Cure Your Prediabetes

Cure Your Prediabetes

Nearly 30 million American adults have diabetes and another 86 million have prediabetes. The enormity of the epidemic strikes home when we consider that medical researchers predict that as many as 30% of patients with prediabetes will progress to type 2 diabetes within five years in the absence of directed intervention. However, there is a way to stop prediabetes in its tracks, perhaps even reverse it.

How did this problem get so out of hand in the first place?

We’ve reached this dire crossroads because, as a nation, we’ve become addicted to convenience. We have replaced activity with sitting, doing with watching, living full lives with documenting lesser ones. And we have chosen foods that are devoid of nutritional value but quick and easy to prepare.

What should we do about it?

To reverse prediabetes, we’ll have to change our ways on many fronts. Gone are the greasy burgers, supersized fries, and colas, swept away in favor of grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and spinach salad. Let’s leave all of those sweet treats, all of that macaroni and cheese, to people who are not fazed in the least by heart disease and premature death.

We will need to become emotionally invested in low glycemic load meal plans and portion control, until new dietary habits become second nature. We will want to weigh ourselves weekly, take caliper readings of skinfold thickness monthly, and monitor our blood pressure. But all of those things are not the plan, merely ways of keeping track of whether the plan is working.

Can you help me understand and get me started on the road to health?

The root problem is refined carbohydrates, and how our bodies respond to them, both in the short and long term. In the short term, our bodies respond to all carbohydrates by secreting insulin, which in a healthy body helps cells efficiently absorb circulating blood glucose. However, if too many refined carbs are eaten, or too often, the pancreas is overwhelmed. It cannot keep up with insulin demands imposed by easily absorbed refined carbohydrates and cells become increasingly insulin resistant, with prediabetes eventually following.

Besides switching to a nutrient-dense, portion-controlled, low-GI diet, exercise will be of paramount importance in reclaiming your health. Brisk walks several times per week will be okay to start with if you have been totally inactive. However, after you’ve progressed sufficiently, you may want to try:

  • High-intensity interval training (think sprinting or 20 sets of 20 hard pulls on the erg) a few times per week, with steady-state cardio the other days.
  • High-intensity resistance training (think heavy kettlebell swings for reps, landmine thrusters, squats, deadlifts, power cleans, and sandbag complexes) four or five days per week.

Researchers have found that even when the insulin signaling pathway is “broken,” hard exercise increases glucose uptake dramatically. It also reduces visceral fat stores and builds muscle, which can further enhance glucose uptake. Before you become a statistic, reclaim your life. Struggle, sweat, gasp, and live! Let’s kick prediabetes to the curb beginning today.