicians and even dieticians. You are not diabetic...yet! I hope the following information may be of use to you in your quest to tackle this threat head on.
What is Prediabetes?
Wholegrains and Prediabetes
Dietary Advice for Prediabetes
I found out I was prediabetic a year ago. The only reason I found out was that I had been fatigued for weeks and my doctor ran some routine blood tests. I found it alarming but my doctor didn't seem to be very concerned. He just said I would be tested again in another year. He said I had better be careful with what I ate from now on, and that, it appeared, was the end of it for a year.
I saw a different doctor the next time I had to go to the surgery, and asked what I was supposed to be eating in order to lessen my chances of full blown diabetes. He casually said that I was to eat healthily. That meant lots of fruit and veg, and to swop all white carbohydrates like bread, pasta, or rice for wholemeal varieties. He didn't tell me that some fruits were not so good for glucose problems, or that vegetables that grow above ground are the best kind. Wholegrain pasta for example still shot my blood glucose level up too. I had to find out these things for myself.
I didn't get the choice of seeing a diabetic nurse or a dietician so the good old internet had to help me out. Generally speaking in the UK, and if you look at guidelines on the Diabetes UK website, you will learn that a healthy balanced diet is usually advised. If you don't look further than those words of advice, your picture of a healthy balanced diet may not be correct! The fact is that refined carbohydrates will make your blood glucose levels rise quite quickly. Carbohydrates with more fibre and a low GI (glycaemic index), will still make your blood glucose rise, but a little slower and so reduce the sudden spike. Well that's the theory.
I needed to learn more if I was to keep diabetes at bay for as long as possible, so I did some research on the internet. I found a UK based forum and started to ask questions, not from professionals, but from those who are actually experiencing prediabetes, and diabetes.
So, What Can I Eat for Prediabetes?
It all got a bit confusing to be honest. I found out that in Sweden, studies have shown that a low carbohydrate, high fat diet (LCHF), has a great effect on reducing cholesterol and lowering blood glucose levels, See here. Indeed, on the forum I joined, many members were having great success with it.
So, it seemed I had two choices. I could go the G.I way and just eat low G.I foods, leaving out all sugars obviously, or go the LCHF route. I didn't trust those words 'a healthy balanced diet'. I actually decided to do a bit of both! I changed my low fat margarine for butter and stopped eating my low fat yoghurts. Instead I bought full fat yoghurt. I even use cream from time to time. Other than that, I eat low G.I foods and generally cut down on my carb intake, supplementing each meal with a dose of protein and of course some good old fashioned fat.
The LCHF diet is extremely good for losing weight too, but something I didn't need to do so had to be careful.
Full Fat Foods and Diabetes?
I know what you are thinking. We have been led to believe for years that high fat is very bad for us. In good proportions with a low carb diet, it has now been proved to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. The LCHF for beginners is a good place to start. It is certainly helping to keep my blood sugar down.
How to Test Your Blood Glucose
Monitoring Blood Glucose
I was advised by people on the forum to buy a blood glucose meter. This way I could test my fasting blood sugar in the morning and see what my baseline blood glucose was. I could also test before eating, and two hours after eating to see how a certain food affected my blood glucose level.
It's somewhat of a slow process, but this way you can work out what foods affect you the most. I learned that it isn't sufficient to test foods once, but a few times to get a clearer picture. If I got a surprising result with one food, I would have it again the following week just to make sure the result was legitimate. I kept a notebook and wrote every single result down. It really is a case of working out what foods your body doesn't like.
How Some Blood Glucose Meters Differ
Other Tips for Prediabetes
Obviously if you are overweight, it makes sense to lose some of that excess weight. Being overweight is closely linked to diabetes, though there are exceptions to the rule. I was actually slightly underweight when I was diagnosed with prediabetes. Exercise is great for helping to bring blood glucose levels down as well as helping you to lose weight. It's a good thing to do even if you are not overweight, but don't suddenly overdo it. A short walk every day for a few minutes is better than nothing. Slowly build up the exercise if it's something you are not used to.
You could of course, get yourself some good low carb, low G.I and/or a LCHF recipe books to get you in the mood for change. You would be surprised what you can eat!
Blood glucose meters can be bought in most chemists though they tend to be a bit more expensive in high street stores. Check out Amazon or eBay first, and don't forget you will have to buy extra testing strips.
Individual circumstances may vary, so always seek the advice of a physician before embarking on any diet. The above is not a substitute for medical advice and is based on my own personal experience and research.