Having prediabetes does not mean you will automatically develop diabetes. Genetics may play a small role, but things like inactivity, a poor diet, and being overweight play an even more prominent role in developing type 2 diabetes. Hear from our experts at Index Health about how you can reverse prediabetes, what foods to avoid and which to eat to help heal your body and mind.
What is the Difference between Prediabetes and Diabetes?
Even though both prediabetic and diabetic mean you have higher than normal blood sugar due to insulin resistance, prediabetes means your blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be diabetic. One of the biggest differences between the two is people with prediabetes is a bit easier to be cured with a change in diet and lifestyle, whereas type 2 diabetes is more challenging.
The Importance of Early Detection
According to the American Diabetes Association, 24.3% of adults with prediabetes will develop diabetes within 2 1/2 years. It is essential to keep up with your yearly doctor’s appointments and check in with your doctor if you notice any new symptoms such as:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Excessive hunger
- Sudden weight loss
- Numbness in feet or fingers
- Wounds seem to heal slowly
The earlier you are diagnosed with prediabetes, the easier it will be to reverse it. People with prediabetes are also at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
How does Diet Reverse Prediabetes?
More than 90% of people diagnosed with prediabetes are overweight or obese. Excess weight causes the muscles and tissue to become resistant to the insulin hormone, making it more difficult for glucose to enter the blood cells, and instead go to the bloodstream. People with excess weight in the belly or waist area are at a higher risk of this. By changing one’s diet, one can begin to lose weight, thus allowing insulin responsiveness to improve, once again making blood sugar regulation possible.
Regulates Blood Sugar
By following an anti-inflammatory, higher fiber, lower glycemic food plan, you will be able to regulate your blood sugar levels. One of the biggest struggles with prediabetes is preventing blood sugar level spikes and dips.
What Does a Prediabetes Diet Consist Of?
A prediabetes diet consists of lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and fiber-rich foods. The nutritionists here at Index Health will teach you the right foods to eat, when to eat them, and how to read food labels. You will also learn about the Glycemic Index.
The Glycemic Index is a tool that helps determine how a specific food will affect blood sugar levels. The higher the glycemic index, the faster it will raise your blood sugar. The lower the glycemic index, the less effect it will have on your blood sugar.
Contrary to belief, there is no need to eliminate your carbohydrate intake. They are safe if you keep them to 40% of your diet. Carbohydrates are high on the glycemic index because they are digested quickly, which will raise your blood sugar faster. Some higher glycemic examples include:
- White bread
- Russet potatoes
- White rice
- Sweet tea
Whole Grains and Starches
Whole grains are high-fiber foods. Eating fiber-rich foods makes you feel fuller, and your body digests them slowly, keeping your blood sugar levels regulated for longer. Here is a list of whole grains and starches that are good for a prediabetes diet:
- Whole-grain bread
- Whole-grain cereal
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain pasta
- Whole-grain crackers
Certain meats can be high in calories and saturated fats. Eating too much saturated fat can, in some people, lead to high cholesterol and put you at a higher risk of developing heart disease. That is why it is important to eat high quality, organic, pasture-raised, lean meats. Lean meat is meat that has no visible fat or skin. Some examples are lean meats are:
- Chicken or turkey without the skin
- Fish (cod, flounder, halibut, or tuna)
- Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp, or scallops)
- Lean beef cuts (flank steak, tenderloin, or roast with fat trimmed off)
- Pork loin
- Beef tenderloin
- Lean ground meat
Protein doesn’t just come from meats; it can be found in many other foods. Here are some different ways a person with prediabetes can add protein to their diet, and these are also great for people who prefer less meat consumption in their diet.
- Egg Substitute
- Egg whites
- Non-GMO Soybean products (tofu, tempeh)
- Greek yogurt
Starchy vegetables like potatoes are high in carbohydrates which can raise your blood sugar, whereas non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and have minimal effect on blood sugar. The best non-starchy vegetables for a prediabetes diet are:
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
It is recommended that someone on a prediabetes diet eat 2-3 servings of fruit daily. This will help keep the energy up and allow you to stay active, and help with weight loss. A great option while eating fresh fruits is to add a protein like nut butter, Greek yogurt, or almonds. Some excellent fresh fruit options are:
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries)
- Unsweetened canned fruit
Things to Avoid
There are many foods that people with prediabetes should eat, and there are also foods and beverages they should avoid, such as:
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Alcoholic beverages
- Sugary drinks
- Fatty meat
- White pasta
- White rice
- White flour
Reversing prediabetes is not just about a healthy diet, but about creating a healthy lifestyle. According to the Centers for disease control and prevention, 88 million Americans have prediabetes. People over 45 who are overweight and don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity are at a higher risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Eating healthy foods is essential, increasing your physical activity, and monitoring your blood sugar levels.
Here at Index Health, we don’t just treat the symptoms; we get to the root cause. Our certified diabetes care professionals will sit down with you and discuss your concerns and goals. We will also do lab tests and collect data to make a plan tailored to your unique needs. We will often use a continuous glucose monitor (Freestyle Libre, DEXCOM, etc.), to help you understand exactly how your body’s glucose levels respond to each individual food. If you have been recently diagnosed with prediabetes, don’t hesitate to become a member at Index Health and meet our specialized care team. Let us help you reverse this disease once and for all.