Two million Australians have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but there is plenty you can do to turn your health around. So how do you know you’ve got it?
According to Professor Jennie Brand-Miller at the Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF), the short answer is you won’t. People with pre-diabetes experience blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but it doesn't come with any obvious symptoms.
However, this doesn’t mean there's nothing to look out for or that nothing can be done about it.
“There are a number of risk factors for pre-diabetes, so those at risk can request a blood glucose test which will show if their levels are elevated. Making lifestyle changes to reduce these risk factors can then help ward off type 2 diabetes," says Brand-Miller.
Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes lifestyle risk factors include:
Other risk factors include:
If you have any of the risk factors, ask your GP about a blood glucose test, which will show if your numbers are higher than normal. From here, they may recommend additional testing to see if there is a potential issue.
As well as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, being pre-diabetic increases your risk of cardiovascular (heart and circulation) disease. Diabetes Australia report without making the necessary lifestyle changes, one in three people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.
The good news? They also suggest that there's strong evidence that type 2 diabetes can be prevented in up to 58 percent of cases in the high risk (pre-diabetes) population by eating well, exercising and losing excess weight.
The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is an online weight loss program that incorporates low GI foods (which steady your blood glucose) into the meal plans. The easy and delicious recipes mean you can eat with the rest of the family, and not have to shop for ‘special’ ingredients. You can also make every day favourites healthier simply by swapping to low GI alternatives (think swapping your daily spuds for a low GI Carisma or sweet potato, or choosing wholegrain over white bread.)
“There is significant evidence that low GI diets not only decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but also assist in improving the management of diabetes,” Brand-Miller says.
She says low GI diets have been shown to:
The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet takes the guess work out of figuring out which foods are low GI and provides a range of healthy and delicious recipes and meal plans. You can also easily identify low GI foods by looking out for the “Low GI” symbol on food packaging, or you can look them up on the GI database.