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PreDiabetes; ProActive Health

November is National Diabetes month. Diabetes affects 26 million Americans, with 19 million people diagnosed and 7 million undiagnosed. Another 79 million adults have pre-diabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing the disease.

This November ask yourself if you are at risk for diabetes and what you can do to help lower your risk, including reading this helpful post from one of our Diabetes Educators.

By Kim Mendel, RD CDN

A visit to the doctor today may mean getting blood test results that reveal prediabetes, once called borderline diabetes. Prediabetes is having blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Many people usually have prediabetes before a diabetes diagnosis and are just unaware. They may or may not have symptoms. Prediabetes does not mean you will necessarily develop type 2 diabetes. About 25% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within 3 to 5 years (The Art and Science of Diabetes Self-Management 2011), therefore it is important for people to educate themselves on preventive measures.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with prediabetes are not only at risk for diabetes but also cardiovascular disease. Moderate weight loss of 5-10% of your body weight, along with changes or modifications to dietary intake to promote heart healthier eating, have been proven effective in reducing your risk of going from prediabetes to diabetes.

Physical activity should be discussed with your doctor to determine what is right for you but can be as simple as starting with 5 to 10 minutes a day of walking or light jogging or dancing with a goal to work your way up to 30 minutes 5 days per week. Even splitting up your activity into 10 minute intervals throughout the day has been proven effective and a great way to start out.

Healthy eating is a term that is widely used, but for most people it can be confusing or challenging. It doesn’t have to be and a good place to start is the plate method. This way of eating is where you draw imaginary lines on your plate: you fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean healthy cooked protein (like baked, grilled or broiled chicken, turkey or fish) and a quarter with starch or complex carbohydrate (like brown rice, lentils or sweet potato). This method is great for all family members because it is not a diet but a lifestyle and many of the foods that you normally eat can fit into the plate method. You may need to change your cooking methods and increase your vegetables but you eat regular foods just in healthier portions and cooked in a healthier way.

To learn more about the plate method visit myplate.gov or the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org) and speak with your health care provider about screening for prediabetes. Be proactive!

Kim Mendel is a Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program.

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