What Does Pre-Diabetes Mean?
Pre-diabetes means that you have a blood sugar level that is higher than normal BUT not quite high enough to be called diabetes. This is identified by blood sugar (glucose) tests called the Hba1c.
A raised blood sugar level puts you at a higher risk of getting diabetes and heart disease. Making changes to your lifestyle can delay or even prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease too. This has now been proven in several large research studies.
Heart risk: People with pre-diabetes often have high blood pressure and, are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease (e.g. angina, heart attack and stroke).
Diabetes risk: If no action is taken, 33 out of 100 people with pre-diabetes (a third) will develop type 2 diabetes within 6 years. Doctors consider this to be a high level of risk and it is over ten times the risk of the average person getting type 2 diabetes.
What Can I Do To Help?
You should have a blood test every 12 months to measure your blood glucose level (Hba1c) as you are now at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Making small changes to your lifestyle to make it a healthier lifestyle will help to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting Diabetes and Heart Disease?
The good news is that for many people with pre-diabetes, diabetes can be delayed or prevented by increasing your physical activity, making changes to what you eat and by losing weight. Keeping these changes going over time improves your overall health and reduces your heart disease risk too. Out of 100 people with pre-diabetes who make ‘healthy lifestyle’ changes, only 13 will develop diabetes (compare this with 33 out of 100 if no action is taken!). The more changes you can make the better.
Healthy Eating and Weight
If you are overweight the most important thing is to try and lose weight. The best way to do this is to follow a healthy diet and take regular exercise. In particular, look at the amount of fatty and sugary foods/drinks you consume.
What Is Healthy Eating?
1. Eat regularly – Have 3 meals a day. For example, breakfast, lunch and evening meal. This will help keep your blood glucose levels steady and control your appetite.
2. Include starchy carbohydrate food at each meal – starchy foods include cereal, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes. High fibre options are best. See the below for more information.
Starchy Carbohydrates to Avoid
Sugar or honey-coated breakfast cereals, for example, Frosties, Coco Pops, sweetened muesli, sugary cereal bars
Fried Chips, Instant Mash, Roast Potato
Fried rice, cheesy pasta dishes
White bread or rolls
Choose More of These Starchy Carbohydrates
Wholegrain breakfast cereal, for example, Weetabix, unsweetened muesli, Shredded Wheat, Branflakes, porridge
Boiled Potatoes, New potatoes,
Sweet Potato, Baked Potato
Basmati rice, pasta, chapatti
Whole grain, granary, seeded bread or rolls
3. Eat less Sugar – Too much sugar and foods containing sugar can cause the blood glucose levels to rise. It is best to replace these with lower sugar and sugar free foods instead. See the table below for examples.
Foods High in Sugar to Eat less Of
Sugar, glucose, glucose syrup, dextrose, sucrose, icing sugar, light spoon, half spoon
Sweet squash and fizzy drinks, for example, Ribena, Lucozade, cola, lemonade, drinking chocolate and fruit juices
Sweets, for example, chocolate, toffee, fudge, tablet, mints, chocolate covered and cream filled biscuits, cakes, marzipan
Sugar-coated or honey-coated breakfast cereal, for example, Frosties, Sugar Puffs, Crunchy Nut, sweet puddings, crumble, tarts, tinned fruit in syrup
Marmalade, jam, honey, syrup
Foods Lower Sugar/Sugar Free
Artificial sweeteners, for example, Canderel, Sweetex, Hermesetas, Splenda
Diet, low calorie, sugar-free squash and fizzy drinks, for example, Robinsons Special R
Diet Coke, Pepsi Max, tea, coffee
Plain biscuit or small scone, small crumpet or pancake, oatcakes, crackers
Unsweetened breakfast cereal, for example, Porridge, Weetabix, Branflakes, Allbran
Fresh or dried fruit, diet or light yoghurt, sugar-free jelly, tinned fruit in natural juice
Reduced sugar marmalade, jam or thin
scraping of ordinary jam, marmalade or honey
4. Eat less fried and fatty foods – High fat diets are linked to heart disease and reducing your fat intake will help you lose weight. See the table below for information on how to reduce your fat intake.
Foods High in Fat
Butter, Margarine, oil, lard, dripping
Fried foods, chips, pies, pastries, sausage rolls, fatty meat
Creamy sauces and dressings
Cream, mayonnaise, salad cream, full fat yoghurt, full fat milk
Full fat cheese, Crisps, savoury snacks, nuts
Choose Foods Lower in Fat
Low fat spread and oils made from
unsaturated oils such as olive oil, vegetable
oil, corn oil, monounsaturated spreads
Grill, poach, boil, microwave or oven bake food
Potatoes – boiled, steamed or baked
Lean cuts of meat, fish and chicken without skin
Tomato based sauces, low fat natural yoghurt, low fat fromage frais, semi skimmed or skimmed milk
Reduced fat varieties of cheese, Lower fat
cheese such as Edam, gouda, cottage
cheese, grate or slice cheese thinly.
5. Eat fruit and vegetables – 5 portions a day
All fruit and vegetables are suitable and they can be fresh, frozen or tinned in natural juice, but strain the juice first as this contains sugar. Try to have vegetables with your evening meal and spread your fruit throughout the day.
1 Portion = 1 medium fruit (apple, banana or orange) 2 small fruits (kiwis, satsumas or plum), handful of berries (raspberries, strawberries or blueberries)
6. Include oily fish
Oily fish contains a type of fat called omega 3, which helps protect against heart disease. You should try to have oily fish in your diet at least once a week. Examples are sardines, pilchards, salmon, mackerel, tuna
7. Eat less salt
Too much salt can raise your blood pressure which can lead to stroke and heart disease.
Avoid adding salt at the table. Use as little salt as possible in cooking. Use herbs and spices to flavour food instead. Avoid processed foods, tinned, packed foods, and salty meats.
8. Healthy Weight
Body weight and the risk of developing diabetes are closely linked. If you are overweight it is harder for your body to use insulin properly. A healthy weight will also help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and control your blood pressure
Aim for a realistic weight loss (1-2lbs each week). It is better to lose a small amount of weight and keep it off, than to lose a lot of weight and regain it.
9. Limit your alcohol intake
The recommended amounts of alcohol for people with pre-diabetes and the general population are exactly the same.
For men and women no more than 14 units to be consume in a week (1/2 pint of beer = 1.4 units, wine 175ml = 2.5units and spirits 35ml = 1.3 units)
Everyone should have at least one or two alcohol-free days a week. Alcohol is high in sugary and causes weight gain, therefore sensible drinking is essential.
Smoking greatly increases the chance of developing a serious health problem. Please book into our smoking cessation clinic with Charlotte Gadd at Milton Surgery and she will help you to QUIT!
Physical activity Increased daily activity can help you to control your weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
It is a good idea to take up some form of regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, dancing or cycling… even housework counts!!
Changing your lifestyle can have other great benefits too!
Any amount of weight loss, healthier eating or increases in physical activity can provide other strong benefits for your health. These include:
Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Stronger bones, muscles & joints
Physical activity can relieve stress and depression
Reduced risk of some forms of cancer
Don’t despair! Remember, it often takes several attempts to change lifestyle habits, so don’t be put off if you don’t succeed at first – instead, try to learn from the experience, figure out what went wrong, then plan how to do it better. Try and try again!