More than 1 in 3 American adults – about 98 million people — have prediabetes. And 81% of them don’t know they have it, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Those are sobering statistics, but the good news is that prediabetes is reversible.

People who fall into the prediabetic category should do all they can to prevent developing a disease that puts them at higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, vision problems, amputations, severely diminished quality of life – and even death. Being diagnosed with prediabetes is an opportunity for people to rewrite their future.

Joyce Eury

Joyce Eury, a registered dietitian with Novant Health Diabetes & Nutrition - Westgate in Winston-Salem, helps people rewrite their stories – before it’s too late. The condition can be reversed with proper medical care and lifestyle changes like regular exercise. We talked to Eury about the guidance she gives her patients and what others can learn from that.

Prevent, delay, or reverse prediabetes.

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Lets start with a basic definition of prediabetes.

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is higher than the normal range, which is an A1C less than 5.7%. Blood sugar that ranges from 5.7% to 6.4% is considered slightly elevated or prediabetic. In this range, your body is becoming resistant to insulin, the hormone that pulls glucose out of your blood and into the rest of your body to use as energy.

High glucose levels in the blood can lead to serious health problems. However, in this prediabetes zone, people still have the power to avoid diabetes.

Good to know. And I’m glad you mentioned A1C, which I hear about often these days. Is that the same as blood sugar?

It’s a way to measure blood sugar.

There are a couple of ways your blood sugar can be assessed. A1C is the three-month average of your blood sugar levels. When you check your blood sugar with a finger stick – that reading is just for that particular moment of the blood draw. A1C is a more holistic view.

Once a person falls into the prediabetic category, what can they do to reverse it?

Several things – and it’s all based on what the individual needs. Diet is big for a lot of people. Exercise is bigger for others. Poor sleep and stress can be factors in elevated blood sugar, as well.

Related to that question: Once youre officially in the diabetic range, can that be reversed? Or will you always be classified as diabetic?

Diabetes can be well-controlled with medication. You can also be a “diet-controlled diabetic,” where your diabetes is said to be in remission if you maintain a normal A1C, without medications, for more than three months. But you don’t remove the diagnosis from your medical history because you and your doctors would want to monitor it.

How often do you see somebody go from pre-diabetic back to having normal blood sugar level?

All the time. Most people who make needed changes in their diet, get more active or address poor sleep will see a decrease in their A1C.

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