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A person man or women with prediabetes has blood sugar levels that are high but not yet within the ranges of diabetes. There is still time to control the levels and prevent diabetes from developing.

Worldwide, around 5–10%Trusted Source of people with prediabetes develop diabetes each year. Up to 70% of people with prediabetes go on to develop diabetes, according to research from 2012.

Taking preventive action, such as making dietary changes, can reduce this risk by 40–75%. Indeed, 5–10% of people with prediabetes return to normal glucose levels each year, the study suggests.

If a person with prediabetes knows what action to take, there is a good chance that they can prevent diabetes from developing.

Prevention plans usually involve two key lifestyle factors: a healthful diet and regular exercise.

This article will discuss how diet and prediabetes are related and provide some diet tips for managing glucose levels.

Prediabetes diet: Foods to eat and avoid

Results of the Diabetes Prevention Program in the United States suggest that in people with overweight, every 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) they lose per year can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 16%Trusted Source.

Prevent Diabetes in Women

After 3 years, this would be equal to a 58% reduction in risk.

A diet that can help a person lose weight and manage prediabetes will normally include foods that are:

  • Low in fat
  • Low in calories
  • High in fiber

People should eat plenty of:

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Protein-packed legumes

They should be careful to avoid added sugars. Fruits contain sugar, but they also provide fiber and other nutrients. For this reason, a person can include a limited amount of fruit in their diet.

What makes a low or high GI score?

The body digests whole grains and high fiber foods slowly. Their sugars enter the bloodstream gradually. Foods that contain fiber, such as fruits and whole grains, will have a lower GI score than those made with refined ingredients.

The body processes sugars and refined carbs quickly. This causes a quick rise in blood sugar levels and a “sugar spike,” or high glucose levels in the blood. Foods containing refined carbs and added sugars will have a high GI score.

This is why white bread has a higher GI value than wholemeal bread.

People with prediabetes should try to avoid a sugar spike. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Foods with a GI score of 55 or under raise blood sugar levels slowly.
  • Foods with GI scores between 56 and 69 raise blood sugar levels at a moderate rate.
  • Foods with a GI score of 70 or above raise blood sugar levels rapidly.

Some GI tips

It is not easy to tell a food’s GI score simply by looking at it.

Here are some tips that may help:

  • Foods that contain refined sugars usually have a higher GI score than foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruit.
  • Whole foods tend to have lower GI scores than products made with refined grains, such as white bread or rice.
  • Sweet potatoes, most vegetables, whole fruit, and legumes have lower GI scores than white starchy vegetables, such as potatoes.
  • As most fruits and vegetables ripen, their sugar content increases and their GI score goes up.
  • Pastas tend to have low GI scores due to the way their starches are bound.
  • Parboiled rice, basmati rice, and brown rice all have lower GI scores than short grain or jasmine rice.
  • Homemade oatmeal or stone-cut oats have lower GI scores than packaged oatmeal.

Eat regular meals

People with prediabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels as steady as possible.

Fasting can cause significant changes in blood sugar levels, but eating small meals at regular intervals can help maintain glucose levels.

Experts recommend eating three properly portioned meals regularly throughout the day. These meals should be no more than 6 hours apart.

They also suggest ensuring that meals are balanced, with each containing a source of protein, fat, and carbs.

To check whether or not a meal is correctly portioned, a person might use the plate method.

Eating out

Having prediabetes does not mean that a person cannot eat out or enjoy their food, but they do need to be mindful about the choices they make.

How much Exercise to Prevent Diabetes in Women

Here are some tips for eating out:

  • Encourage friends and family to eat at restaurants that have healthful options.
  • Choose a salad and ask to have it without dressing, or ask for a little olive oil or lemon juice to dress it with.
  • Avoid buffets if it is too tempting to have more than one plate.
  • Go for quality, such as fresh ingredients, rather than quantity.
  • See if the menu lists the calories for each dish.
  • Opt for sparkling water with ice and a slice of lemon, instead of soda or alcohol.

Diabetes, exercise and blood glucose levels

Exercise causes your muscles to use more glucose, so it can lower your BGLs. It is important for people with diabetes to keep track of their BGLs when they exercise.

Hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycaemia or a low BGL (4.0 mmol/L or less) can occur in people who inject insulin or take a type of glucose lowering medication (sulphonylurea).

Exercise causes your muscles to use more glucose. This lowers your BGLs. For people taking insulin or diabetes tablets (which make you produce more insulin) there is a risk of your BGLs going too low.

Check your BGLs before during and after exercise to see how the particular exercise you are doing affects your BGLs. The type, length of time (duration) and intensity of exercise can all have an effect.

You can reduce your risk of hypoglycaemia during and after exercise by:

  • Checking your BGLs before exercise – make sure your BGL is at least 7.0mmol/L before exercise
  • Checking your BGL regularly during and after exercise
  • Increasing your carbohydrate intake as necessary according to intensity, duration and type of exercise
  • Decreasing medication or insulin as necessary, after talking to your doctor.                                                                                                                                                        Your risk of hypoglycaemia during exercise is increased if:

 

  • You have longstanding diabetes and inject insulin
  • You have had recurring episodes of hypoglycaemia
  • You are unable to detect the early warning signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia
  • You have an episode of hypoglycaemia before exercise (both exercise and hypoglycaemia reduce your ability to detect further hypoglycaemia)
  • You have drunk alcohol before exercise (alcohol reduces your ability to detect hypoglycaemia).

Hyperglycaemia

Hyperglycaemia is another way of saying that BGLs are too high (over 11mmol/L).

Exercising when your blood glucose is higher than normal can lower your levels. However, if you are unwell and your BGLs are higher it is best to avoid exercising until your BGLs have returned to the normal range.

People with diabetes who have BGLs above the normal range are more at risk of dehydration so increase your fluids to stay hydrated when you exercise.

If you have type 1 diabetes refer to the ‘Diabetes, exercise and ketoacidosis’ section below.

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