Prediabetes: Symptoms, Causes, and Natural Treatments

By , Category : Alternative Remedies

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PrediabetesIt is no secret that diabetes is a major health problem in the U.S. In fact, about 10% of the population has diabetes. That being said, prediabetes is just as bad of an issue, and it affects another 20% of Americans. Over 100 million Americans suffer from diabetes or prediabetes.

Prediabetes is a wake-up call or warning to make serious lifestyle changes, otherwise you will get diabetes. Prediabetes symptoms may go unnoticed, but if your blood sugar levels are no longer normal, this is first sign. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention National Diabetes Statistics Report, 37% of American adults over 20 years old, and 51% of people over 65 will exhibit prediabetes symptoms. What is even more shocking, is that the International Diabetes Federation projects prediabetes incidences to jump to 471 million people worldwide by 2035.

If you have prediabetes and don’t make lifestyle changes, type 2 diabetes can develop within 10 years. Luckily, something can be done. Research published in The Permanente Journal in 2014 shows that lifestyle changes may lower the amount of prediabetic patients that develop diabetes from 37% to 20%.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is not a new condition. It is, however, a new name for a disorder that doctors have known about for a while now. A prediabetes diagnosis helps explain that a person is in danger of eventually developing diabetes.

Prediabetes is where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be labeled type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may also refer to prediabetes by other names. Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is what they call higher-than-normal blood sugar after a meal. Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) is high-than-normal blood sugar in the morning before eating.

Prediabetes will have a fasting glucose of 100 to 125 mg/dL. Fasting plasma glucose is a test that checks fasting blood glucose levels where you refrain from eating or drinking for a minimum of eight hours. An oral glucose tolerance test is a two-hour test that checks blood glucose levels before, and two hours after you consume a certain sweet drink. It will explain how the body processes glucose, and prediabetics produce a postprandial glucose of 140 to 199 mg/dL.

Prediabetes is also considered the first step in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body cannot efficiently use insulin, which leads to sugar buildup in the blood. An A1C test is also used to measure your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. Prediabetes is diagnosed between 5.7% and 6.4%, where diabetes has an A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5%.

Symptoms and Signs of Prediabetes

Although prediabetes has no clear symptoms or signs in general, there are indicators associated with prediabetes. For example, some prediabetes symptoms are similar to diabetes, and will include frequent urination, feeling very thirsty, fatigue, and blurry vision. Some people may also experience conditions linked with insulin resistance, like polycystic ovarian syndrome and acanthosis nigricans. The latter is where there is darkened skin on certain parts of the body like the knees, elbows, knuckles, armpits, and neck. Evidence shows that acanthosis nigricans may also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Some prediabetics will also experience reactive hypoglycemia two to three hours after eating a meal. Hypoglycemia is also known as low blood sugar, and it is one of the more common prediabetes symptoms. Hypoglycemia symptoms will include becoming hungry, pale, and confused. It will also cause feeling lightheaded or dizzy, feeling shaky or jitter, sweating, and feeling tired or sleepy. Various studies have also linked a higher risk of chronic kidney disease with prediabetes. As a result, chronic kidney disease screening is suggested for people to help with prediabetes treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors of Prediabetes

What are prediabetes causes? Prediabetics have problems processing glucose properly. As a result, sugar will build up in the bloodstream, instead of fueling the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues. Most of the body’s glucose comes from eating food, especially simple carbs and sugary foods. During the digestion process, the sugar from the foods will enter the bloodstream.

The insulin hormone will help sugar enter the body’s cells where it is used for energy. Insulin is responsible for decreasing sugar in the bloodstream. When blood sugar drops, so does insulin secretion from the pancreas. This process gets interrupted in prediabetics, and sugar cannot be used to fuel cells. Instead, sugar will build up in the bloodstream because the pancreas don’t make enough insulin, or your cells may become insulin-resistant.

There are also a number of risk factors for prediabetes. They include the following:

1. Age

The risk of prediabetes increases the older you get. People over 45 are at greater risk.

2. Gender

Women develop diabetes 50% more than men do.

3. Ethnicity

Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans all have a greater risk.

4. Inactivity

The less active you are will increase the chances of prediabetes, and exercise helps ensure the body uses glucose as energy.

5. Weight

Overweight people with a body mass index above 25 have a risk of prediabetes. More fatty tissue around the abdomen will lead to insulin resistance.

6. High Cholesterol

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol below 35 mg/dL, or triglyceride levels above 250 ml/dL increases the risk of prediabetes.

7. Family History

If your parents or siblings have diabetes, your chances of developing diabetes will increase.

8. Sleep

Studies link obstructive sleep apnea to a higher risk of insulin resistance, and interrupted sleep throughout the night. Also, those people working night shifts are at risk of prediabetes.

9. Gestational Diabetes

A history of gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby more than nine pounds increases the risk of prediabetes. A previous gestational diabetes diagnosis heightens the risk of type 2 diabetes by 60%.

High blood pressure is another risk factor.

6 Natural Treatments of Prediabetes

For conventional treatment of diabetes and prediabetes, metformin has been used to control blood sugar levels. However, common metformin side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach. When people understand that it is an issue, making lifestyle changes is a more natural way to treat prediabetes, and will decrease the risk of diabetes developing. Here are a few prediabetes natural treatments to consider.

1. Follow a diabetic diet

A permanent diet change is absolutely necessary for people with higher than normal blood sugar levels. A low-glycemic diet will raise blood sugar levels slowly and control insulin resistance. Meals for those with prediabetes should be high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

The best high-protein foods include free-range organic eggs, grass-fed beef, and wild salmon. Good high-fiber foods include Brussels sprouts, berries, figs, acorn squash, beans, quinoa, and flaxseeds. Quality fiber foods will support detoxification and help you control blood sugar levels.

Healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, and chia seeds will benefit blood sugar levels and effectively treat symptoms. A diabetic diet will also exclude sugar and have a decreased carb intake. Refined sugar like fruit juice and soda will increase blood sugar levels. As an alternative, use raw honey or stevia liquid in moderation.

2. Exercise

Many studies link lifestyle interventions in reducing the risk of 40% to 70% in prediabetic adults. Lifestyle interventions that focus on weight loss, like increasing physical activity, can significantly reduce diabetes risk. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001 found that increasing physical activity reduces diabetes risk by 58%. People with this precondition should exercise at least four hours per week. Walking after meals is very effective to maintain good blood sugar levels.

3. Magnesium

Prediabetes natural remedies also include magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is one of the top nutrient deficiencies among adults. A magnesium deficiency can lead to other risk factors for symptoms, including hypertension and sleeping issues. Magnesium is also involved with the production and utilization of insulin. A study published in Diabetes Care in 2014 found that magnesium supplementation helps reduce the risk of diabetes, compared with people with low magnesium intake. Good magnesium sources also include avocados, nuts, seeds, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.

4. Chromium

Chromium improves glucose intolerance and balances blood sugar. It also prevents insulin resistance, regulates body composition, decreases appetite and carb cravings, and helps you maintain proper lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Chromium deficiency also interferes with carbohydrate metabolism. This increases the risk of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

5. Coenzyme Q10

The antioxidant coenzyme Q10 is often low in diabetics, and it can help protect against factors in the development of diabetes, like oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation. A study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders in 2014 found that CoQ10 supplements significantly lowers hemoglobin A1C and fasting plasma glucose levels.

6. Cinnamon

Cinnamon extract improves insulin utilization and sensitivity. It is a high source of polyphenolics, which have been proven to be effective on insulin signaling and blood glucose levels. Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2011 found that consuming either cinnamon extract or whole cinnamon results in statistically lower fasting blood sugar levels.

If you don’t get treated, type 2 diabetes may not be the only future problem. For instance, other health problems include skin infections, eye damage, kidney damage, nerve damage, stroke and heart disease, foot damage, skin infections, Alzheimer’s disease, and trouble hearing.

Overall, lifestyle interventions significantly help reduce your risk of prediabetes. These life changes include eating a healthy diet high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, while getting at least four hours of exercise per week. Other supplements that help diabetics and prediabetics include ginseng, berberine, gymnema sylvestre, turmeric, alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, biotin, pycnogenol, B-complex vitamins, adrenal extract, pancreas extract, garlic, fenugreek, and ginkgo biloba.



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Jon Yaneff is a holistic nutritionist and health researcher with a background in journalism. After years of a hectic on-the-go, fast food-oriented lifestyle as a sports reporter, Jon knew his life needed a change. He began interviewing influential people in the health and wellness industry and incorporating beneficial health and wellness information into his own life. Jon’s passion for his health led him to the certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) program at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. He graduated with first... Read Full Bio »