If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you probably want to know how you can quickly turn things around, and reduce your risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
There’s no clear-cut answer for how long it takes to reverse prediabetes, but there are plenty of steps that you can start taking today to get control of prediabetes as quickly as possible.
Here’s a list of the things you should start doing immediately to fix prediabetes:
- Enlist support from your doctor, and a registered dietitian for help making lifestyle changes
- Quit Smoking, and all Tobacco products
- Minimize processed foods and excess sugar
- Eat a diet rich in fiber (fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains)
- Exercise and move regularly
- Reduce Stress
- Optimize your sleep schedule
In order to implement these steps, and successfully reverse prediabetes it’s important to understand them. So, in the following article I’ll explain each one of them, so you can start taking action as quickly as possible to reverse prediabetes.
Table of Contents
10 Steps to Reverse Prediabetes Naturally
1 – Commit to Taking Daily Actions
It’s one thing to plan out a lifestyle change, and quite another to put that plan into action. To get started with reversing prediabetes, you have to commit to taking specific daily actions that will help you reach your goal, reduce blood sugars, and culminate to reduce your risk.
With prediabetes, there’s no silver bullet. And, there’s a variety of changes that most people notice they can make. You don’t have to do all of them at once. In fact, I don’t recommend trying to make them all at once, because that can can be too overwhelming to most people.
Instead, start out by focusing on 1-2 small things you can do on a daily basis. Then, once you have those on auto-pilot, focus on 1-2 more small changes. In the long run, this process accumulates to big changes.
As you go through the rest of this list, think about what areas you can focus on, and write them down.
2 – Assemble Your Healthcare Team
In order to expedite your lifestyle change, it’s important to have a team of trusted experts. With reversing prediabetes, your primary care doctor should be at the center. They can help you manage and track your labs, make recommendations and referrals, and prescribe medications as necessary.
But, doctors don’t often have the time to provide you one-on-one nutrition counseling, or to help you implement lifestyle changes one step at a time. Let’s be honest, 20 minutes of face to face time is not adequate for addressing nutrition habits that you’ve developed over a life time.
According to the American Diabetes Association, a registered dietitian is the preferred provider for nutrition counseling, and many people’s insurance policies even cover several visits per year to see a dietitian. Contact your insurance provider to see what benefits you have available, and they can even refer you to a dietitian who accepts your insurance.
You can also refer to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to Find a nutrition Expert in your area, or via telehealth.
3 – If You Smoke or Use Tobacco, Quit Now
According to the CDC, if you smoke, you’re 30-40% more likely to develop type-2 diabetes. But, it’s not just smoking that increases your risk. Nicotine, in all tobacco and vape products increases blood sugar levels, and makes them more difficult to manage.
The good news is that when you quit smoking, your body can immediately start healing. After a year, the risk for heart disease is half what it is for someone who still smokes. And, your blood sugar levels can begin to improve immediately.
Here’s some tips for How to Quit Smoking so you can take action today.
4 – Eat a Balanced and Healthy Diet Low in Processed Foods
There is no “one size fits all” diet for prediabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, there is evidence to support the use of several different dietary patterns for reducing diabetes risk, including low-carbohydrate, the DASH Diet, and the Mediterranean Diet.
What’s important to recognize is that all of these diets tend to have the several things in common.
- Minimize processed foods and simple sugars
- Encourage high-quality carbohydrates that are high in fiber (whole grains, vegetables, and fruit)
- Encourage lean protein and healthy fats
If you want to reduce your risk for diabetes, you have to take an honest look at your current eating habits. You don’t have to change everything at once, but focus on one area you can commit to improving.
For example, most people do not get the recommended 3-5 servings of vegetables recommended per day. If this is you, maybe you can focus on increasing the serving size of non-starchy vegetables on your dinner plate to half of the plate.
For more balanced eating ideas, check out my article on the DASH Diet for prediabetes and high blood pressure.
5 – Minimize Excess Sugar, and Alcohol
Reducing added sugar and alcohol is one of the fastest ways to improve your diet and reverse prediabetes. Both of alcohol and added sugar have zero nutritional benefit for your body, and can increase inflammation.
The simple sugars found in processed foods, baked goods, candy and sugar sweetened beverages will also sky rocket your blood sugar. That’s largely because they don’t have any fiber to help slow down the absorption of that sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 24 grams per day. To put that into context:
- One 12 oz can of Coca-Cola has 31 grams of sugar
- One Oreo cookie has about 7 grams of sugar
Where do you get added sugar in your diet?
6 – Eat a Diet Rich in Fiber
Rather than just worrying about what foods to avoid, it’s also important to think about increase some foods. In particular, including foods that are high in fiber, tend to improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Here are some foods that are high in fiber:
- Beans and lentils
- Fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains
7 – Exercise and Move Regularly
If you want to reduce your risk of diabetes quickly, increasing your physical activity can be a great place to focus. And, it doesn’t have to be complicated or require a lot of time.
The activity recommendation for prediabetes is 150 minutes of moderate level physical activity per week. If you want to go to the gym, great. But this can also be as simple as getting 30 minutes of brisk walking per day.
You can even split it up into 10 minute increments if you want. Try 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes after dinner. Not only will this help your blood sugar levels, it could also help your stress levels.
8 – Reduce Stress
Stress can raise the levels of hormones in your body that increase your blood sugar levels. When this happens on a regular basis, it can increase your risk for diabetes as well as heart disease. If stress is something you struggle with daily, reach out to a therapist or at least a friend you can talk to. And when you’re feeling stressed, focus on taking deep breaths.
Whatever you do, don’t just keep pushing through your stress. A therapist can help you come up with some additional ways to manage stress better.
9 – Optimize Your Sleep Pattern
When it comes to prediabetes, people often immediately think of nutrition and exercise. But, they sometimes overlook the importance of sleep. And, if you’re not getting enough sleep, it becomes harder to control your stress, which makes it harder to control your eating choices, and control blood sugar levels.
Focus on trying to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you have a habit of looking at your phone for hours after you go to bed, set an alarm for when it’s time to put the phone down, and close your eyes. Or, even better, keep your phone outside of the bedroom.
10 – Monitor Your Progress
Finally, if you want to quickly reverse prediabetes, it’s important to monitor your progress. This is where it’s helpful to have a healthcare team you trust and feel comfortable with. A dietitian can help provide you with feedback, and keep you accountable to your goals. Your doctor can help monitor your labs to assess how well your lifestyle changes are influencing your risk indicators.
Need Support With Reversing Prediabetes?
By following these steps, you can take control of your prediabetes and reduce your risk for more serious health issues. But remember that it takes time to develop healthy habits and make lifestyle changes—so don’t get discouraged if progress is slow at first. With patience and persistence, you can improve your health and prevent diabetes in the future.
And, if you need support, ask for help. Either look for a nutrition expert in your area, or if you’re interested in learning about working with me, check out my approach to prediabetes nutrition counseling. I help clients to develop knowledge, and awareness – then provide accountability to help them take action to reduce their risk for the long haul.