Even if you have not been told that you have prediabetes, you could be worried about it, since 90% of the people with prediabetes are unaware that they have it. You are at higher risk if you are over 45 years old, do not get much exercise, have a family history of diabetes, or are African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander.
The first step is to eliminate all sugar and refined starches from your diet. Sugar has no nutritional value and can therefore be eliminated. Starches are simply long chains of sugars. Highly refined starches such as flour or white rice are quickly broken down by digestion into glucose. This is quickly absorbed into the blood and raises blood sugar. For example, eating white bread increases blood sugars very quickly.
Traditional lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites all contain milk, and may have added sweeteners if you get a flavor. Caffeinated drinks that have no carbohydrates include Americanos, espressos, and just black coffee. Whether you prefer coffee beans or instant coffee powder doesn’t make a difference nutritionally, however taste, freshness, and caffeine content may vary.
Low-carbohydrate diets have gotten a lot of attention recently as strategies for reversing prediabetes. The carbohydrates in your diet that provide calories include sugars and starches. Starches are in grains and flour, beans, and starchy vegetables. Added sugars include sugars in sweets, sweetened foods such as flavored oatmeal and ketchup, and sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda. There are also natural sugars, which are found in nutritious foods such as dairy products and fruit.
“High glycemic index foods are going to be primarily processed foods,” says Lori Chong, RD, CDE, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Those processed foods tend to have more white sugar and flour in them, which are higher on the GI, she says. Foods lower on the GI include vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens and whole-grain products, such as brown rice (as opposed to white rice), Chong says. She notes that even many fruits are low on the GI, with pineapple and dried fruit being some of the highest (Berries, apples, and pears tend to be fairly low.)
As a renal dietitian my focus can’t be solely on diabetes. Although a very large percentage of our patients with chronic kidney disease are here due to unmanaged blood sugar control, that is just one of our problems. I have to prioritize my counseling in other ways – the most important being control of potassium, then sodium (fluid), protein and phosphorus.
In reality, when people in a study followed the Paleolithic diet, it turned out the diet was lower in total energy, energy density, carbohydrates, dietary glycemic load, fiber, saturated fatty acids, and calcium; but higher in unsaturated fatty acids (good fats), dietary cholesterol, and several vitamins and minerals. Research also demonstrates that people with diabetes are less hungry, have more stable blood sugar, and feel better with lower carbohydrate diets.
Combining the Nurses’ Health Study results with those from seven other studies found a similar link between sugary beverage consumption and type 2 diabetes: For every additional 12-ounce serving of sugary beverage that people drank each day, their risk of type 2 diabetes rose 25 percent. (27) Studies also suggest that fruit drinks— Kool Aid, fortified fruit drinks, or juices—are not the healthy choice that food advertisements often portray them to be: Women in the Black Women’s Health study who drank two or more servings of fruit drinks a day had a 31 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to women who drank less than one serving a month. (28)
If you are at risk for diabetes or insulin resistance, be sure to get an annual testing for fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c. If you see these rising over time, this is a sign that your body is having more trouble processing sugar. Your healthcare provider can provide further recommendations for medication and lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes.
There’s more troubling news. The pre-cursors of Type 2 diabetes – pre-diabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome – increase our risk of heart disease almost as much as Type 2 diabetes does. These pre-cursors are so widespread in 21st century America that scientists now estimate that the majority of the current U.S. population over the age of 65 has them. And they put people at dangerously high risk of developing full-blown Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and dying prematurely.
Our Shopping List for Diabetics is based on the Pritikin Eating Plan, regarded worldwide as among the healthiest diets on earth. The Pritikin Program has been documented in more than 100 studies in peer-reviewed medical journals to prevent and control many of our nation’s leading killers – heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, and obesity as well as type 2 diabetes.
The Life! program is a Victorian lifestyle modification program that helps you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Run by expert health professionals, the program is delivered as a Group Course or a Telephone Health Coaching service. Funded by the Victorian Government and managed by Diabetes Victoria it is the biggest prevention program of its type in Australia.
Thiazolidinediones. Like metformin, these medications — including rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos) — make the body's tissues more sensitive to insulin. These drugs have been linked to weight gain and other more-serious side effects, such as an increased risk of heart failure and anemia. Because of these risks, these medications generally aren't first-choice treatments.
Sugar and processed carbohydrates should be limited, says Massey. That includes soda, candy, and other packaged or processed snacks, such as corn chips, potato chips, and the like. And while artificial sweeteners like those found in diet sodas won’t necessarily spike your blood sugar in the same way as sugar, they could still have an effect on your blood sugar and even alter your body’s insulin response, though more research is needed to confirm this.
If you choose to drink alcohol, remember: To drink with your meal or snack (not on an empty stomach!), to drink slowly or dilute with water or diet soda, that liqueurs, sweet wines and dessert wines have a lot of sugar, to wear your Medic Alert (Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia/low blood glucose), reducing alcohol can promote weight loss and help you lower your blood pressure.