Prediabetes is a diagnosed condition that means a person’s normal body mechanism for dealing with blood sugar is almost not good enough. That same person will develop type 2 diabetes when the mechanism is no longer good enough. By the end of this post you will understand why prediabetes is easy to treat while type 2 diabetes is not. This post does not discuss type 1 diabetes although they would benefit from the same lifestyle changes.
The carbohydrates we eat are broken down into sugars and released into the blood stream where they need a method of transportation out of the blood. The body responds by releasing insulin, the hormone responsible for taking sugar from the blood and transporting it to the body parts that need it. Unfortunately the body can’t just flush out excess sugar, in which case insulin will transport the excess sugars to fat cells for storage (this is the most common weight gain method). That is because having high blood sugar is not normal and can cause extreme dangers including death
As we maintain an unhealthy and inactive lifestyle we run the risk of frequently being in a state of high blood sugar, in other words: too much sugar than we need. There comes a point where fat cells become resistant to insulin and will require more to keep taking in sugars. Think of it as a rusty lock that needs more key turns to open. The body responds by producing and releasing more insulin. Diabetes is the state where the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin to clear the blood from sugar. This is where medication and dietary restrictions are introduced to help manage high blood sugar. If the lifestyle remains unchanged, medication is no longer enough and foreign insulin (thank you fellow Canadian Frederick Banting) is injected in the body to directly meet the high insulin demands. The last situation is referred to as insulin-dependant type 2 diabetes and is very hard to treat.
When your doctor diagnoses you with prediabetes there is still a good chance that you can put a stop to it before you progress to type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, no medication can do this for you. Any medication prescribed by your doctor for prediabetes only helps treat the symptoms and not the actual problem. The number one problem with prediabetes is: lifestyle. And the only method of treating it is: fixing your lifestyle. Registered Dietitians are and will always remain our health care system’s top weapon for battling prediabetes and diabetes.
You might conclude from all this that carbohydrates or sugar are the enemy. In fact, they are in no way our enemies. Everyone needs carbohydrates to maintain a healthy body and weight. In this scenario, the phrase “the dose makes the poison” could not be more true. We take an extra step and add that “the dose & structure make the poison” in the case of carbohydrates. But that is a topic for another post.
If you know a loved one with prediabetes or recently diagnosed diabetes make sure you share this with them to let them know that it is not too late! If you are eager to get started or learn more, check this post out on why you should not cut out carbohydrates!
Mohamed Rezk, RD