Prediabetes refers to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Almost 6 million Canadians have prediabetes.
If left unmanaged, prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes—but it doesn't have to be this way. If you have prediabetes, taking steps to manage your blood sugar can change your future to one free of type 2 diabetes.
Understanding type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot make enough insulin, or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body to control the level of sugar in your blood.
If your body can't use its insulin properly, glucose (sugar) builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy. This excess sugar in your blood causes problems and can lead to serious health complications.
It's important take a prediabetes diagnosis seriously because some long-term complications associated with diabetes—such as heart disease—may begin during prediabetes.
Preventing type 2 diabetes
The good news is that more than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed! Taking steps now to improve your lifestyle can make a huge difference and lead to a healthier future.
If you've been diagnosed with prediabetes, reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by:
- following a healthy diet (see Canada's Food Guide)
- exercising regularly (start slowly and increase to 150 minutes per week)
- losing weight (losing five to 10 per cent of your total weight is all you need to make a huge difference)
Every effort counts
Making healthy changes will take some time, and that's okay. It's best to start with small changes instead of trying to change everything all at once.
If you haven't been physically active, start with a 10 minute walk three times a week. It's also good to choose new activities and foods that you'll enjoy.
Look for ways to make your meals healthier by adding more vegetables to your plate, cooking meals at home more often, choosing whole grain foods, drinking water instead of soda or juice and being mindful of portion sizes.
Get the support you need
Diabetes Canada is here to help provide information and support so that you can live a healthy life. Talk to your health-care team about support and services available in your community, such as:
- prediabetes education or diabetes prevention program
- weight-loss program
- registered dietitian
- exercise specialist
Your family and friends can be a great support too. Eating better and being more physically active is good for everyone. Set realistic goals and keep going. Even if you slip back to your previous habits it is never too late to start again.
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