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: June 22, 2022
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Can Prediabetes Be Cured?

Prediabetes is not a condition that can be cured, but it can be reversed. Medical practitioners don’t use the term “cure” because prediabetes symptoms can return.

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.

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.

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

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

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, and researchers believe alternative approaches to diabetes treatment — and new research studies — are needed. Current treatments for type 2 diabetes are focused on lowering blood glucose.

One University of Arizona study concluded that the liver holds the key to preventative Type 2 diabetes treatments. Scientists say current therapeutics treat symptoms like lowering blood glucose rather than treating the cause.

Other studies include evaluating whether Metformin can treat adolescents and children with prediabetes.

One 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.

Several other prediabetes trials are launching, including one about prevention and management in adults, 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

Many patients seek complementary therapies in addressing their health concerns, and some medical practices have incorporated them into their holistic approaches to care. But adding any complementary medicine options to your treatment plan should be discussed thoroughly with your doctor to ensure your safety.

Research is ongoing into the effectiveness of alternative approaches, and more study is needed. Some therapies, such as yoga, have shown promising results in helping to manage stress, control symptoms and mitigate complications of diabetes.

There have been no documented studies 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.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is funding research on lowering glucose levels. Among them are studies about:
  • How marijuana affects the metabolism and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
  • If the components of grape skin have an impact on the ability to control blood sugar

Researchers have studied acupoint/acupuncture, a traditional Chinese therapy, particularly on animals. Animal studies found that acupoint activated glucose-6-phosphatase and affected the hypothalamus.

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.
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