Prediabetes is a condition that, if left untreated, could lead to the development of diabetes, resulting in serious diseases. Many scientific studies have shown that the best therapy is a lifestyle change. Let’s see how.
The diagnosis of prediabetes is typical in individuals who have a high risk of developing type-2 diabetes, a high risk of developing diabetes complications (such as retinopathies and nephropathies) and a high cardiovascular risk.
A diagnosis of prediabetes is made when the person exhibits one or more of the following conditions:
- Altered blood sugar: values between 100 and 125 mg / dl
- Altered glucose tolerance: values between 140 and 199 mg / dl after 120 minutes (glucose load curve)
- High levels of glycated hemoglobin: between 5.7% and 6.4%
During the progression from healthy subject to diabetic subject a series of physiological alterations are observed:
- A progressive resistance of cells to respond to insulin
- To overcome point 1, the pancreas secretes large amounts of insulin to have the same effects it had when the individual was healthy
- During the progression of diabetes, the cells of the pancreas that are able to release insulin disappear, which must be taken through drugs (insulin-dependent diabetes)
- Elevated blood sugar levels both postprandial and fasting
Several scientific studies have shown that the most effective therapy for prediabetic subjects is mainly a change of lifestyle. Intervention studies have shown that by “prescribing” a change in diet and regular physical activity to prediabetes subjects, about 50% of the patients did not progress to diabetes, 10 years after the start of “treatment”. On the other hand, subjects who had been treated with drug therapy, such as metformin or pioglitazone, showed less success than a diet and lifestyle intervention.
The advice to be given to a prediabetic subject are:
- A reduction in the daily calorie intake
- Regular physical activity
- A reduction in body weight of at least 5-10%
- Focus not only on the quantity of food but also on the quality of what you eat
It is important to state that the prediabetes condition does not identify a disease but a situation of impaired carbohydrate metabolism that exposes the subject to a high probability of developing diabetes, with its complications and cardiovascular diseases. But on the other hand, it also identifies a group of subjects who, by applying a change in eating habits and introducing regular physical activity, have the opportunity to reverse the trend of their health condition.