Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. 6 Things Your Doctor Wants You to Know about Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes

    Pre-diabetes affects 86 million adults in the United States and diabetes affects 29 million. If you’re one of them, keep reading! As Diet-to-Go’s resident family physician, I’ll clear up some commonly confusing facts about diabetes and tell you six important facts your doctor wants you to know.

    1. Pre-Diabetes has Many Names

    You may hear your doctor refer to pre-diabetes as hyperglycemia (defined as an excess of glucose in the bloodstream) or insulin resistance syndrome (also called metabolic syndrome and means that your body cannot properly respond to the insulin it makes). If your doctor tells you that you have Prediabetes, that means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Without intervention, prediabetes is likely to become type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less.

    2. How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

    There are two ways for your doctor to identify and diagnose diabetes. The first is with a fasting blood sugar test. After fasting (no food or drink except water) for 12 hours or more, a blood sugar test is given. If your result is in the range of 100-125 mg/dL, your diagnosis is Pre-Diabetes. If your result is above 125 mg/dL, your diagnosis is Diabetes. The second way is by measuring hemoglobin A-1 C levels, which gives you an average of blood sugar levels over the past 90 days. An A-1 C level of 5.7 to 6.4 is defined as pre-diabetes and lifestyle changes are recommended to reverse this diagnosis. If you’re A-1 C level is 6.5 or above, your diagnosis is Diabetes.

    3. Weight Loss is Key

    Weight-loss, hands, down, is the best way to slow the progression of Pre-Diabetes to Diabetes. The goal for patients is a Body Mass Index (or BMI) of less than 25, but even moderate weight loss will help! Find your BMI here.

    According to one study, people who had prediabetes and lost 5% to 7% of their body weight (just 10-14 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds) cut their chances of getting diabetes by a staggering 58%!

    4. The Key to Weight Loss is a Better Diet

    A better diet is key to helping with weight loss and controlling your blood sugar. You should eat less SIMPLE carbohydrates. This means avoiding anything with white flour, white rice, potatoes, white sugar, honey and even fruits that are high in natural sugars such as grapes, bananas, mangos, sweet cherries, apples, pineapples, pears and kiwi fruit. You should also avoid fried foods, processed meats, and fatty red meats. Limit alcohol to one drink or less daily.

    5. Exercise Can Help

    Exercise is also very helpful to lowering blood sugar. The recommendation is 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week or 150 minutes per week. It’s a little-known fact that adding strength training can help lower blood sugar too!

    Don’t worry if you’re not a gym-goer. When you perform even moderate exercise, like walking, that makes your heart beat a little faster and causes you to breathe a little harder. Your muscles use more glucose, which is the sugar in your blood stream. Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels. It also makes the insulin in your body work better. Furthermore, you'll get these benefits for hours after your walk or workout. The bottom line: Find ways to move more and sit less!

    6. Know Your Numbers

    Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol is very important if you are at risk for diabetes. Pre-diabetics and diabetics are at much higher risk for heart attacks and stroke. Controlling cholesterol and blood pressure help reduce the risk of both of these. As a physician, I recommend these goals to patients:

    • Triglycerides < 150
    • LDL Cholesterol <100
    • HDL Cholesterol > 40 (higher is better!)
    • Blood Pressure < 135/85

    Read more about Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes here:
    American Diabetes Association
    Mayo Clinic: Type 2 Diabetes

    Author: Karen O'Keefe
    I am originally from Virginia and received my medical degree at McGill University in Montreal. I then completed a three-year family practice residency program at Atlanta Medical Center. In 2002, I moved to Bellingham with my husband, Dr. Casey O’Keefe, who is a urologist in Bellingham.

    I chose family medicine because I enjoy treating the entire person and often the entire family. I especially like preventive medicine, women's health, sports medicine, and doing minor procedures. It is so satisfying to see a whole family - husband, wife, and children - and work to keep the entire family healthy as a whole.

    Outside of work I like to spend time with my husband and two daughters. I enjoy exercising and am usually in some sort of training for a leg of our local Ski to Sea event, which I have participated in every year since 2002.


    Overall Health & Nutrition
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