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Prairie Fare: Are You Among the 1 in 3?
By: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service - 11/15/2017

An estimated 84 million Americans have this condition and 90 percent do not know they have it. Do you know what it is?

Here's a hint: The condition occurs when the cells in your body do not respond normally to insulin, which is made by your pancreas.

The answer is "prediabetes." Having prediabetes means you have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.

Insulin moves blood sugar into your cells so it can be used for energy. With prediabetes, your pancreas works harder to produce more insulin but eventually cannot keep up and your blood sugar levels rise.

Without lifestyle changes, Type 2 diabetes could result. Having uncontrolled diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Uncontrolled diabetes could lead to kidney failure, blindness and nerve damage leading to amputations.

Answer these questions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if you might be at risk for prediabetes. Be sure to discuss your results with your health-care provider.

- Are you overweight (according to a health-care provider)?

- Are you 45 or older?

- Do you have a parent, brother or sister with Type 2 diabetes?

- Are you physically active less than three times per week?

- If female, did you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy or give birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds?

- Are you African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Pacific Islander or Asian American? (These races/ethnicities are at higher risk.)

Often, prediabetes has no symptoms. It is diagnosed by having a blood sugar test.

Here's some good news: Having prediabetes does not mean that the condition will progress to diabetes. If you make some lifestyle changes, you can prevent diabetes.

Losing a moderate amount of weight can reduce your risk of prediabetes progressing to diabetes. According to researchers, a 5 to 7 percent weight loss could stop the progression. For a 200-pound person, that amount of weight loss equals 10 to 14 pounds.

Getting more physical activity also can help prevent diabetes. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week to reduce your risk of the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.

As the cold weather settles in, we in the Midwest face a few barriers to physical activity in the winter. Consider these tips for being physically active whether or not you are at risk for prediabetes:

- Check out fitness facilities in your area. If no gyms are available, find out if a community building, such as a school, has a walking track that community members can use.

- Pick up a pedometer (step counter) as a fitness gift, or use an app on your phone. Keep track of your daily steps and build to 10,000 steps per day.

- Exercise at home with a DVD, or if you have a treadmill or ski machine, put it to work.

- If you have cross-country skis, get them ready for the upcoming snowy season.

- Use your kitchen as your "gym." Use your countertop for balance and stretching. March or jog in place. Use cans of vegetables as weights and do sets of 10 arm raises or as many as you can.

Many Extension offices, public health agencies and clinics offer the National Diabetes Prevention Program in communities throughout the Midwest. In the classes, you work with a lifestyle coach and meet in a group on a regular basis.

The program has been successful in helping people prevent diabetes, so explore what is available in your community.

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