A diagnosis of prediabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, but it does not necessarily follow that you will be afflicted with the disease. You can begin to reverse your condition with changes in your lifestyle, diet, and mental outlook. Various healing modalities, including dietary supplements and certified pure tested grade essential oils (EOs), can also provide valuable support.
What Is Prediabetes?
The islets of Langerhans, irregularly shaped patches of endocrine tissue located in the pancreas, secrete the anabolic hormone insulin. Insulin regulates glucose, the sugar from food that the body uses for energy when it enters the cells of the liver, muscle, and fat. When those cells do not respond well to insulin and therefore cannot easily take up glucose from your blood, your pancreas creates more insulin to aid in the absorption of glucose. Blood glucose levels will stay in the healthy range as long as the pancreas can make enough insulin to overcome the cells’ insulin resistance. If the pancreas overreacts to insulin resistance, the resulting hyperinsulinemia increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and decreases health span and life expectancy.
~ Centers for Disease Control
A prediabetic patient has glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed a diabetic, and often has some insulin resistance or a pancreas that makes an inadequate amount of insulin to keep blood glucose in a normal range. Normal fasting glucose is lower than 100 mg/dl. The test results for prediabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance, are:
- A fasting plasma glucose (FPG) of 100–125 mg/dl
- Postpandrial glucose (PPG; 2 hours after eating), or oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) glucose, of 140–199 mg/dl
- A1C (average blood sugar for the past 2–3 months) of 5.7–6.4%
According to the American Diabetes Association, patients almost always develop prediabetes before they succumb to type 2 diabetes. Since there are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, it is generally diagnosed when a patient is tested for diabetes. Prediabetics should be tested for diabetes every 1–2 years.
Modifying the Lifestyle Choices Behind Prediabetes
If your doctor has diagnosed you as prediabetic or has advised you that you are headed in that direction, you have the power to improve your health and prevent type 2 diabetes through various lifestyle changes. These include modifications that can lead to weight loss and improve your overall physical well-being:
- Change your diet. Try the Mediterranean or keto diet and increase fiber consumption. Eat fewer white, refined, empty-calorie carbohydrates and synthetic sweeteners (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup, sodas, juices, sweets, breads/crackers, potato chips/other snacks). Lower trans/saturated fat and sugar intake, reduce portion sizes, and try intermittent fasting and vegetable juicing. Drink more high-quality water (up to half your body weight in ounces) and drink less alcohol.
- Exercise regularly. Over-exercising can be counterproductive when attempting to lose weight to lower blood sugar. Aim to find 20 minutes each day to walk, ride a stationary bike or treadmill, or exercise in some other way you enjoy. To increase HGH and burn more fat, try increasing your pace as much as possible for 30–60 seconds every two minutes (called HIIT, or high intensity interval training). Weight resistance exercises will build more muscle, which in turn will enable your body to burn more fat.
- Reduce inflammation. Dietary supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin from turmeric, can be especially supportive in combatting the inflammation that accompanies prediabetes. Quitting smoking and eliminating pro-inflammatory foods—dairy, gluten (in barley, wheat, rye), nightshades, lectins (or treat foods to inactivate them)—are also critical steps.
- Attend to sleep issues. Researchers have discovered a link between higher blood sugar levels and sleeping fewer than five or more than eight hours per night. In one randomized controlled parallel group sleep study of 39 participants, researchers determined that addressing sleep apnea improves glucose metabolism in prediabetics. EOs that can promote healthier sleep patterns include lavender, vetiver, and Roman chamomile.
Studies have established that taking steps to change your personal mental outlook can also greatly improve your physical health. Chronic stress/low stress resilience and anxiety are well-established risk factors for depression, and all increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. This is thought to be the case particularly because negative mindsets are associated with suboptimal self-care. There are a wide variety of tools that reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, including consciousness management (see theavatarcourse.com), EOs (those above that promote sleep, as well as frankincense, tangerine, and wild orange), meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, journaling, and aerobic exercise.
Adding Dietary Supplements to Your Daily Regimen
A broad range of dietary supplements and EOs can address the multiple factors implicated in prediabetes. The following are just a few that have proven especially successful in scientific studies and clinical practice.
- Blood sugar: Magnesium not only relaxes muscles, reduces stress, and enhances sleep, but it also helps manage insulin and carbohydrate metabolism. In one review of 26 studies that included 1,168 people, researchers found that those with the highest regular intake of magnesium had a 22% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who regularly consumed the least magnesium. They concluded that magnesium supplementation appeared to be advisable in those at high-risk for diabetes.
Certain EOs can combat prediabetes when used internally:
- Coriander: Promotes a healthy insulin response.
- Cinnamon/cassia: Balance blood sugar levels.
- Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
- Sleep, stress, and anxiety: The causes of sleep disturbance and heightened stress best determine the appropriate remedies. Though no single remedy or combination of remedies suits all those who suffer sleep-deprivation or stress/anxiety, clinical practice has proven these to be supportive of both conditions, in some cases by lowering cortisol:
- Inositol (a sugar that supports the processing of insulin; may help balance brain chemicals);
- Ashwagandha (an ayurvedic, adaptogenic herb that helps the body cope better with daily stress, anxiety, mental, and physical fatigue, and depression);
- Melatonin (the sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland; especially helpful for the elderly);
- Magnesium glycinate (bound to L-glycine, a relaxing amino acid);
- Relora® (magnolia and phellodendron); and
- a clinically studied variety of Echinacea angustifolia root extract.
- Weight loss: Whether a supplement will support weight loss largely depends on the reasons an individual gains and/or retains weight, such as hormonal imbalances, age, compulsive or emotional/stress eating, inactivity, food addiction, and impeding perspectives on food. Berberine (compared to metformin in studies), known as an AMPK enzyme activator, is a well-studied plant compound known to lower blood sugar, balance body lipids, and combat obesity. Chromium (especially Chromemate) is a trace mineral that increases insulin sensitivity and facilitates uptake of glucose in the cells. Researchers have demonstrated that supplemented chromium lowers body weight but increases lean body mass. Studies to date have demonstrated that modifying the bacteria naturally found in the gut with probiotics can reduce chronic systemic inflammation, lower body weight, and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose and fat metabolism.
Success breeds success. Rather than trying to make the above changes all at once, thereby allowing them to overwhelm you, work on moving toward better health one step at a time. Once you see improvements from one lifestyle change, you will be motivated, even excited, to begin taking additional steps.
The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, are for educational purposes only and are not intended to take the place of a physician’s advice.
Submitted by Erika Dworkin, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®, former owner of the Manchester Parkade Health Shoppe in Manchester, CT (www.cthealthshop.com), which operated for 65 years.
Erika is currently developing Vitathena Wellness and is available for nutrition consultations and to speak to groups. She can be contacted by phone at 860.646.8178, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All statements in this article are practice- or scientific evidence-based and references are available upon request.