5 Essential Lifestyle Habits to Reverse Prediabetes 

Support healthy blood sugar and overall health!

By: Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC

Prediabetes affects a significant portion of the population, serving as a wake-up call for many to reassess their lifestyle choices. Fortunately, adopting certain lifestyle habits can have a profound impact on mitigating these risks. Whether you have prediabetes and are wondering what you can do to help reverse prediabetes, or you’re simply looking to improve your overall lifestyle and make healthier choices, this article is for you. Ahead, the healthiest habits to reverse prediabetes, including the causes, signs, and symptoms to be aware of.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a health condition characterized by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Think of it as a forewarning system, offering you a chance to make healthful changes that could redirect your path away from diabetes. And since having prediabetes increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, taking steps to reverse prediabetes can also mitigate the risks of these conditions too. 

While there is no magic bullet to reversing prediabetes, there are some lifestyle changes that may reduce the risk of advancing from prediabetes to diabetes.

Causes of Prediabetes 

Prediabetes can occur for many reasons, with some being completely out of your control.

For many, this condition can arise due to the body’s impaired ability to use insulin effectively, a situation known as insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas struggles to produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels, leading to elevated levels that signal prediabetes. 

Key risk factors contributing to the development of insulin resistance include obesity, especially with excess fat around the abdomen, a sedentary lifestyle, and a diet high in ultra-processed foods and sugars.

Genetics and family history also play a crucial role in an individual’s risk of developing prediabetes, suggesting a hereditary component to this condition. Additionally, age (particularly being over 45 years old), being of African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander descent, and having conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels also significantly increase the risk. Lifestyle factors, such as insufficient physical activity and smoking, further exacerbate the likelihood of prediabetes, making it a multifaceted issue with both genetic and environmental dimensions.

Signs & Symptoms of Prediabetes

Recognizing the early signs and symptoms of prediabetes can be a game-changer in managing your health and preventing the progression to type 2 diabetes. Here’s a heads-up on what to keep an eye out for:

  • Feeling more thirsty than usual: If you find yourself reaching for a glass of water more often, it could be a sign your body is trying to manage higher sugar levels.
  • Frequent urination: This goes hand-in-hand with increased thirst. Your body might be trying to get rid of excess sugar through urination.
  • Feeling unusually fatigued: High blood sugar levels can make you feel more tired than normal.
  • Blurred vision: Temporary changes in your vision could be a sign of fluctuating blood sugar levels.
  • Cuts or sores that heal slowly: High sugar levels can affect your body’s ability to heal itself.
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet: This could indicate nerve damage from elevated blood sugar levels.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s a good idea to chat with your healthcare provider for a simple blood sugar test. Remember, catching prediabetes early can pave the way for lifestyle changes that might prevent diabetes and lead to a healthier future.

5 Key Habits to Reverse Prediabetes 

If you have prediabetes, here are five habits you may want to consider adopting to potentially reverse this condition.

#1 Exercise Consistently

Adopting a consistent exercise routine stands out as a key habit for individuals aiming to reverse diabetes. Engaging in regular physical activity not only helps in managing body weight but also improves insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to use insulin more effectively. This can lead to better blood sugar control and, over time, may significantly reduce reliance on medication. Studies suggest aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, including both aerobic exercises and strength training, for optimal benefits.

RELATED: Science Says These Types of Exercise Are Best For Lowering Blood Sugar

#2 Maintain a Balanced Diet

In addition to a consistent exercise routine, maintaining a balanced diet is a pivotal habit for individuals looking to reverse prediabetes and manage their blood sugar levels. A diet rich in fiber, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats may impact blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity. Lowering the intake of ultra-processed foods, sugars, and simple carbohydrates is critical, as these can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Incorporating a variety of vegetables, fruits, and nuts into meals not only offers nutritional benefits but also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which can help in managing overall calorie intake.

#3 Manage Stress

Monitoring and managing stress levels is another key habit for individuals looking to reverse prediabetes. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which may increase blood sugar levels and interfere with insulin sensitivity. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and engaging in hobbies can contribute significantly to stress reduction. Implementing stress management strategies can not only help improve blood sugar levels, but also support overall well-being.

#4 Monitor your Blood Sugars

Regular health monitoring is a crucial habit for individuals aiming to reverse prediabetes and regain control over their blood sugar levels. Frequent blood sugar testing and tracking can provide valuable insights into how different foods, activities, and stress levels affect blood sugar. This enables individuals to make informed decisions regarding their diet, exercise routines, and stress management techniques. Furthermore, regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help monitor progress, adjust treatment plans as necessary, and address potential health issues before they become more serious. Adopting a proactive approach to health monitoring empowers individuals to take charge of their prediabetes management effectively.

#5 Adopt a Structured Sleep Schedule

Adopting a structured sleep schedule is an essential habit for individuals seeking to reverse prediabetes. According to data, quality sleep plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to increased appetite and weight gain, which are risk factors for prediabetes. Therefore, establishing a regular sleep routine, aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, and creating a restful sleeping environment can significantly contribute to stabilizing blood sugar levels and combating prediabetes.

Reversing Prediabetes With Lifestyle Habits

While there’s no guarantee, incorporating habits like regular physical activity, eating the right foods, and prioritizing sleep can greatly improve insulin sensitivity and other factors that impact prediabetes, potentially resulting in a complete reversal in some cases. Regularly monitoring your progress and consulting with healthcare providers for personalized advice are crucial steps in this journey.