Tuesday, November 14th is World Diabetes Day and 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes.  People who have prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to have diabetes.  Developing diabetes can lead to health problems such as higher risk for heart attack, stroke, blindness and amputation of the foot or toes.

There are ways to help bring your blood sugar levels down by making lifestyle changes if you have prediabetes:

  1. Cut Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates from your diet – these are foods that are high in sugar and white flour such as soda, white bread, bagels and more.
  2. Work-Out Regularly – exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells, so when you exercise, less insulin is required to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
  3. Make Water Your Primary Beverage – water not only keeps you hydrated but has zero calories and sugar.  When you replace sugary beverages such as juices and soda, you not only cut your calorie intake, but you decrease the amount of sugar you are taking in.
  4. Lose Weight If You Are Overweight – studies show that by maintaining a healthy weight, people reduce the likelihood of getting diabetes.
  5. Quit Smoking – smoking can lead to many illnesses including heart, lung disease and cancer.  Those who smoke are also at a higher risk for developing diabetes.
  6. Follow a Low Carb Diet – carbohydrates convert to sugar fast, so if you minimize your carbohydrate intake, your sugar levels won’t rise as fast after eating.
  7. Controlling Portion Size eating too much food at one time has been shown to cause higher blood sugar and insulin levels in people who have prediabetes.  If you decrease your portion sizes, it may help prevent this spike in blood sugar levels.
  8. Move Around! – studies show that people who are sedentary for most of the day are at a higher risk for diabetes.
  9. Eat a High Fiber Diet – eating a high fiber diet has been linked to a reduction in the amount of sugar in the blood stream.
  10. Minimize Eating Processed Foods – processed foods are linked to many health problems including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Rather than viewing prediabetes as a stepping stone to diabetes, it may be helpful to see it as a motivator for making changes that can help reduce your risk. Eating the right foods and adopting other lifestyle behaviors that promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels will give you the best chance at avoiding diabetes.