Pre-Diabetes

Prediabetes can be reversed with changes to diet and lifestyle, this should be the goal for anyone with prediabetes wanting to avoid type 2 diabetes. Discover the foods and lifestyle changes scientifically proven to help below.

Cases per year

38% of the adult US population

General frequency

96 million people ages 18 or older having prediabetes1

Risk

Prediabetes can cause organ damage and is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes

Reverse prediabetes with lifestyle interventions and a plant-based

A number of my patients have been able to reverse pre-diabetes by moving toward a more plant based diet.

Our PA Christina Lascano has seen the power of lifestyle medicine with her patients

Podcasts

Here are some top scientific studies that support the results our clinicians have seen first-hand:

Plant-based diets improve insulin sensitivity 

Effect of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet on Body Weight, Insulin Sensitivity, Postprandial Metabolism, and Intramyocellular and Hepatocellular Lipid Levels in Overweight Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Within 16 weeks of the intervention with a plant-based diet, the participants on a plant-based diet saw significant increases in insulin sensitivity compared to those in the control group. Improved insulin sensitivity reduces the risk of, and can reverse,  prediabetes by helping to maintain normal blood glucose levels 2

Plant-based diet reduce insulin resistance 

A Plant-Based Dietary Intervention Improves Beta-Cell Function and Insulin Resistance in Overweight Adults: A 16-Week Randomized Clinical Trial 

Participants of this study were randomized to a low-fat plant based diet or no changes for 16 weeks. At the end of the trial, those on the plant-based diet had significantly improved their insulin resistance and beta-cell function (cells that make insulin) which correlate with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes 3.

Lifestyle intervention reverses prediabetes

Outcome of lifestyle intervention in relation to duration of pre-diabetes: the Pathobiology and Reversibility of Prediabetes in a Biracial Cohort (PROP-ABC) study

In this lifestyle intervention trial participants with prediabetes aimed to avoid type 2 diabetes or reverse prediabetes. 93% of adults who initiated a lifestyle intervention within 3 months to 8.3 years of developing pre-diabetes did not progress to type 2 diabetes and nearly half reversed their prediabetes back to normal glucose regulation 4.

Find out more about prediabetes below

What is it?

Prediabetes is where your body doesn’t deal with glucose as well as it should. It is the state where your blood glucose levels are elevated, but they are not (yet) at the threshold to clinically be considered type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood glucose into your cells to use as energy. In prediabetes your cells do not respond to insulin as well as they should, making cells insulin resistant. When this happens, your cells take in less glucose, meaning more stays in the bloodstream. Some insulin receptors still work so some glucose gets into your cells. This means blood glucose levels are raised above normal but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. 

a diagram showing how prediabetes occurs as some cells are resistant to insulin resulting in raised levels of blood sugar

Symptoms 

Prediabetes doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms, you can have prediabetes for years without knowing. It is estimated that more than 80% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it

However, some of the health complications associated with type 2 diabetes, such as damage to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys, can actually start in prediabetes, so it’s a state to be avoided and reversed at all costs 5

It’s important to have regular blood work done, especially if you are at elevated risk of having prediabetes, to detect and manage it before it can become type 2 diabetes. These risk factor include: 

  • Being overweight 
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Lack of exercise: being physically active less than 3 times per week
  • Having type 2 diabetes in the family 
  • Medical history: Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds or having polycystic ovary syndrome 

Diagnosis 

Hemoglobin is a protein within our red blood cells. When it joins with glucose in the bloodstream, it becomes glycated hemoglobin. Glycated hemoglobin is also known as HbA1c, or hemoglobin A1c. The HbA1c test measures the amount of glucose attached to hemoglobin and is often used to diagnose diabetes. It gives an idea of average blood glucose levels over several weeks, instead of just one moment in time.

The results are as follows:

Normal - below 5.7%

Prediabetes - 5.7% to 6.4%

Diabetes - 6.5% or high on two separate tests 

Treatment 

The power of a plant-based diet cannot be understated when it comes to diabetes. With the right changes to diet and lifestyle, prediabetes can be reversed for good. Without them, the risk of type 2 diabetes is serious. 

By removing the foods that are known to cause insulin resistance, namely animal products and processed foods 6, and increasing the amount of plant foods that protect and restore our cells, prediabetes can be reversed 7.

Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise, stress management techniques, and improved sleep can also significantly improve prediabetes outcomes and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  

For anyone with prediabetes, it is crucial that these changes are made before it reaches a state of type 2 diabetes. Let food be your medicine and take charge of your chance to avoid type 2 diabetes. 

Think you may be suffering with this and need help? Join us today to make a change.  

References

1. CDC. Prediabetes - Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://bit.ly/2hMpYrt (2021).

2. Kahleova, H. et al. Effect of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet on Body Weight, Insulin Sensitivity, Postprandial Metabolism, and Intramyocellular and Hepatocellular Lipid Levels in Overweight Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw. Open 3, e2025454 (2020).

3. Kahleova, H., Tura, A., Hill, M., Holubkov, R. & Barnard, N. A Plant-Based Dietary Intervention Improves Beta-Cell Function and Insulin Resistance in Overweight Adults: A 16-Week Randomized Clinical Trial. Nutrients 10, 189 (2018).

4. Dagogo-Jack, S. et al. Outcome of lifestyle intervention in relation to duration of pre-diabetes: the Pathobiology and Reversibility of Prediabetes in a Biracial Cohort (PROP-ABC) study. BMJ Open Diabetes Res. Care 10, e002748 (2022).

5. Baranowska-Jurkun, A., Matuszewski, W. & Bandurska-Stankiewicz, E. Chronic Microvascular Complications in Prediabetic States—An Overview. J. Clin. Med. 9, 3289 (2020).

6. van Nielen, M., Feskens, E. J. M., Rietman, A., Siebelink, E. & Mensink, M. Partly Replacing Meat Protein with Soy Protein Alters Insulin Resistance and Blood Lipids in Postmenopausal Women with Abdominal Obesity. J. Nutr. 144, 1423–1429 (2014).

7. Salas-Salvadó, J., Becerra-Tomás, N., Papandreou, C. & Bulló, M. Dietary Patterns Emphasizing the Consumption of Plant Foods in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A Narrative Review. Adv. Nutr. 10, S320–S331 (2019).

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