To set the stage for how serious the rates of prediabetes is in the U.S., 96 million American adults – more than one in three or 38% – have this condition and 80% of these individuals have no idea they have it.
Men are diagnosed at twice the rate for type 2 diabetes than women. Men should take this finding as a warning to be vigilant and take preventive measures before this condition progresses into type 2 diabetes, a serious chronic disease ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
The best way to treat prediabetes is to prevent it. All men, especially after age 40, should have their blood sugar levels checked, regardless of their health.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is like precursor to developing type 2 diabetes – in other words, everyone who has a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, would have had prediabetes at some point before their disease progressed to type 2 diabetes.
The development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is a gradual process in which the body becomes resistant to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, making it difficult to use glucose for energy.
Whenever we eat carbohydrates, found only in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, in addition to sugary processed foods such as cake, cookies, candy, and sugary beverages, the pancreas has to make more insulin to get our cells to open their doors to let in glucose from these carbohydrates, necessary for energy. As one ages or has a family history of diabetes, the pancreas may struggle to produce insulin, causing an accumulation of blood sugar in the body. The distinguishing factor between prediabetes and type 2 diabetes lies in the degree to which blood sugar levels increase.
Prediabetes often has little to no symptoms. It’s the quiet, symptomless ways of prediabetes why so many people with this condition are unaware of it. It’s not until their prediabetes has worsened and progressed into type 2 diabetes – which can take years – will symptoms show up. By then, diabetes will have insidiously been causing damage to small blood vessels leading to the eyes, kidneys, heart, and feet resulting in serious complications of retinopathy, neuropathy, nephrophathy, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes raises the risk of heart attack and stroke two to four times when compared to people without diabetes.
What can men do to avoid developing prediabetes?
Men should focus on three primary things to prevent prediabetes: Reach a healthy body weight, engage in regular physical activity, and eat a nutritious diet.
Here’s a more in-depth look at each one:
- Reach and maintain a healthy body weight
Men, who are overweight or obese, can help lower their risk of prediabetes by losing at least 5% to 10% body weight. It helps to set your goal weight loss in increments of 5 to 10 pounds and when a man reaches that goal, to reset his next goal.
- Be physically active
Exercising and staying active is associated with lower rates of prediabetes. The most important thing to keep men active is choosing exercises they enjoy. Adding in a variety of different types of exercise – aerobics to strength training to flexibility – is best for heart health, muscle composition, bone health, and joint health. Activities such as golf, dancing, tennis, jogging, basketball, or yoga, can enhance a man’s health and help prevent prediabetes.
- Eat a healthy diet
There are so many ways to use foods to influence what health conditions you may or may not get. For prediabetes, it helps to reduce intake of sugary carbohydrates you drink such soda, sweet tea, fruit juice, and other sugary beverages, along with foods loaded with sugar such as desserts and sweets. Carbohydrates from these foods are quickly digested with lead to a rapid blood sugar rise in the bloodstream. These same foods can trigger sugar cravings causing overeating and weight gain.
Instead of consuming sugary carbohydrates, replace them with healthier foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and lentils. These foods contain fiber which slows the rate of sugar absorption resulting in more balanced blood sugar levels.
It also helps to eat three well-balanced meals consistently to prevent wide swings of blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate ca ncer 911.