Updated: Mar 27
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you’re probably worried that diabetes is on the horizon. Maybe you’ve googled the statistics. And they don’t look good.
😲 Up to 70% of individuals with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes, according to an expert panel at the American Diabetes Association.(1)
😲 Up to 37% of people with untreated prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 4 years.(2)
😲 96 million US adults have prediabetes, but over 80% of them don’t even know it.(3)
😲 34.2 million people in the United States were living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes in 2018.(4)
But I have good news for you, even if you’re prediabetic.
Prediabetes is reversible. You can avoid getting type 2 diabetes.
You can make a difference in your own outcome — even if your doctor told you to just “watch and wait”. The largest diabetes prevention study to date found a 58% risk reduction after specific lifestyle interventions.(5)
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be talking about some easily accessible tools you can use to help track and control your blood sugar so you can reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
But first, let’s dig into the nitty gritty of diabetes and what causes it.
What is blood sugar?
Prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes all have to do with your blood sugar — also known as blood glucose.
When you eat, your body breaks the food down into smaller components so the nutrients can be used for energy, rebuilding, and repair.
Digested carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars called glucose. This glucose goes into your blood (hence the term blood sugar) and is transported into your cells to provide energy. So blood sugar isn’t a bad thing. In fact you need glucose in your blood in order to survive.
Prediabetes and diabetes develop when you consistently have too much glucose in your blood. This is known as high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia.
Your body is really smart and it can sense when your blood sugar goes up — like after you eat a meal. So it releases a hormone called insulin. This hormone grabs the glucose out of the blood and shuttles it into the cells where it’s needed for energy.
But in the case of prediabetes and diabetes, problems develop with this process and too much sugar stays in your blood.
What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Both of these diseases occur when your body isn’t able to move the sugar (glucose) from your blood into your cells. But the causes are different. More on that in a sec…
Insulin is the key. Your pancreas creates the insulin. Then your body uses this hormone to move the sugar from the blood into the cells. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are caused by problems with insulin. But the cause of the insulin problems are different.
What is type 1 diabetes?
People with type 1 diabetes are not able to make insulin. The cells in the pancreas that are responsible for making this hormone are damaged or destroyed.
Scientists believe this happens as a result of an autoimmune response. This is when the immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the body instead of foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria.
In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that create insulin. Once these cells can no longer function, the body loses its ability to create insulin. And without insulin, glucose stays in the blood and is not delivered into the cells.
So someone with type 1 diabetes has to take supplemental insulin in order to move the sugar from their blood into their cells.
Type 1 diabetes typically comes on quickly and usually carries obvious symptoms.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Most people with type 2 diabetes have plenty of insulin. In fact, they may have too much. But their cells become resistant to it. This condition is called insulin resistance. Think of it like this…
Your cell is a locked room. Insulin is the key. Insulin needs to unlock the door so that glucose can get inside. Insulin sensitivity occurs when this system is operating smoothly. The key (insulin) easily unlocks the door (your cell) so the glucose can go from your blood into your cell and provide energy.
When you develop insulin resistance, that key no longer unlocks the door effectively. The glucose can’t get into the cell so instead, it stays in the blood.
Insulin resistance is a condition that develops slowly over time. And many people don’t even realize it’s happening. Insulin levels start to rise as the body works to get more glucose pushed into the cells. But this warning sign is typically overlooked because insulin levels aren’t often measured. And this change in insulin levels shows up before blood sugar levels take on a concerning pattern.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is also the result of insulin resistance. And it is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. You might get a prediabetes diagnosis when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not at levels high enough to be considered diabetic.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you’ve developed insulin resistance. Your cells are losing their sensitivity to insulin. But they are still able to open the door and let enough glucose in to keep your blood sugar levels below the threshold of type 2 diabetes.
A prediabetes diagnosis is scary. But if you take action now, you have a great chance of improving your blood sugar levels and avoiding a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
How do I avoid getting type 2 diabetes?
Avoiding type 2 diabetes is possible. And it’s all about nutrition.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be talking all about how to avoid a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. We’ll cover:
🙌 Dietary changes you can make to improve your insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar.
🙌 Ways to make these changes work for you and your life — because let’s face it, changing the way you eat can be a challenge.
🙌 Simple tools you can use to make this journey much easier.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, there is hope — even if your doctor told you there’s not much you can do.
If you’re reading this article, I’m betting you’re ready to take a proactive role in your health. But navigating this journey alone can be challenging. That’s why I’m here!
I provide personalized dietary support for my prediabetic clients so they can:
✔ Improve their insulin sensitivity
✔ Lower their blood sugar
✔ Track their progress in a meaningful way
✔ Make changes that move the needle without disrupting their lives