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Published: March, 2016; Vol 12, Num 10

 

A Wake-up Call to Get Serious about Your Health

Here’s a very good reason why it is essential to go for annual medical checkups: prediabetes. One in three U.S. adults has this symptomless condition that can progress to type 2 diabetes within five years. But even before that, prediabetes on its own increases risk for heart disease and stroke.

Fortunately there are steps that people with prediabetes can take to reduce their risk for these conditions. For most people, losing weight, eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity can make a big difference in slowing the progression of and sometimes even preventing these chronic illnesses.

What Is Prediabetes?

People with prediabetes have elevated blood glucose or sugar levels that are not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. A normal blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL after not eating or drinking for at least eight hours. It’s also less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating or drinking. (Water is okay to drink. Anything else will affect the test.)

Get Your Blood Sugar Back into a Healthy Range

The Dash Eating Plan, which focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean meats can help you lose weight, reduce risk for and sometimes reverse prediabetes.

Increasing physical activity is also very important. Three brisk ten-minute walks a day is a great place to start and can make a lasting difference.

Prediabetes is confirmed with the A1c test, which shows a person’s average blood glucose levels over the past three months. For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4 percent and 5.6 percent. A1c levels between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent indicate an increased risk for diabetes and 6.5 percent and higher indicate diabetes.

How Likely Are You to Have Prediabetes?

Do any of these indicators describe you? If so, you may have prediabetes:

  • Overweight
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Physically active fewer than three times per week
  • You had gestational diabetes while pregnant or gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds
  • 45 years of age or older

Type 2 Diabetes: A Devastating Condition of Epidemic Proportion

Type 2 diabetes afflicts more than 34 million people in the United States and Canada, many of whom are unaware.

Like prediabetes, type 2 diabetes often has no symptoms for years. Long-term however, it can cause:

  • Heart disease
  • Vision loss
  • Kidney failure
  • Reduced blood supply to toes, feet and legs leading to amputations
  • Nerve damage
  • Erectile dysfunction

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help you learn your risk for prediabetes with this online quiz and with this Prediabetes Screening Test. If you score 9 or higher, get tested promptly by your health care provider.

Resources for Those with Prediabetes

Losing weight and keeping it off and routinely getting more exercise can be difficult to accomplish on your own. The National Diabetes Prevention Program, which provides a trained lifestyle coach either in the community or online, can help. Participants learn how to eat nutritiously, incorporate physical activities into daily life and better manage stress and other problems that can derail efforts to improve health. Many insurance companies will cover the cost of this program.

The LHSFNA has a number of materials that can help Laborers improve their dietary and exercise habits and reduce their risk for prediabetes. These include the Nutrition & Fitness for Laborers training manual and pamphlets and Build a Better Body pamphlet. Click here to order.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]