Published on November 22, 2021

Understanding Pre-Diabetes

Dr. Komal Motwani
Dr. Komal Motwani

November is celebrated as National Diabetes Month. It brings us all an opportunity to reflect upon our risk of diabetes, work towards its prevention, raise awareness, and support those affected by it.

Diabetes can be life-changing. While lifestyle modification can broadly impact the risk and management of diabetes, the genetic risk of the disease cannot be disregarded. When one has the propensity of diabetes in the family, as suggested by first-degree relatives being impacted by the disease, it increases the risk of acquiring diabetes at some point in life. As such, a healthy lifestyle becomes more important to delay the acquisition and progression of the disease.

Pre-diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to maintain the blood sugars in the normal range, and yet they are not frankly elevated as in diabetes. Pre-diabetes must be taken seriously. Active management of pre-diabetes can delay the progression of diabetes and dependence on multiple medications to control it.

Focus on a high fiber, low fat, and low carbohydrate diet. Using a plate method whereby one fills half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with lean proteins, and one quarter with carbohydrates can provide a balanced diet. Importantly, keeping a check on liquid calorie intake throughout the day can make a stark difference in the number of calories and sugar consumed. Processed or refined foods should be avoided, as well as sugar substituted or diet drinks, as they can raise blood sugars. 

Staying active is another essential aspect of diabetes prevention. Being creative at every age to accommodate activity in whichever way possible is vital to staying fit. As noted in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “If you can’t run, then walk…," if unable to walk, then standing is recommended, and if not possible to do so, moving arms and legs while sitting is better than being sedentary throughout the day. Even a few minutes of activity throughout the day can add up and help achieve the daily activity goal. Standing alone can burn 40-70 more calories per hour than sitting, and should be consciously incorporated during inactive hours such as while using a computer, watching TV, etc. 

Sleep and stress are two other often-ignored aspects of life. Adequate sleep around eight hours a day and practicing good sleep hygiene (sleeping and waking around the same time every day, not associating place of sleep with activity or wakefulness, avoiding day naps, etc.) can energize the day. Practicing relaxing activities such as meditation, yoga, and music can help de-stress and ease the mind and body. 

If you are concerned about diabetes or pre-diabetes, you can contact your healthcare provider, who can offer you lifestyle coaching and medications needed to delay the progression of diabetes. Together we can do it!

Call 1-844-735-8864 for assistance with managing your diabetes with the help of a UNC Health Southeastern primary care provider who can refer to an endocrinologist or diabetes educator if needed.

Dr. Komal Motwani specializes in endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and obesity medicine at UNC Health Southeastern’s Southeastern Medical Specialists clinic.