Can prediabetes be cured?
Prediabetes is not a condition that can be cured, but it can be reversed. Medical practitioners don’t use the term “cure” because the symptoms of prediabetes can come back.
Medical studies suggest that weight loss can be an effective way to help achieve remission from prediabetes. Timing is important. Prediabetes is an early but serious warning sign of the development of type 2 diabetes.
If you have symptoms of prediabetes, ask your doctor for a diabetes test. Symptoms are rarely present in patients until the disease is at an advanced stage, which gives patients less time to treat the disease. But there are steps you can take to manage blood sugar once your doctor detects prediabetes.
A prediabetes treatment plan typically includes:
- Develop a healthy diet with the help of your doctor or nutritionist.
- Create a consistent and sustainable exercise program with guidance from your doctor.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Stop smoking.
Treatment and prevention of prediabetes
Diet, exercise and weight loss are the three pillars of preventing and treating prediabetes. Medication is also an option, but doctors usually don’t prescribe medication for the condition until blood sugar levels reach the state of type 2 diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a lifestyle program to reverse prediabetes, including lessons and resources to help you make healthy changes. Additionally, the program uses the services of a lifestyle coach and involves a support group of people facing similar challenges.
The program can help plan healthy meals, manage stress and start exercising. People who have lost 5-7% of their body weight get 150 minutes of exercise per week, which reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.
Metformin, a commonly prescribed drug to lower blood sugar, has sometimes been prescribed to prediabetic patients. Available in generic form or under its brand name, it belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides. Metformin can:
- Decrease hepatic glucose production
- Minimize glucose absorbed from food
- Increase the body’s responsiveness to insulin
However, its use to treat prediabetes is generally not recommended for most patients. Two-thirds of people diagnosed with prediabetes do not develop diabetes, and one-third of people with prediabetes eventually regain normal blood sugar regulation.
Prediabetes Clinical Trials
Type 2 diabetes is 24 times more common today than type 1, and researchers believe that alternative approaches to treating diabetes – and new research studies – are needed. Current treatments for type 2 diabetes focus on lowering blood sugar.
A University of Arizona study concluded that the liver holds the key to preventive treatments for type 2 diabetes. Scientists say current therapies treat symptoms like low blood sugar levels rather than treating the cause.
Other studies are evaluating whether metformin can treat adolescents and children with prediabetes.
A prediabetes trial of personalized nutrition found that a personalized postprandial diet (PPT) was more effective in controlling blood sugar levels than a Mediterranean diet. A PPT diet relies on a machine learning algorithm that incorporates current glucose levels.
Several other prediabetes trials are being launched, including one on prevention and management in adults, one to determine the effects of synthetic antibiotics in people with diabetes, and others testing the viability of new drugs for prediabetes.
Complementary medicine for prediabetes
Many patients seek complementary therapies to address their health issues, and some medical practices have incorporated them into their holistic approaches to care. But adding any complementary medicine options to your treatment plan should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor to ensure your safety.
Research is ongoing on the effectiveness of alternative approaches, and more studies are needed. Certain therapies, such as yoga, have shown promise in helping manage stress, control symptoms, and lessen the complications of diabetes.
There have been no documented studies indicating that herbal supplements can control glucose levels. This includes popular supplements like cinnamon, ginseng, fenugreek, milk thistle, and bitter melon, which are sometimes marketed as blood sugar management aids.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health funds research on lowering glucose levels. Among them, studies on:
- How marijuana affects metabolism and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Whether components of grape skin impact ability to control blood sugar
Researchers have studied acupoint/acupuncture, a traditional Chinese therapy, particularly on animals. Animal studies have shown that the acupuncture point activates glucose-6-phosphatase and affects the hypothalamus.
Prediabetes Treatment Preparedness Tips
A diagnosis of prediabetes can be concerning, but gathering as much factual information as possible from your doctors can help.
Here are some questions you might find useful to bring to your doctor’s office to help you prepare the right treatment plan:
- What type of prediabetes do I have? Can I reverse prediabetes?
- What are my risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes?
- What lifestyle changes should I make? And what is the safest way to approach these changes for me?
- Will I be prescribed medication?
- Are there any safe complementary therapies I could explore?
- Should I consult other specialists such as an endocrinologist?
- Does my diagnosis of prediabetes increase the risk of developing other health problems?
- How do I approach prediabetes treatment if I’m already living with another chronic condition like cancer or heart disease?
Finally, many health care providers have additional team members to help you succeed with the overall health plan that you and your doctor have agreed upon.
They can suggest nutritionists, registered dietitians, and other physical and emotional health experts for your trip. They can also help you find self-help groups related to food, smoking and alcohol – key to lowering blood sugar.
Please seek the advice of a healthcare professional before making healthcare decisions.
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