Recently, a London news agency reported on the growing incidences of type two diabetes in the UK. They pointed out that the biggest risk factor for the increasing epidemic is the growing rate of obesity in the country.
This is not just a UK problem but a worldwide epidemic brought on mainly by the changing lifestyles of our population.
I hate to bore you with numbers but in the US the CDC has reported that the number of people with type 2 diabetes is upwards of 29 million or over 9 % of the population. Of those with the disease about a third don’t know they have it.
Those with pre-diabetes is approximately 86 million. Many pre-diabetics don’t even know they have the disease.
In many instances diabetes can be prevented with specific lifestyle changes. Exercise is one such changes you can start right NOW to put the odds in your favor of not getting this disease.
Diabetes usually gives us clues or warning-signals that it’s about to strike. Once these clues start becoming obvious you are now labeled as having pre-diabetes. It’s also called borderline diabetes, ‘high sugar’ or high blood sugar – among other names.
Although with proper care, diabetes can be reversed, the pre-diabetes phase of this disease is when it easiest to take control of it.
I believe that we can prevent pre-diabetes and even reverse it if proactive measures are taken as was evident in my own family. You see, my sister was pre-diabetic but was able to completely reverse the condition by being more vigilant about what she ate and becoming more active. Her last A1c reading puts her in the normal range again. And she is older than I am.
Signals that your are developing pre-diabetes
It has been stated that there are usually no obvious signals or symptoms of pre-diabetes but I believe that if you have any of its risk factors (see below) you should become more aware of its clues.
Have you been going to the bathroom more than normal lately? If you are not taking medications with side effects of excess urination, but you notice that you are going more lately, then it’s time to visit with your healthcare provider. Pay attention to your body. This can be a subtle signal that your blood sugar levels are not stable.
The most obvious clue of pre-diabetes is excess weight gain. If you notice the number on your scale steadily going up this signals that it’s time to fix your diet and start an exercise program to get back to normal weight. This is a growing problem in the US. Children as young as five years old are being classed as overweight. It’s no wonder diabetes is becoming an epidemic.
If you have been feeling tired and sluggish lately and nothing has changed in your day to day routine then this may also signal the beginning of pre-diabetes. This happens because there is excess sugars circulating in your blood and not going to the very cell levels of your body to supply needed energy.
How is your vision these days. Blurry vision is an indication that the blood supply to your eyes is being blocked by too much sugars in it.
Numbness in extremities, or peripheral neuropathy, might start affecting your hands and feet. If you are getting a ‘tingling’ feeling in your hands similar to when the circulation is returning to it after being cut off for a short time this could signal neuropathy.
There are other clues, like excessive thirst or muscle and joint pain, but the above list are the obvious ones we should be on the look out for.
Besides being overweight or obese there are several other risk factors that we should pay attention to:
Risk factors for pre-diabetes
Risk factors for pre-diabetes and diabetes include:
Family history of the disease – unfortunately if mom or dad has the disease, and especially your dad, chances are that you could develop the condition.
Many times a disease that affected your parents will not affect their children however in the case of diabetes when family history is compounded with excess weight gain the chances of getting diabetes increases.
Also if you have been living a sedentary lifestyle chances are that your blood sugar is on the high side.
Visceral fat or the fat that’s deep inside your body surrounding vital organs like your liver, heart, kidney and lungs is dangerous in that it can obstruct proper functioning of these organs. Have your ever heard an obese person breathing? It’s because of the excess visceral fat affecting their lungs. If you notice that you are carrying more weight around your waist lately then you could be on a fast track to developing pre-diabetes.
Belonging to certain ethnic groups – Afro-Americans, Asian Pacific, Native Americans, Asian Americans – is also a risk factor for the disease.
If you fall into any of the categories listed above then it’s time to have a sit down with your primary care team. If you are pre-diabetic now is the time to take action. Untreated diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, amputations and heart disease. You can prevent pre-diabetes and regain your health by upgrading your diet and becoming more active.