What is Prediabetes? (Borderline Diabetes)

Prediabetes is a condition that 1 out of 3 American adults have, but only 10% are aware that they have it.

But what is prediabetes? Does it mean you will need to take insulin and prick your fingers to check blood sugar? How can you take care of it if you have it? Here are the prediabetes basics to know.

Normal (Healthy) Blood Sugar Regulation

Prediabetes is a stage between normal, healthy blood sugar control, and type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar, or blood glucose, levels are higher in prediabetes than in healthy people, but lower than in diabetes. The same is true for insulin resistance. These are also related to how your body uses carbohydrates.

A source of blood glucose is your liver. Your liver makes and stores glucose so that you can use the glucose when your cells need it.

Here is where insulin enters the picture. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by beta cells in your pancreas. Your fat, muscle, and liver cells all need insulin to be able to take in the glucose from your blood. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas release insulin to help cells in your body take glucose from the bloodstream.

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are conditions that develop when insulin does not work properly in your body anymore. They develop gradually, often over years or decades, and are usually as least partially related to lifestyle factors that you have some control over.

Removing desserts is an easy way to reduce sugar intake for people beginning to become resistant to insulin.

The Start of Insulin Resistance

Continually asking your body to produce more insulin leads to trouble. You are likely to develop a condition called insulin resistance. That means that the cells in your body are no longer highly sensitive, or responsive, to insulin. Instead, they require more insulin to do the same job of clearing excess glucose from your blood to get blood sugar levels back to normal.

The Development of Prediabetes and Diabetes

Your body will try to keep up with demands, and can be successful for a long time. As your insulin resistance increases, your pancreas can produce increasing amounts of insulin to try to keep blood sugar levels in normal ranges.If this continues, though, the system will eventually break down. At some point, your pancreas will be unable to produce enough insulin to keep up with demand.

This point, when insulin is no longer sufficient, is the point when your blood sugar levels begin to rise. You can get a blood test, and your doctor can diagnose you with prediabetes or diabetes based on the result. 

When to Get Tested for Prediabetes

Your doctor may order a prediabetes screening test for you, and the American Diabetes Association recommends regular screening if you are 45 years of age or older. [1] You might want to ask your healthcare provider to order a prediabetes test if you have symptoms or risk factors.

Lark provides a 1 minute quiz to see if you are at risk for prediabetes. Check your symptoms now below.

Prediabetes Symptoms

You may notice some symptoms with diabetes. They can include the following. [2]

·      Increased thirst and more frequent urination.

·      Tingling or numbness in your fingers or feet.

·      Increased hunger.

·      Unexplained low energy levels.

·      Poorer vision.

·      Slower healing of cuts and minor wounds.

Still, it is important to know that not only might you not get symptoms with diabetes, but you are unlikely to have symptoms with prediabetes. That is why you should know your risk.

Prediabetes Risk Factors

The risk factors for prediabetes include both lifestyle factors, which you can change, and genetic factors, which you cannot change. [3] Knowing which risk factors you have can give you an idea of whether you are likely to have prediabetes or be at risk for insulin resistance.

These are some of the lifestyle, or modifiable, risk factors for prediabetes.

·      Being overweight or obese.

·      Not getting regular physical activity or exercise.

·      Eating high amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates, or fried foods.

·      Having a diet low in fiber.

These are some of the genetic, or non-modifiable, risk factors for prediabetes.

·      Having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

·      Being 45 years of age or older.

·      Being of African American, Native American, Asian American, or Hispanic American ethnicity.

·      Having a personal history of gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby weighing at least 9 lb.

·      Having polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.

Time to Get Tested for Prediabetes?

It is best to be on the safe side and get tested for prediabetes even if you do not have symptoms or do not think you have many risk factors. There is data to back this up: a full one-third of American adults have prediabetes, and a shocking 90% of them do not know that they have it! [4] That means these people are not getting the care they need for it, and are more likely to have health consequences or see it progress to diabetes.

Fighting Prediabetes with Lifestyle and Medical Care

Most people with prediabetes eventually get diabetes. About 5 to 10% of people with prediabetes get diabetes each year, [6] but you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes. A famous clinical trial tested the effects of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in people with prediabetes. [7]

The study found that:

·      Participants in the DPP group had a 58% lower risk of developing diabetes.

·      Participants who were at least 60 years old or who were Asian American had a 71% lower risk.

·      Participants in the DPP group had more weight loss and increased activity levels than those in other groups.

The DPP has a curriculum designed to help you lose weight and implement the other lifestyle behaviors that can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. The program takes a year to complete and may be covered by your insurance. You can enroll in an in-person DPP with weekly meetings, or opt for a program such as Lark DPP, which you can access anytime on your smartphone.

What is Lark?

A new study reveals that artificial intelligence could be a useful tool to help patients prevent Type 2 diabetes. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, showed that patients at risk of Type 2 diabetes who used the Lark Weight Loss Health Coach AI, dropped 2.38 percent of their baseline weight and increase the percentage of healthful meals they ate by 31 percent. 

Lark Technologies debuted in 2011 and was originally focused on sleep technologies, but have pivoted, or as Hu says, evolved. Now there are no longer field devices but the technologies sit on top of 70 different health monitors. 

Currently, Lark has four products on the marketing including a wellness, diabetes prevention, diabetes management, and hypertension management platforms. 

“This study demonstrates AI’s potential to provide compassionate care that is associated with weight loss, increased healthy lifestyle behaviors, and user trust that can reduce diabetes risk,” the study reads. 

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