Diabetes and Pre-diabetes

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, although not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes usually have no sign and symptoms and it is difficult to detect. However, it is very common nowadays. Without proper management, pre-diabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes, but by changing lifestyle and dietary factors we can postpone or even prevent diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood that impairs health and may lead to some complications such as some damages to the nerve, kidney and eyes.

Risk factors

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Overweight, central obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

In healthy individuals without diabetes, insulin regulates blood glucose. Insulin sends extra glucose into muscle and fat cells and controls high blood glucose levels. In diabetes, insulin is not secreted properly or in type 2 diabetes insulin is secreted but cannot work which is a situation called insulin resistance. In this situation, our body needs help to control high blood glucose. The good news is we can manage the blood glucose levels with diet and lifestyle modification and medication.

Role of glucose in our body

Glucose is an important source of energy for our body. It comes from carbohydrate foods that we eat. Around 50-55 percent of our body energy should come from carbohydrates.

Source of carbohydrate:

Cereal, bread, pasta, rice, fruits, milk, yoghurt and starchy vegetables such as potato

Glycemic Index (GI)

Although carbohydrate foods are essential, we should choose carbohydrate sources more wisely. A Glycemic index is a tool that shows how quickly carbohydrates digest glucose and affects the blood glucose level.

High GI foods are some carbohydrate sources that break down into glucose quickly and cause a higher and faster rise in blood glucose.

Low GI foods are some carbohydrate sources that break down into glucose over a long period and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose.

Low GI foods help to control blood glucose levels.

However, excess carbohydrate intake, independent of its source will result in high blood glucose levels. Therefore, we suggest a regular and consistent carbohydrate intake (distribute over main meals/ snacks) – to ensure the blood glucose level is sustained at a level that our body system can manage.

Examples of low GI foods:

Wholemeal and whole-grain bread, oats, pasta, legumes, milk, soymilk, yoghurt, and most fruits (except melon and pineapples).

Physical activity

Another factor that helps control Blood Glucose is physical activity. Physical activity increases glucose usage by muscles so decrease high Blood Glucose levels. Physical activity also helps weight management, which means reduced insulin resistance and better glucose control.

It is suggested that adults should have 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise/ most days per week.

Weight loss

Losing weight (5–10% weight) will reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve blood sugar levels. However, weight loss should be achieved with a healthy eating plan and lifestyle modification not using commercial weight-loss diets.