Thursday, July 12, 2018

Prediabetes - Increase Your Activity Level

Note that the title of this post is not "exercise," it's "increase your activity level."

If you have prediabetes, increasing your activity level burns sugar. So does exercise. But who wants to exercise when you can burn sugar by doing everyday activities. A few examples are as follows:
  • Get off the couch and move, even if it's to the kitchen to fill up your water bottle or get a cup of green tea.
  • Walk the dog. Quicken the pace and walk a little longer every day.
  • Walk around your neighborhood (if it's safe to do so). Quicken the pace and walk a little longer every day.
  • Garden if you like it. Raking, weeding, spreading mulch, and planting vegetables or flowers will all burn sugar.
  • Got a lot of errands to run? No problem. Group them into one day when you can shop for groceries, go to the bank, or go to doctor's appointments. Walk if you can. If that's not possible, forget about finding a parking space near the door of the bank or the store. Park as far away as you can.
  • If you work at a desk, get up and walk at least once an hour. Walk on your lunch break.

According to a Consumer Reports article by Sally Wadyka,
The University of Warwick study compared people with at least one sign of metabolic syndrome—which is a group of risk factors (high blood pressure, fat around the waist, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides and cholesterol) that lead to heart disease—to those with no risk factors. They found that those who got the least activity had the most risk factors, and those who walked the most—accumulating at least 15,000 steps per day—had healthy BMIs, smaller waists, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and better blood sugar control.
Measuring Your Progress

So, you decided to increase your activity level. How do you know if you are making progress? One of the easiest ways is to measure steps. Get a simple pedometer. Keep it on your person and measure your steps.

I have a smartwatch that measures steps, heart rate, and sleep cycles. It also alerts me to text messages and phone calls. I started out with 7,500 steps per day and am working toward 10,000 steps per day.  At the right are my steps today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Prediabetes - Blood Glucose and Weight Trending Downward

This is the third week I've measured my fasting blood glucose with the Contour Next One Smart Meter, Monitoring System. I am making progress by observing a Type 2 diabetic diet:

Week 1 - 138
Week 2 - 128
Week 3 - 103

I take these readings and my blood pressure every Tuesday. I weigh myself every few days.

And in a little more than a month, my weight has dropped from 153 pounds to 144 pounds. My BMI is now less than 25.

I also have increased my activity level. More about that in the next post.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Prediabetes - More Measurements and Goals

With prediabetes, there are many things to measure. So far, I've discussed measuring blood sugar with a monitor.

You should know the your fasting blood sugar and A1c that indicated prediabetes.

But exactly what are normal numbers - the ones you should shoot for?

Here's a chart showing normal ranges as compared to ranges for someone with diabetes:

What About Weight

One of the factors contributing to prediabetes is weight. If you eat the right foods and maintain your personal balance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbs, you will lose weight because you won't be consuming as much sugar. And you will eliminate white bread, white rice, and candy, doughnuts, and junk food. Plus, as I'll explain in future posts, you will be increasing your activity levels.

How do I know? Because as soon as I started eating the right foods, I dropped 7 pounds in a month.

Here's another example - one of my relatives had a minor heart attack. His doctor recommended 2 major lifestyle changes: stop smoking and stop drinking a 6 pack of coke every day. In a month, this individual lost 20 pounds. Guess eliminating sugar works!

So what weight should you shoot for?

My thought was based on BMI (body mass index). A BMI of 25 or over is considered overweight.

My starting weight was 153 and I am 5' 4" -  a BMI of 26.3. I used an online BMI calculator.

My current weight is 146, a BMI of  25.1.

In order to fit within a normal BMI range of 18.5 - 24.9, my weight should be in the following range:
108 - 145 pounds.

Obviously, your BMI should be less than 25. But if you want an interim step to help you get to your target weight, take 7% of your current weight. The loss of 7% of body weight has been shown to result in a blood sugar reduction.

So if I lose 11 pounds (0.07 of 153) for a weight of 153 - 11 = 142 (BMI 24.4), it should help reduce blood sugar.

Next post: Increasing Your Activity Level

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Prediabetes - What You Eat

When I use the word diet I really mean a meal plan for diabetes to manage sugar levels. If you have prediabetes, you are going to eat as if you had type 2 diabetes. Maybe forever.

My General Practitioner's prediabetes education was as follows - don't eat white bread, rice, or any foods with added sugar. That's great advice, but it's much more complicated than eliminating these 3 foods. I was left with a lot of questions as I drove home after this doctor's appointment.

There Are No Accidents

When I got home from this appointment, I got online. I checked my email first. Once a week I get BookBub bargains on kindle. This gem popped up:

This book is written by a diabetic who knows how to manage her diet. It provides valuable background information about the condition. It tells you how to customize a diet plan to keep blood glucose in check. Bottom line - it's an excellent resource.

More Research

You can spend days researching prediabetes online OR you can take advantage of a few good books like the one above. Unfortunately, you won't have direct medical advice. This becomes an issue if you have to take meds to manage glucose (and some people with prediabetes have to).

And you will have lots of questions:

For example,

Should you include whole grains in your diet? It's a little difficult to completely eliminate whole grains (unless you have to) and to minimize sugar. It's better to take one step at a time.

What are whole grains?

What if you don't like the suggested foods?  I hate oatmeal and you'd have to bribe me to try a green smoothie.

What percentage of carbs, protein, and fat should I eat?

The American Diabetes Association is a wealth of information. I found a section called Create Your Plate that does just that - you make your own meal based on a database of "good" choices.

Another Suggestion

If you are truly committed to getting your good health back, the Center for Disease Control has an extensive education program called the National Diabetes Prevention Program. This "CDC-recognized lifestyle change program is a proven way to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes."

Better still, Medicare pays for the entire program.

National Diabetes Prevention Program

Monday, July 2, 2018

Prediabetes - How to Start Your Program to Manage Your Blood Sugar

So you've been diagnosed with prediabetes. Now what?

You cannot ignore this condition. Unless you make lifestyle changes, you will eventually deal with type II diabetes.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are two key factors affecting blood sugar - diet and activity level. There are other factors but these two are critical.

The Impact of Smoking
What might be as important or even more important than diet and activity level is stopping smoking. You can control blood glucose by adjusting your diet and increasing activity level, BUT according to the web site healthline,
If you have diabetes, you have to work hard enough already to keep your blood sugar in check. Smoking can make that task even more difficult. Smoking may make your body more resistant to insulin, which can lead to higher blood sugar levels. Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to serious complications from diabetes, including problems with your kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. 
If you smoke, a part of your program to fight diabetes will be a way to stop smoking. After my GP dropped the prediabetes diagnosis, she gave me a script for chantix, the Pfizer-based pharmaceutical. The drug works for a small percentage of people and it's pricey. Also, it makes me stomach sick. I'm putting up with a small dose to quit smoking.

I know how difficult it is to stop smoking. I've attempted it countless times. Now it seems I have no choice but to do it permanently.

Measuring Your Progress
(Note: Any product suggestions I make are thoroughly researched. And yes, if you click on one of my product links, I earn a small percentage of the purchase price).

How do you know if you are stabilizing your blood sugar? Somehow, you had to find out your current fasting blood glucose and/or A1c levels. These are your baseline.

You can test fasting glucose and A1c yourself. I started with a glucose monitor because it permits you to test at any time. After researching which ones were most accurate, I bought a starter kit - it includes a monitor, 10 test strips and a package of lancets to draw blood. It's cheap and easy to use:

Right now, I am using this monitor once a week for fasting glucose. That means after fasting 12 hours, I test my blood sugar (typically overnight). So far, it tracks to the medical blood test results. Note that even though this monitor is advertised as one of the most accurate monitors, it can range + or - 15 mg. For example, if I used the monitor and the result was 120, my true glucose level is somewhere between 105 and 135 mg.

So far your prediabetes program includes the following items:

  1. Eat the right foods to manage blood sugar.
  2. Increase activity levels to burn blood sugar.
  3. If you smoke, find a way to stop.
  4. Measure your progress.

Next post: How to find out what you can eat.