Prediabetes is a condition that can enter your life without you even knowing about it. Prediabetes means that your blood glucose level is higher than normal but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. To be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you need to have a fasting plasma glucose level of 7.0 mmol/L (millimoles/liter) or higher. Normal fasting plasma glucose levels are in the range of 3.9-5.6 mmol/L. Prediabetes falls somewhere between 5.6 and 7.0 mmol/L.
Prediabetes can creep up on you if you have high blood pressure, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, or if you’re overweight. Other than these obvious risk factors, there are some other things that increase your likelihood of becoming prediabetic. Simply being over the age of 40 is one factor. Some populations such as Aboriginals, Hispanics, Asians, South Asians, and those of African descent are more at risk of becoming prediabetic. If you have heart disease you’re at a greater risk for prediabetes and also if you have a history of gestational diabetes.
Doctors often recommend that you get screened for prediabetes by having your fasting plasma glucose checked periodically. The good news about prediabetes is that you can take steps to manage the condition and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Make sure you get at least a half hour of physical activity every day and follow a healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats.
If avoiding full blown diabetes is not enough motivation to get screened for prediabetes, consider the results of a recent trial. Dr. Scott Turner, a neurologist from Georgetown University, conducted a study to see if resveratrol might change glucose levels in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
What Dr. Turner found was that an astonishing number of the participants had prediabetes. At the outset of the study, participants were first given a fasting glucose tolerance test to obtain a baseline level. They were then retested two hours after eating a meal. During digestion, your blood sugar levels will naturally rise. Your pancreas steps in at this point, however, and produces insulin to lower your blood sugar levels to a more normal range. If you still have a high blood sugar reading two hours after eating, you’re showing signs of glucose intolerance and prediabetes. If blood sugar levels are very high, you have diabetes.
None of the participants in the study seemed to be aware they were prediabetic, despite being under the regular care of a doctor. In fact, out of the 125 people who completed the study, 38 showed signs of glucose intolerance and 16 had blood sugar levels consistent with a diagnosis of diabetes.
The research team thinks prediabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are very much linked. They aren’t sure at this point whether glucose intolerance leads to Alzheimer’s or if it happens the other way around. One thing they are convinced about is that everyone with early Alzheimer’s should be tested for prediabetes.
The researchers hope that by improving glucose tolerance, you might be able to not only delay the onset of diabetes, but also Alzheimer’s. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting screened for prediabetes.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
“Managing Your Blood Glucose,” The Canadian Diabetes Association web site; http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/living/management/manage-glucose/, last accessed July 25, 2013.
“Undiagnosed Pre-Diabetes Highly Prevalent in Early Alzheimer’s Disease Study,” Science Daily web site, July 14, 2013; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130714160840.htm, last accessed July 25, 2013.
“Alzheimer’s Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: What Is the Link?” Alzheimer’s Association web site; http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_diabetes.pdf, last accessed July 25, 2013.