It’s easy to pass off fatigue as a sign of working too much and sleeping too little. But fatigue—along with excessive thirst, blurry vision and unexplained weight loss or gain—could be signaling a larger issue that’s equally as easy to overlook: prediabetes.
About 86 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, the precursor to type 2 diabetes in which blood sugar levels are high, but not enough to be considered diabetes. The main concern with prediabetes is that it often goes unnoticed. “It’s common for people to feel perfectly normal and healthy while the disease is progressing,” Ashita Gupta, MD, an endocrinologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told Shape. Gupta adds that as many as nine in 10 people with prediabetes are unaware they have it.
The main contributors of prediabetes are a diet high in carbohydrates, especially sugary foods, and being overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, without moderate exercise and weight loss, 15 to 30 percent of those with prediabetes end up with type 2 diabetes within five years.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce risk of prediabetes progressing any further. And with November being both National Diabetes Awareness Month and National Nutrition Month, there’s no better time to get it under control. Your diet is a good place to start. According to Better Nutrition, in lieu of carbs, focus on protein and high-fiber vegetables, such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus—all of which can stabilize and lower blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, certain supplements have been known to regulate blood sugar levels:
Vitamin D: The wonder vitamin continues proving its worth. A study reported by Science Daily found that every vitamin D unit increase in prediabetic participants decreased their chance of developing diabetes by eight percent.
Chromium: Taking higher doses (500 mcg twice daily) of this mineral proved most successful in helping insulin, the hormone that regulates the body’s glucose (sugar) levels, work more efficiently for diabetics.
Silymarin: Studies have shown that silymarin—the extract of the herb milk thistle—brought about a 15 to 20 percent decrease in blood sugar.
Curcumin: Research out of Thailand suggests that this supplement—the active ingredient in the spice turmeric—may protect those with prediabetes from developing type-2 diabetes.
Remember: As Deep Dutta, MD, DM, a research officer at the Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research, notes, no supplement will be successful if an unhealthy diet and lifestyle go unchanged, which in itself can make for impactful results. If you’re already at risk, the American Diabetes Association says that losing seven percent of your body weight and exercising moderately 30 minutes a day, five days a week can lower diabetes risk by a whopping 58 percent. This might be hard work, but it will save you from a potential host of ailments in the future—so if you’re experiencing any of the prediabetes symptoms, consult with your healthcare professional and start getting healthy today.
- CDC: Diabetes Fact Sheet
- Shape magazine: 7 Silent Symptoms of Pre-Diabetes
- Better Nutrition: The Pre-Diabetes Prescription
- Science Daily: Raising Vitamin D Levels Lowers Risk of Pre-Diabetes Progressing to Diabetes
- U.S. News and World Report: How to Stop Diabetes from Starting
- American Diabetes Association