Prediabetes: Wake-up Call for Mid-life Women

Mom and daughter hugging each other

Keeping off those extra pounds is an ongoing battle for many women. And it only gets more challenging as we enter menopause.

It’s just the way we’re made. Female hormones tend to promote fat formation. That means our bodies store fat more easily than men’s bodies. As we get older, our metabolism slows, enabling even more weight gain. And as we lose muscle mass (beginning at age 40), body fat often takes its place. As we age, we need to do more to combat these changes.

Why not let nature take its course? Because being overweight — at any age — generally means you have higher cholesterol and higher blood pressure. These increase your risk for a variety of diseases, including this biggie: diabetes.

Prediabetes: precursor of diabetes

Prediabetes occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal — but not yet high enough to be diabetes. Still, your risk of heart attack is 1.5 times higher than normal. (It’s two to four times higher with diabetes.) And long-term cardiovascular damage may already be happening.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people who develop type 2 diabetes almost always have prediabetes first. Without preventive measures, prediabetes can become full-blown type 2 diabetes in three to 10 years. This doesn’t always have to happen. Not when prediabetes is viewed as a wake-up call for adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Many people can prevent diabetes — even if they have a family history of the disease. Maintaining a normal body weight is key.

Why you need a blood sugar test

To protect yourself from developing type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, get a blood test. Blood sugar tests are as important for mid-life women as regular mammograms and bone density screenings.

Prediabetes is diagnosed from a blood test when:

  • Hemoglobin A1c levels are 5.7 to 6.4 percent
    ·         Fasting blood sugar is 100 to 125
    ·         Two-hour glucose is 140 to 199 after a glucose challenge

Have a blood test every three years, starting at age 45, so you can track your scores and offset any warning signs of diabetes right away. Start earlier if you:

  • Have a family history of diabetes
    ·         Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
    ·         Had gestational diabetes
    ·         Gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds

Lose a few pounds to make a big difference

To prevent diabetes and prediabetes, it’s important to keep your weight in check. Dramatic weight loss isn’t always the goal. Losing just 10 to 15 pounds will help. You can cut your risk of diabetes in half if you:

  • Eat a low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. Special “dietetic” or “diabetic” foods aren’t necessary. Eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, skim milk and yogurt, and lean meats. Limit soda, sweets, snack foods, fruit juices and alcohol. Avoid pitfalls like juicing and protein supplements.
  • Walk briskly or do moderate-to-intense exercise 35 minutes a day, five days a week. Not a walker? Then swim, dance, lift weights or do other activities that keep you moving. Lifting light weights and doing activities that develop your muscles can boost your metabolic rate and help your body burn extra calories even when you’re at rest.

Do yourself a favor by not hopping on the scale every day. Don’t obsess. Of course you may be slightly heavier after an indulgent weekend or big dinner. Just weigh yourself once a week and track your progress on a calendar or chart. Choose the same day and time every week (e.g., Wednesday mornings).

 Set small, easily attainable goals (e.g., “I will walk for 10 minutes once a day” rather than “I will lose 20 pounds”) and celebrate when you achieve them. Set timelines for yourself and build on your successes by adding to your goals week by week.

Lifestyle changes are critical

While there are drugs that can lower your blood sugar, lifestyle changes actually work best — lowering your risk of developing full-blown diabetes by more than 50 percent. They can help to improve your heart and blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and lower your risk of some cancers – not to mention help you look and feel better at midlife and beyond.  

  • Marry

    I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2014. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. On April 13th I found this book on
    w­j­e­5­9­2­.­com/Cure-Diabetes-Naturally.html . I read the book from end to end that night because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100, the next day was in the 90’s and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just one week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds in a month. I now work out twice a day and still have tons of energy. I have lost 6+ inches around my waist and I am off my high blood pressure medication too. I have about 20 more pounds to go till my body finds its ideal weight. The great news is, this is a lifestyle I can live with, it makes sense and it works. God Bless the writer. I wish the ADA would stop enabling consumers and tell them the truth. You can get off the drugs, you can help yourself, but you have to have a correct lifestyle and diet. No more processed foods.

    • Ez Acosta

      It pays to advocate for our own health. The standards of health in conventional medicine is atrocious. Im glad you found the path out of sickness. So much of this countries ills goes back to nutrition and clean living and food. The truth is out there.

  • Kimberly Ryan

    In 2007, I was diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia, placed on narcotic therapy, extremely active, petite, until three years ago. Cannot take Lyrica or gabapentin due to severe allergies and Cymbalta doesn’t help. I was taken off these medications because of all the studies contraindicated their effectiveness. Now I’m not on anything. I’ve gained almost 50 pounds, due to decreased activity, in severe pain, have increased neuropathy and muscle weakness, all of which are not being addressed. To add fuel to the fire, I had a brain aneurysm in 4/2000 which left me with traumatic brain injury, as well as, physical side effects. I’ve kept these to a minimum by staying physically fit and active. Because my health has deteriorated and by not being as physical, these side effects are becoming more apparent again. There is no one treating fibromyalgia in my area and I also live in NYS with the strict regulations of narcotics. I don’t fit the “normal” treatment for this diagnosis, nor do I have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, yet I cannot get help. It’s unfortunate that someone who goes from being highly active all their life, athletic, loves the outdoors, lives alone, owns their own house, used to be an RN, becomes someone who struggles to get through the day. It’s not right.