Prediabetes Treatment

Treatment for prediabetes cannot cure the high blood sugar condition, but it can reverse its progress and delay health damage. Early detection plus diet and lifestyle changes can return blood sugar levels to normal and stave off a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.

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

Prediabetes is a condition that cannot be cured, but it can be reversed. Because prediabetes symptoms can return without constant vigilance, medical practitioners don’t use the term “cure” but prefer to say that symptoms are in “remission.”

Medical studies suggest that losing weight can be an effective way to help achieve prediabetes remission. Timing is important. Prediabetes is an early but serious warning sign for developing Type 2 diabetes.

A prediabetes treatment plan typically includes:
  • Creating a consistent and sustainable exercise regimen with your doctor’s advice.
  • Developing a healthy diet with the help of your doctor or a nutritionist.
  • Reducing alcohol consumption.
  • Quitting smoking.

If you are experiencing symptoms of prediabetes, ask your doctor to test for diabetes. Symptoms rarely present in patients until the condition is in a late stage, which gives patients less time to treat the condition. But there are steps you can take to manage blood-sugar once your doctor detects prediabetes.

Prediabetes Treatment & Prevention

Diet, exercise and weight loss are the three pillars of preventing and treating prediabetes. Medication is also an option, but doctors usually do not prescribe medication for the condition until after blood glucose levels reach the state of Type 2 diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a lifestyle program for reversing prediabetes, including lessons and resources to help you make healthy changes. Also, the program engages the services of a lifestyle coach and involves a support group of people with similar challenges.

The program can help with healthy meal planning, managing stress and beginning physical exercise. People who lost 5 to 7% of their body weight engage in 150 minutes of exercise per week, reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%.

Metformin, a medication commonly prescribed to lower blood sugar levels, has sometimes been prescribed for prediabetes patients. Available in generic form or in its brand name, it is in a class of drugs called biguanides. Metformin can:

  • Decrease liver production of glucose
  • Increase the responsiveness of the body to insulin
  • Minimize glucose absorbed from food

However, its use to treat prediabetes is not typically recommended for most patients. Two-thirds of people diagnosed with prediabetes don’t develop diabetes, and one-third of people with prediabetes eventually return to normal glucose regulation.

Prediabetes Clinical Trials

Type 2 diabetes is 24 times more common today than Type 1. Research is ongoing to develop the most effective prediabetes and diabetes treatment options. 

Recent clinical trials and research studies have shared interesting findings, however, it’s important to note that the findings of any single trial or study would require further research. Caution should be taken when reading the results of a single study, particularly if that study contradicts findings in systematic reviews.

For example, a prediabetes trial about personalized nutrition found that a personalized postprandial (PPT) diet was better at controlling glycemia than a Mediterranean diet. A PPT diet is reliant on a machine learning algorithm that integrates ongoing glucose levels. However, a significant body of research supports the Mediterranean diet. There are a number of clinical trials underway now to examine and compare the effects of the Mediterranean diet and other diets such as keto and paleo.  

Other studies include evaluating whether Metformin can treat adolescents and children with prediabetes. A recent University of Arizona study concluded that the liver holds the key to preventative Type 2 diabetes treatments. Several other prediabetes trials are launching, including one to determine the effects of synthetic antibiotics in people with diabetes and others that are testing the viability of new medications for prediabetes.

Prediabetes & Complementary Medicine

Some patients may be interested in complementary therapies and a number of medical practices have incorporated some into holistic care. However, some treatments can have negative interactions with prescribed medications and while some single studies may find positive results for some complementary therapies, clinical trials and further study to replicate results are needed. 

Yoga, for example, has shown promising results in helping to manage stress, which can have beneficial effects in mitigating prediabetes symptoms and complications. There have been no documented studies, however, that any herbal supplements can control glucose levels. That includes popular supplements like cinnamon, ginseng, fenugreek, milk thistle and bitter melon, which are sometimes marketed as aids in managing blood sugar.

Adding any complementary medicine options to your treatment plan should be discussed thoroughly with your doctor to ensure your safety.

Prediabetes Treatment Preparation Tips

A prediabetes diagnosis can be concerning, but collecting as much evidence-based information as you can from your doctors can help.

Here are a handful of questions you may find helpful to bring with you to your doctor’s office to help you prepare the right treatment plan:

  1. What type of prediabetes do I have? Can I reverse prediabetes?
  2. What are my risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes?
  3. What lifestyle changes should I make? And what’s the safest way to approach these changes for me?
  4. Will I be prescribed any medication?
  5. Are there safe complementary therapies I could explore?
  6. Should I see other specialists like an endocrinologist?
  7. Does my prediabetes diagnosis increase the risk of developing other health conditions?
  8. How do I approach prediabetes treatment if I already live with another chronic disease like cancer or heart disease?

Finally, many healthcare providers have additional team members to support you on how to succeed with the overall health plan you and your doctor agree on.

They can suggest nutritionists, registered dieticians and other experts in physical and emotional health for your journey. They can also help you find self-help groups related to eating, smoking and alcohol — some keys to lowering blood sugar levels.

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