Healthy Living

Diabetes Might Begin 20 Years Before Official Diagnosis

This study has found that prediabetes might start 20 years before an official diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Might Begin 20 Years Before Official Diagnosis

Have you felt sluggish and tired or are gaining weight in your early to mid-forties? If so, it might be good if you have a complete physical, including blood glucose levels. Studies have found that diabetic risks can be found 20 years before you are diagnosed with the disease.

Researchers at the Aizawa hospital in Matsumoto, Japan studied over 27,000 adults over an 11-year study to determine who got diabetes (the study ended at the end of 2016). These adults did not have diabetes at the start of the trial, but the Japanese findings stated that in type 2 diabetes, signs often are present at least 10-20 years before you are diagnosed.

To avoid a full diagnosis of diabetes, interventions may be required as soon as your blood sugar levels rise, or when you gain excessive weight, often feel tired, and headachy.

Japanese Study

At the beginning of the study, weight and blood sugar levels were measured, and over the 11 years, 1,067 of the participants developed type 2 diabetes. Results proved those who were diagnosed with diabetes originally had raised BMI, blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

Those with a fasting blood sugar level of 101.5 mg/dL developed type 2 diabetes five years within the 11-year study. Those with fasting blood sugar levels of 94.5 mg/dL were not diagnosed with type 2 diabetes even at the end of the study.

The study also says those with higher blood and insulin resistance levels of 110 mg/dL at the beginning of the study were diagnosed with diabetes within 12 months after the study started. A prediabetes diagnosis could have been predictedby using their blood sugar levels taken decades before the actual diabetes type 2 diagnosis.

This study was presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Berlin. “As the vast majority of people with type 2 diabetes go through the stage of prediabetes, our findings suggest that elevated metabolic markers for diabetes are detectable more than 20 years before its diagnosis,' lead author Dr. Hiroyuki Sagesaka said.

"Because trials of prevention in people with prediabetes seem to be less successful over long-term follow up, we may need to intervene much earlier than the prediabetes stage to prevent progression to full-blown diabetes.”

The study by Dr. Hiroyuki Sagesaka further states that much earlier interventions that include medications, lifestyle and diet modifications could prevent full-blown diabetes.

Diabetes Information

It is estimated that about 23.1 million people in the United States and four million in the UK are currently diagnosed with diabetes. About 90 percent of these people have type 2 diabetes, and many are overweight. Type 2 diabetes materializes when your body does not produce enough insulin or doesn’t respond to the hormone that makes up insulin, and if you are obese.

Why is checking blood sugar important? Diabetes is a severe life-long condition that happens when the sugar in your blood is too high and it can’t be used properly. If you have type 2 diabetes, you will be asked by your doctor to monitor your glucose levels at least twice a day and take the proper medications to prevent any fatal complications from developing. Your glucose levels should be 3.5-5.5mmol/L before eating and less than 8mmol/L two hours after eating. If not, your medications can be changed to achieve these blood sugar levels.

Complications of diabetes can be hypoglycemia, when blood sugar drops below 4 mmol/L, or hypoglycemia, when blood sugar is above 11.0 mmol/L two hours after eating. Both are damaging.

Hypoglycemia can lead to a person with diabetes falling into a coma. You can tell when you are experiencing hypoglycemia when you suddenly feel tired, dizzy or have trouble concentrating.If your blood sugar goes too low you can get confused, sleepy, irritable, pass out or have a seizure. You can treat hypoglycemia through eating or drinking at least of 20g of fast-acting carbohydrate, eating a candy bar or drinking a sugary drink. Hypoglycemia often happens at night when sleeping. It can wake you up, or you may fall into a coma.

Hyperglycemia or when blood sugar is above 11.0 mmol/L two hours after eating is also life-threatening. In the short term, hyperglycemia leads to you feeling very thirsty and tired, your vision may blur, and you lose weight quickly. You also need to go to the bathroom often and hyperglycemia can cause you to lose too much fluid from your body.

If you already have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to avoid experiencing hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, there are steps you can take to manage your type 2 diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar levels within the range of your doctor’s recommendations can be difficult because there are many factors such as exercise, medication, stress, illness, acute or chronic pain, and dehydration that make your blood sugars fluctuate. 

Start with the “easy” changes

  • Diet. Maintaining your portion size is one way you can manage your blood sugar levels. For lunch and dinner use a nine-inch plate. Cover half the dish with vegetables, one-fourth of the plate with meats, and the last fourth with carbohydrates.
  • Stick with chicken, fish, turkey, and beef four to six ounces. This is about the size of the palm of your hand. You can also eat one ounce of cheese. A whole piece of fruit and one piece of bread or ½ cup of pasta or rice is a right portion size for carbohydrates. Don’t worry; you won’t starve. After time, you will lose weight and feel great.
  • Stay away from sweetened beverages that contain fructose, sucrose or corn syrup. These ingredients cause blood sugar to rise quickly and include quite a few calories.
  • Make smart choices when eating out. Eat clear soups rather than creamy soups, ask for fresh fruits and vegetables, and choose whole wheat pita bread, breadsticks or rolls. Stay away from pastries.
  • Try and avoid breaded and deep-fried foods and circumvent fatty meats. Remove visible fat from meats and stay away from French fries, potato salad, and hash browns.
  • Exercise. Again the “E” word is emphasized. Regular exercise helps your body use insulin more efficiently Even a simple 30 minutes a day of exercise is excellent. Start by doing an exercise you enjoy so you will keep doing it.
  • Park as far away in the parking lot as possible from the front of the store, use the stairs instead of an escalator, play basketball, take your dog for a walk, or take a walk at lunchtime. You can also join a gym and go swimming, run, play softball or baseball and take up basketball.
  • Strength training exercises are essential for staying healthy. You can do strength train exercises with a resistance band, dumbbell, or use weights.

Staying diabetes-free isn’t easy, and you need to start by living a good and healthy lifestyle long before you are diagnosed with diabetes. Try the P and E lifestyle (portions and exercise). If you eat right in your thirties and forties when you get to your fifties and sixties and beyond you have established a good lifestyle. Most important watch your diet and exercise. Keep those pounds away from your waist; this is the best way to live a long and diabetes-free life.