EDITORIAL: Seven tips to prevent prediabetes

Sometimes, we refer to people as made of sugar, spice and everything nice -- or so sweet that they might melt if it rains. But saccharine jokes aside, you may want to check your blood sugar.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes, and as many as 95% of those people suffer from type 2. The CDC also reports a rising trend in diabetes among young people, which could lead to a 700% spike in type 2 and a 65% increase in type 1 cases by 2060.

When your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes, as is the case with prediabetes, your body may become resistant to insulin or not produce enough of it.

Researchers don't understand what causes cells to become insulin resistant, but some risk factors include genetics, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity and physical inactivity. Some people, particularly those of Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American descent, are also at a higher risk of developing prediabetes.

People with prediabetes have up to a 50% chance of developing diabetes within 5 to 10 years. Prediabetes can also cause long-term damage to your blood vessels, nerves and organs, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease if left untreated.

The good news is that prediabetes can often be prevented or reversed through healthy lifestyle choices, such as:

Being tested -- More than 80% of people with prediabetes don't know they have it because they have no symptoms and haven't been tested.

Choosing healthier food options -- Incorporate more whole foods, fruits and vegetables into your diet. Reduce your intake of sugary and processed foods, and limit your consumption of alcohol.

Exercising more -- Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Start with a simple daily walk or bike ride and work up to more vigorous activities like jogging or swimming.

Getting plenty of sleep -- The CDC reports that frequently getting less than 7 hours of sleep makes it harder to manage blood sugar because it increases insulin resistance. It also can make you hungrier or feel less full after eating the next day.

Losing weight -- A small amount of weight loss, typically 5-7% of your body weight, can make a big difference and prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%. (That's 10-14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.)

Manage your stress -- Chronic stress causes rising blood sugar levels and contributes to insulin resistance. Find ways to relax, like meditation, yoga or reading a good book.

Quit smoking -- There are a million reasons to stop smoking, but if you quit now, your insulin levels can become better at lowering your blood sugar in as little as eight weeks.

While prediabetes often doesn't have symptoms, let your doctor know if you have experienced any of the following indications:

Blurred vision

Fatigue

Frequent infections

Frequent urination

Increased hunger

Increased thirst

Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands

Slow-healing sores

Unintended weight loss

Talk to a Doctor

Don't sugarcoat it! Understanding prediabetes early allows lifestyle changes that can help you from becoming diabetic later on -- so talk to a doctor about it. If you're looking for a provider, visit NW-Physicians.com to find one near you.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.