Having a diagnosis of prediabetes can be jarring. Someone with prediabetes has 20 times the risk of developing diabetes in the next five years compared to someone whose blood sugar is in the normal range, according to the Standards of Care in Diabetes from the American Diabetes Association. Furthermore, the chance of developing diabetes within 5 years is 9 to 50%.
What if you could turn those numbers around? What if there were a way to reverse prediabetes, and do so naturally? It turns out that certain lifestyle choices, such as losing weight and increasing physical activity, can lower the risk for diabetes by 58% or more, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Lark Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coaches around these and other lifestyle choices that can lower blood sugar and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes without medicine. Following are some of ways that Lark DPP can help reverse prediabetes naturally.
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1. Lose weight
According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 89% of those with diabetes have overweight or obesity, including 42.5% with a BMI 30 to 39.9 kg/m2 and 15% with BMI of at least 40 kg/m2. Losing just a small amount, such as 5 to 10 percent, can greatly lower risk for type 2 diabetes.
Weight loss is hard for almost everyone, but it is more likely to be sustainable when it involves forming new habits. Lark Diabetes Prevention Program can help establish new, healthy habits for weight loss by making smart choices throughout the day.
Dos and Don’ts for Sustainable Weight Loss
2. Increase physical activity
Getting 150 or more minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity can lower risk for diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Furthermore, physical activity increases insulin sensitivity, reduces abdominal (“belly”) fat, and helps with weight control.
Almost anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder counts. Examples include:
- Brisk walking, hiking, and jogging.
- Swimming and water aerobics.
- Elliptical machine or rowing.
- Playing tennis, basketball, or soccer.
- Participating in boot camp, aerobics class, or conditioning classes.
- Raking, digging, and sweeping.
- Circuit training, or going from one move to another without stopping.
- Lifting weights without taking breaks between sets, or doing plyometrics or calisthenics between sets.
The “talk test” can be a guide for figuring out what counts as aerobic exercise. The CDC says that you should be working hard enough that you cannot sing easily, but not so hard that you cannot talk. Short sentences should be feasible.
As with weight loss, the challenge with increasing physical activity is to make it sustainable. These are some tips.
- Scheduling it into the calendar ahead of time helps set aside enough time for exercise.
- It is easier to get started if you have already gotten ready, such as laying out clothes and shoes the night before.
- Taking a class or meeting a friend to work out helps increase accountability and can help you get a better workout.
- Fancy equipment is not needed for activities such as walking, playing tag with the kids, or gardening.
- Bad weather will always happen, so having indoors alternatives, such as an exercise video inside the home, is a good idea.
- Logging activity can help you see accurately how much you have done and whether you are gradually increasing your physical activity levels over time.
Using a tracker and coach, such as Lark, can help increase motivation and accountability, as well as give more ideas for getting active.
3. Choose healthier foods
What you eat does not just affect your weight. Certain foods increase or decrease blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. In general, the American Diabetes Association suggests choosing foods that are less processed, higher in nutrients such as fiber, and lower in added sugars, refined starches, and saturated fats. The Harvard School of Public Health also makes nutrition recommendations for preventing diabetes.
Best and Worst Nutrients and Foods for Preventing Diabetes
|Best Nutrients and Foods||Worst Nutrients and Foods|
There is no need to try to remember how each food may impact blood sugar and diabetes risk. Lark DPP can offer tips about better choices as part of your personalized nutrition program.
4. Get more sleep
Getting sufficient, high-quality sleep is linked to lower blood sugar, according to the Standards of Care in Diabetesfrom the American Diabetes Association. Most adults should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. These tips can help you get better sleep.
- A consistent sleep schedule helps set aside enough time for sleep.
- A consistent bedtime routine improves your body’s ability to fall asleep faster.
- Having caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime is nearly sure to interfere with sleep.
- Turning off electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime can reduce the amount they interfere with quality sleep.
- Alcohol may make you feel tired, but it can lower the quality of sleep.
If you are wondering how you are doing for sleep and how you can improve, Lark DPP includes sleep tracking and coaching!
5. Do something about stress.
Stress is not just a burden to bear, because letting it become too unbearable can have real consequences, including raising blood sugar. While it is impossible to eliminate stress, managing stress better can have significant benefits, such as improving focus, reducing muscle tension, and lowering blood pressure.
These are some stress management techniques.
- Deep breathing.
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
- Visualizing your happy place and how it makes you feel.
They can be done anywhere, and Lark can guide you through these and other strategies to lower stress. For example, recognizing and letting go of things that are not within your control can keep you from worrying needlessly.
What about Metformin?
Metformin, or glucophage, is a well-known medication used to lower blood sugar in diabetes. It can be effective for preventing diabetes, according to the Standards of Care in Diabetesfrom the American Diabetes Association, and may have greater benefits among people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 kg/m2. However, its use in prediabetes is not that common, and working to reverse prediabetes naturally, without medicine, may be more common.
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It is best to discuss your treatment program with your healthcare provider as you determine your lifestyle change program and whether it may be a good idea to take a prescription medication, such as metformin.
Almost anyone can lower blood sugar or even reverse prediabetes, but it is a lot easier when you have a personal lifestyle coach like Lark in your pocket. Your Lark coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone to offer practical advice and encouragement, and to provide instant feedback when you log meals, exercise, and weight. Lowering blood sugar can feel natural as you earn celebratory badges for good choices and develop healthy habits.