How to Reverse Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes marks the most critical time to reverse course using a medically advised plan such as diet adjustment and exercises to avoid developing Type 2 diabetes.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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Can Prediabetes Be Reversed?

Prediabetes can be reversed using medications and lifestyle changes. Reversal focuses on lowering blood sugar levels for six months or longer. However, a prediabetic person should consult their doctor before starting any diabetes treatment reversal methods. The doctor will examine them and recommend the best reversal method.

People with prediabetes are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Progression to Type 2 diabetes can occur when prediabetes is not identified and managed early enough.

However, prediabetes is not linked to Type 1 diabetes in any way. Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin and is less common than Type 2 diabetes.

Although prediabetes is reversible, there is still a risk of it coming back or progressing into Type 2 diabetes.

Key Tips for Reversing Prediabetes

There are several ways of reversing prediabetes. However, what works for one person may not work for another. That’s one of the reasons why people with this condition should work closely with a medical professional.

Additionally, reversing prediabetes is not something you should quit after some time because you have achieved your goals. You need to keep at it long term since the risk of prediabetes returning will still be there. Below are some of the methods on how to reverse prediabetes.

Exercise, Diet and Weight Loss

Weight loss can be an effective prediabetes treatment. Research indicates that losing 5%-10% of body weight can improve blood sugar levels. However, not all prediabetes or even Type 2 diabetes cases present in patients who are medically classified as overweight. There are several risk factors, and underweight patients have also been diagnosed.

When it comes to developing a diabetes diet for your specific health needs, the best option is to work with a nutritionist. They can recommend a balance of healthy carbs, nutrients and proteins to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

There is a constant balancing act in your body between storage and utilization of glucose. Too much glucose – and too little utilization – ultimately leads to increased storage as fat and weight gain. This can progress to insulin resistance and prediabetes. 

When you eat a meal, glucose can be processed by the liver into triglycerides (fat) and liver glycogen. Glucose can also be stored in skeletal muscle as glycogen, and this process is enhanced by exercise. Storage of glucose in the form of skeletal muscle glycogen therefore reduces the amount stored as fat and also increases insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the risk of weight gain and prediabetes.

Studies also indicate that regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing insulin resistance. As a person exercises, their body burns glycogen (glucose stored in the muscles). The muscles then use glycogen from the bloodstream to replenish their glycogen stores. The burning of glycogen improves insulin sensitivity in the body, which helps reverse prediabetes.

Quitting Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of developing insulin resistance. Nicotine, one of the chemical compounds found in cigarettes, is responsible for the resistance. Nicotine changes the functioning of the body cells, reducing their response to insulin, which causes an increase in blood sugar levels.

Some chemicals used to make cigarettes cause inflammation, which causes cells to no longer respond to insulin.

Even if a person has been smoking for years, quitting smoking is an effective way of reversing prediabetes. Avoiding the chemicals in cigarettes helps the body use insulin better, making it easier to manage blood sugar levels.

Staying Hydrated

Because it contains no sugars, water is the ideal beverage choice for prediabetes patients. Drinking water also helps control blood glucose levels.

When blood sugar levels rise, the body tries to eliminate excess sugars. This can lead to dehydration since the system processes the sugar into the urine, causing a person to use the bathroom frequently. Dehydration can lead to dropping blood volume, increasing sugar concentration in the blood. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration, keeping blood sugar levels in control.

Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water every day. If your urine is a pale yellow color, then you’re doing fine. If it’s darker, then drink more. Just be sure you’re drinking water and not sugary beverages.

Getting Restful Sleep

People with prediabetes need to get restful sleep every day as insufficient sleep can lead to increased insulin resistance. Addressing lack of sleep, sleep disorders and sleep disturbances have shown promise in helping prediabetes patients stabilize blood sugar.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults sleep between 7-9 hours every day.

Some of the most effective ways of improving sleeping habits and getting restful sleep include creating a sleeping routine and avoiding caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. Avoid screen time before bed if possible, and use a blue filter after dark to reduce the harmful effects of blue light from your phone or tablet. 

Managing Stress Levels

Managing stress levels can help reverse prediabetes. Some of the best ways of managing stress and ensuring good mental health is talking about how you feel to a trusted person and seeking therapy from a counselor.

When a person is stressed, the body releases stress hormones to ensure enough sugar is available. The levels of insulin fall, and the liver releases more glucose, increasing the glucose levels in the bloodstream.

These processes make it hard to control blood sugar levels. Stress can also increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

When to Speak to Your Doctor

Prediabetes screening is essential and should be part of routine annual visits, whether a person has prediabetes symptoms or not. Prediabetes can be caught and reversed before it progresses to Type 2 diabetes.

If you have already been diagnosed with prediabetes, you should consult with your medical team regularly. They will guide you on how to reverse the condition and give you tips on preventing diabetes.

Monitoring medications, exercise and diet adjustments will be essential to ensure your treatment is safe and effective. You can also request additional health information regarding your overall health and individual needs.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.