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Your risk of pre-diabetes

By Tasha McRae

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One in four Canadians is either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Type 2 diabetes is linked to an unhealthy diet, low physical activity and higher rates of obesity and puts you at risk for a host of other diseases.

Many of our members at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic come to us because they are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Do you know what pre-diabetes is?

Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when an individual’s blood sugar levels are elevated, but not yet quite high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. About half of people with prediabetes will eventually develop Type 2 diabetes.

According to Diabetes Canada, anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every three years because many Canadians have prediabetes and do not even know it. Research has shown that some long-term complications associated with diabetes—such as heart disease and nerve damage—may actually begin during pre-diabetes.

When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. Chronic high blood sugars have been linked to a host of health issues.

Chronically high blood sugar can damage to blood vessels and nerve cells which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Researchers are now linking insulin resistance (which leads to high blood sugars) with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

A 2015 Canadian study found that 1.13% of the Canadian adult population (20+) had undiagnosed diabetes based on fasting plasma glucose levels. So, it is very important to have your blood sugars checked know your blood sugar numbers to ensure that you are reducing your risk for diabetic complications.

The good news is that exercise and lifestyle changes are very effective in preventing the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes. Once major study, The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study, showed lifestyle intervention (modest weight loss through diet and exercise) reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent. This was more effective than the reduction seen with diabetes medications.

Diet and exercise is an important part of diabetes prevention and management. But there are many risk factors that can increase your risk of developing diabetes including:

  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes;
  • Being a member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent);
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds) at birth or having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy);
  • Having prediabetes;
  • Being overweight, especially if that weight is mostly carried around the tummy;
  • Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea;
  • Having been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a doctor.

Having pre-diabetes or diabetes may not be your fault, but managing your blood sugars is your responsibility.

At LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic, we have a special program for people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes: Get to Target: Diabetes Management.

Email us for more information, or you can book a complementary Program Consultation where you can see what we do and learn more about our Get to Target Diabetes Management program and how it will benefit your health.

Tasha McRae, BHK, ACSM, CES/CET, is a certified exercise physiologist and Director of Programs and Training at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic