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Predicting diabetes: The diagnosis that puts you at risk

Sally Brozek, a dietician and certified diabetes educator at Piedmont Hospital, shares with us about prediabetes, a condition that puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and lifestyle factors that can prevent diabetes.

According to Brozek, a dietician and certified diabetes educator at Piedmont Hospital, there are 26 million people with diabetes in the United States. “Even more significantly, there are more than 79 million people with prediabetes,” she explains.

“Prediabetes is where your doctor has determined through lab work that your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not quite diagnostic to be diabetes.” She calls prediabetes a “danger zone – you are one step away from developing diabetes.”

Preventing Diabetes

While prediabetes is a serious diagnosis, it does not guarantee you will become diabetic – in fact, you may even be able to prevent the disease. “While there is no way of knowing who exactly will develop type 2 diabetes, we know that through lifestyle modifications you can do a lot to prevent this disease,” says Brozek.

In fact, “a large study done many years ago showed that through lifestyle modifications, you can prevent diabetes up to 58 percent.”

Making Positive Lifestyle Changes

Exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, mainly because becoming active can help you lose weight if you are overweight or obese. “As you lose weight, you become more sensitive to the insulin your body is making,” she explains. “This helps lower blood glucoses.”

In addition to physical activity, diet plays an important role in preventing diabetes, especially if you are prediabetic. “The big problem is, people overeat,” says Brozek. “We have got to find ways to cut our calories.” One of her favorite tips? Use a smaller plate at meal time. “Visually, it will look like there is a lot more food on your plate,” she says.

She also recommends looking at food labels to prevent overeating. “What I find in my work is many people never look at food labels,” says Brozek. “They take a box and just start eating.” When reading a food label, she recommends focusing on serving size to help with portion control because many people do not realize how many calories they are actually consuming.

Getting help for diabetes

If you are prediabetic or diabetic, there are resources available to you. “We have a wonderful center at Piedmont that is recognized by the American Diabetes Association,” she says. “We offer a variety of classes or individual consultations, an eight-week diabetes prevention program, as well as a support group.”

We all know diabetes is a serious illness, but luckily, there are many ways to prevent it. If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, use the lifestyle tools Sally mentioned to improve your diet and exercise routine. You can prevent diabetes from developing, so take your diagnosis as an opportunity to make healthy lifestyle changes.

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