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Are you among the one in three with prediabetes?

Millions in North America have prediabetes and most don’t even know it

Diabetes can sneak up on you without warning, but it can also be managed effectively and even prevented.

Millions of North Americans have this condition and 90 per cent 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 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 healthcare 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 nine 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 life- style changes, you can prevent diabetes.

Losing a moderate amount of weight can reduce your risk of prediabetes progressing to diabetes. According to researchers, a five to seven per cent 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 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.

Be sure to mind your portion sizes at the dinner table as we move into the holiday season. Here’s a more healthful version of a family favourite.

Healthy Baked Chicken Parmesan

  • 1/2 c. unseasoned whole grain bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts
  • 3/4 c. marinara sauce 3/4 c. mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut chicken into four portions. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, granulated garlic and pepper. Spray the baking pan with non-stick spray.

Dredge each chicken cutlet in the bread crumb mixture and place on the baking pan. Discard the rest of the bread crumb mixture. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and spread 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese over each chicken breast. Place back in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce is hot and cheese is melted. Measure the internal temperature of the chicken breast with a food thermometer;it should be at 165 F.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 280 calories, 8 grams (g) fat, 36 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre and 550 milligrams sodium.

Here’s a more healthful version of a family favourite — Chicken Parmesan. photo: NDSU

About the author


Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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