Metabolic Syndrome and Prediabetes

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One characteristic of metabolic syndrome is an increased level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. This can also be a sign of prediabetes. When you have prediabetes, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes increases. Your chance of developing heart disease and stroke goes up, too. But, you can help control and possibly reverse prediabetes by making some basic lifestyle changes.

When it’s prediabetes

Insulin is a hormone that helps cells turn glucose into energy. When the body’s cells don’t use insulin properly, you have insulin resistance. It can cause glucose to build up in the blood.

Glucose levels are measured using a fasting glucose test or a glucose tolerance test. According to the American Diabetes Association, you have prediabetes if your fasting glucose result ranges from 100 to 125 mg/dL. Or, your glucose tolerance result ranges from 140 to 199 mg/dL two hours after drinking a standardized sugar drink. The hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) test measures how high your blood glucose has been over the past several months. Prediabetes is also diagnosed in adults when HbA1C levels are 5.7% to 6.4%. (A normal level is less than 5.7% in adults.)

What you can do

Many people with insulin resistance are overweight and carry excess, dangerous fat around the waist. Often, they don’t get enough exercise. In addition, they tend to have a hard time controlling their cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. For people with metabolic syndrome, controlling these health issues is essential to preventing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Regular physical activity and weight loss can help improve the way your body uses insulin. That can help treat prediabetes and may reduce your diabetes risk. You may even be able to get your glucose level back into the normal range. The following tips can help:

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about starting an exercise routine.

  • Build up to moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity. Don’t let more than 2 days go by without physical activity.

  • Break up long periods of sitting or inactivity with short sessions of light activity every 30 minutes.

  • If you’re overweight, aim to lose 5% to 10% of your body weight gradually.

  • Eat your usual foods in smaller amounts.

  • Limit fat intake to less than 28% of your daily calories. Get healthy fats from plant sources such as nuts. Eat little fat from animal meat, and avoid trans fats.

Also have your blood glucose rechecked at least once each year to see whether it has changed.