Pre-diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic, “means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes”.  Prediabetes is an invisible condition but can initiate the start of the long-term damage of diabetes, especially to your heart, kidneys and blood vessels.  . 

The prevalence of this ‘silent’ condition was estimated in the VHI Healthcare Screening Projects which tested 30,000 people for type 2 diabetes from 2009 to 2013.  Their findings showed that 17% or almost 5,000 of those who participated had abnormal initial fasting blood sugar levels, 1.8% or 540 people had undiagnosed diabetes and 10% or 3,000 participants had pre-diabetes.  These figures came as no surprise to me as I often see clients in my clinics that are either pre-diabetic or have been walking around with Type 2 diabetes without ever knowing until I tested their blood!!

This project also discovered that men were more likely to have abnormal blood sugar levels, pre-diabetes and diabetes than women and that they were in fact 2-3 times more likely to have abnormal blood sugar levels and undiagnosed diabetes.  So for any men out there reading this blog, I hope these figures will motivate you to go to your GP and have your bloods tested!

Overweight and obesity of course plays a role too.  The higher the body mass index, the risk of having undiagnosed diabetes increased, which further reinforces my long held opinion of the importance of making changes in your diet and your lifestyle to decrease this risk and prevent diabetes.

Another study, The Slan 2007 study, estimated that there may be as many as 338, 956 people in the over 45 age group at high risk of developing diabetes in Ireland over the next 5 years.  We are now 10 years on from that study and the prevalence of diabetes in Ireland is estimated at over 200,000 people, with that number expected to rise steadily over the next decade. And this is number is based on those who have been diagnosed – it does not include those who are undiagnosed or those with prediabetes!

So what can we do to prevent ourselves from developing prediabetes, the precursor to diabetes, or even reversing it and normalising our blood sugars?   The first place to start maybe to assess your risk of having or developing prediabetes by taking this test available at Diabetes Ireland  https://www.diabetes.ie/living-with-diabetes/are-you-at-risk/.

The next step is to start to incorporate some healthy lifestyle habits into your daily life.  Even if you are prediabetic, it doesn’t mean you are destined to end up with type 2 diabetes.  There is now the scientific evidence that shows there is great potential to prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.  The American Diabetes Prevention Programme and the Finish Prevention study both had a strong focus on increased exercise, weight reduction and dietary modification.  Both of these studies showed reduced risk in developing type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes. 

With the obesity crisis affecting both adults and children, now may be the time for you to start to take control of the health of both you and your family.  Knowing what you have to do to prevent a disease such as type 2 diabetes or reverse prediabetes is sometimes not enough, you may need some help along the way to achieve this new reality.  At my clinics, we offer our many clients expert dietary advice, excellent behaviour modification skills as well as the motivation that is so crucial to achieve any goal.