What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a term that encompasses two conditions: Impaired Fasting Glucose (i.e. fasting blood sugar levels slightly higher than normal) and Impaired Glucose Tolerance (i.e. slightly higher than normal blood sugar levels after a meal or glucose challenge). Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for one to be classified as a diabetic. Without treatment, many people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. In addition to the increased risk of developing diabetes, individuals with prediabetes are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

What causes prediabetes?
Prediabetes arises when the pancreas does not make enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) or when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin, or both. It is currently unclear why one develops problems with insulin production or sensitivity, however, abdominal obesity, inactivity and family history seem to contribute to the problem. Other risk factors include age, race (including those of African, Hispanic, Asian and Native descent), having gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome or having too little or too much sleep.

Are there symptoms of prediabetes?
Unfortunately there are no consistent symptoms of prediabetes, so without proper assessment it continues unnoticed. Diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, frequent infections, and rapid unintentional weight loss.

Can prediabetes be treated?
People diagnosed with prediabetes can either delay or prevent the onset of diabetes by improving their diet and changing their lifestyle, which includes losing weight and exercising.

What approach do I take in working with those who are prediabetic?
An individualized plan that addresses diet, physical activity and exercise, stress, weight loss and sleep is put in place to normalize blood sugar levels and to reduce risks of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Other conditions (high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides) associated with prediabetes and diabetes are also addressed.

If you have any questions about prediabetes, diabetes, or how naturopathic medicine can help you, please call 613-290-6115. Graham Beaton is a naturopathic doctor providing care for those with prediabetes or diabetes in Ottawa.