(NaturalHealth365) Prediabetes – elevated blood sugar that has not yet reached the threshold for clinical diabetes – is widespread in the United States. Now, several recent studies have revealed the dangers of being prediabetic – including a heightened risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia and stroke.
Read on to learn more about prediabetes, and what you can do to reverse it.
Prediabetes is a warning sign of danger ahead
Prediabetes, characterized by a fasting glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL, is becoming more common across America. A 2016 UCLA study revealed that a shocking 46 percent of all adults in California either have prediabetes or suffer from undiagnosed type 2 diabetes – meaning that almost half of the adult population of the state has blood sugar that is too high.
And, elevated blood sugar could very well be even more widespread in other states across the nation, as California residents usually score near the top of the scale for longevity and healthy lifestyles.
For many, the term “prediabetes” seems to imply that no damage has occurred – yet. All too often, the condition is viewed as a yellow traffic signal, signaling “caution” – and possibly triggering a resolution to adopt healthier habits.
But in reality, a diagnosis of prediabetes should function as a red light, signaling a serious health threat.
It’s official: “High normal” blood sugar raises risk of degenerative diseases
The truth is: even with fasting glucose levels at the medically-accepted threshold, it is entirely possible that major microvascular damage has already occurred, ushering in heart disease, kidney failure, vision loss, neuropathy and cancer.
Studies have shown that “high normal” blood sugar raises the risk of degenerative diseases, as well as increasing risk of dementia by causing shrinkage in the hippocampus and amygdala – areas of the brain involved in memory and cognition.
In addition, elevated sugar levels shorten telomeres, the caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect them against unraveling and breakage. This is of great importance, because longer telomeres are strongly associated with longer life.
The majority of prediabetics develop diabetes
Experts say that a shocking 70 percent of prediabetics will go on to develop clinical type 2 diabetes, characterized by a fasting glucose level of 125 mg/dL and above. And, by that time, significant damage may have occurred – making the distinction between prediabetes and diabetes somewhat of a moot point.
For instance, a 10-year study of 1,800 people showed that prediabetics and diabetics alike had a surprisingly similar risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study of over 2,000 men with fasting glucose over 85 mg/dL showed that they were 40 percent more likely to die from heart disease than those in the optimal range.
And, researchers have found that premenopausal women with fasting blood sugar exceeding 84 mg/dL have more than twice the risk of developing breast cancer compared with those with lower levels.
A change is needed
Some natural health experts, speaking out against mainstream medicine’s cavalier attitude towards prediabetes, maintain that the condition should be classified as diabetes – with “high normal” glucose levels being recognized for the health threat that they are.
The very presence of excess insulin contributes to disease – with the process starting even before fasting glucose becomes high enough to reach “prediabetic” levels of 100 to 125 mg/dL.
Although conventional medicine considers a fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL to be “high normal,” some integrative healthcare providers believe that a fasting glucose level over 85 mg/dL calls for glucose-lowering therapies. Likewise, the hemoglobin A1c reading – which measures average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months – shouldn’t exceed 5.5 percent.
The research shows that optimal blood sugar lies at the low end of the normal reference range.
Warning: A high glycemic diet doubles risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers
A high glycemic diet, which causes spikes in after-meal glucose levels, is typically heavy in starches and refined sugars. Studies show that consuming this type of diet dramatically increases the odds of developing various forms of cancer. After all, glucose fuels cancer cells, and the hormone insulin can stimulate cancer cell proliferation.
In a just-published study of 4,000 participants conducted at University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center and published in Cancer Epidemiological Biomarker Prevention, researchers found that those who consumed a high glycemic diet virtually doubled their risk of developing lung cancer – whether they smoked or not – when compared to those with the lowest glycemic diet.
Since a full 25 percent of the people who develop lung cancer are non-smokers, it’s obvious that other factors are at work here – with dietary considerations and blood sugar issues playing an important role.
Natural solutions exist to stop prediabetes in its tracks
If you would like to lower your blood sugar levels, you may be able to do it with simple lifestyle changes – such as cutting back on simple sugars and starches, avoiding processed foods and reducing overall caloric intake.
Eating an organic diet high in foods with low glycemic load – such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and olive oil is associated with a lower risk of prediabetes.
And losing weight (if you are overweight) and increasing physical activity can also help send your blood sugar levels in the right direction.
In light of recent studies, the takeaway is clear. Having blood sugar levels on the low side of “normal” appears to be an excellent way to slash risk of breast cancer, lung cancer and heart disease – and extend the quality of your life.