What is prediabetes?
Understanding the precursor to a diabetes diagnosis.
In the next year, it’s predicted that more than a million Americans will be diagnosed with prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are elevated enough to be of concern but are not yet high enough to qualify as fully diabetic. While prediabetes often does develop into type 2 diabetes, there’s no guarantee that it will. But it’s a red flag to address sooner rather than later.
There are several steps you can take to reduce your odds of developing diabetes; taking these actions may even help you decrease your blood sugar levels below the prediabetic threshold. Let’s dive in.
Defining prediabetesHealthcare professionals recommend that everyone between the ages of 30 to 45 be screened for prediabetes, with a followup screening occurring every three years. In screening, doctors will usually assess different risk factors, including your age, sex, body mass index (BMI), ethnicity, and your family’s medical history. Each of these factors can influence your risk of developing both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
However, a diagnosis of prediabetes is based purely on your blood sugar levels. This can be measured through any of the following ways:
An A1C test to determine what percentage of your blood cells are coated in sugar. If your A1C result is between 5.7 and 6.4%, you may be prediabetic.
A fasting blood glucose test in which you’re asked to refrain from eating and drinking for 12 hours. If your blood sugar levels are determined to be between 100 and 125 mg/dL, you’ll likely be considered prediabetic.
A two-hour glucose tolerance test in which the doctor will measure your blood glucose levels, ask you to eat a set amount of sugar (usually 75 grams of sugar dissolved in liquid), and then measure your blood sugar levels again. In this test, blood sugar levels between 140 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL are considered an indicator of prediabetes.
- A plasma glucose test, in which your blood sugar levels are tested without any preparation, such as fasting or drinking a sugary concoction. Here, a result between 140 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL indicates that you may have prediabetes. Importantly, this test may give falsely high or low results because your blood sugar levels can change rapidly throughout the day. For this reason, doctors usually pair it with one of the tests mentioned above.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to manage prediabetes. If you’re concerned about diabetes and prediabetes, the first step is to talk with your physician — they’ll be able to consider your blood test results as well as your unique circumstances in life.
Together, you can develop actionable next steps that are appropriate for you. In general, people can decrease their odds of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes by making sure they get 30 minutes of exercise a day, maintaining a balanced diet and, if necessary, taking medication.
Additionally, we’ve shown in a nutritional study that Pendulum Glucose Control lowered A1C and blood sugar spikes in people living with type 2 diabetes by helping restore functionality of the gut microbiome. Learn more here.