FACT: The majority of people who develop diabetes also had pre-diabetes symptoms.
Knowing what these early symptoms are and how to recognize them in yourself can help you avoid a diabetic diagnosis down the road.
The term prediabetes is medical jargon for a condition in which your fasting blood sugar levels are higher than normal, (between 100 – 126 mg/dl) but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Blood sugars at that level may indicate worsening insulin resistance, a marker that points to an eventual diagnosis of diabetes.
The pre-diabetes symptoms described below can develop as insulin resistance gets worse over time. Because of this association, this list could also be described as a list of insulin resistance symptoms as well.
Prediabetes: More Than Blood Sugar Numbers
Most of the information about pre-diabetes symptoms comes from the American Diabetes Association and other medical websites. All these sites say is that fasting blood sugar is between 100-125 mg/dl. However, I believe that the signs of prediabetes can be spotted even without a blood test number.
After years of abusing my health with a high carb diet, I started to develop prediabetic symptoms, but my fasting blood sugar was still classified as “normal” because it stayed under 100 mg/dl.
If I had relied on my blood sugar number alone as a reason for changing my diet, I could have developed full-blown diabetes.
Here are some of the pre-diabetes symptoms which I believe indicate insulin resistance is increasing, and a change in diet may be required to avoid a diabetic diagnosis:
- Heartburn, especially during sleep; a diagnosis of GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
- Digestive issues. You get frequent stomach aches and are constantly dealing with gas pain, bloating and stool issues, cycling between diarrhea and constipation.
- Headaches and a sore throat that comes and goes.
- Breathing issues, especially at night; you may have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
- Dizzy spells, and a feeling of being lightheaded sometimes, especially after having sweets. (This indicates reactive hypoglycemia.)
- Unexplained weight gain. Your eating habits haven’t changed, but suddenly you’ve put on 10 pounds. In addition, you are having difficulty losing it, even when you exercise and eat less.
- Blurred vision that seems to be worsening, and trouble seeing at night.
- A constant feeling of being tired. No matter how much you sleep, or exercise to gain strength, you feel fatigued.
- Frequent bouts of depression for no reason. You’ll be fine, and then you feel sad all of a sudden, without any cause.
- Constant joint aches, and muscle and joint stiffness when you wake up in the morning. You may even have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis.
- Your feet burn and your toes feel numb when you stand for long periods of time.
- Swollen ankles, and a general feeling of puffiness or water retention, especially if you sit for long periods of time.
- If you don’t eat, you get really grumpy. You may also feel nauseous and shaky.
- Waking up in the middle of the night with your heart pounding. Often you also feel nauseated or cold. It happens more often if you’ve been eating high sugar meals. This again indicates hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
- Constant hunger, no matter how much you eat. You often think, “How can I be hungry? I just ate!”
- Frequent yeast infections and cuts or bruises you get don’t seem to heal quickly.
- After every meal, you really crave something sweet, even if you are already feeling full.
- You have elevated blood pressure and blood tests indicate you have high triglyceride levels, and low HDL cholesterol levels.
- The dentist tells you that you have gingivitis, even though you brush and floss every day. You often wake up with a nasty taste in your mouth, even though you brush before bed.
- A groggy, sleepy feeling after meals, even when you have plenty of rest. You may have been embarrassed because you fell asleep at your desk at work, or during a meeting.
Many of these pre-diabetes symptoms also indicate an allergy to grain-based foods, such as wheat and rye. They may indicate problems with gluten sensitivity, and many may be relieved by following a gluten-free diet.
I believe it’s possible to reverse these pre-diabetes symptoms by following the recommendations for reversing insulin resistance. This includes lowering your carb intake and adding high-intensity interval exercise to your life. You may also want to try cutting all gluten-based foods out of your diet.
You may also want to buy a glucometer and start a log so you can determine which foods cause your blood sugars to spike. Knowing your personal blood sugar baseline and the effects of various foods on your blood sugar is a good way to monitor your health over time.
A prediabetes diet can be a powerful tool in regaining good health. It involves reducing your sugar and grain consumption and learning to eat a higher fat, moderate protein diet. Yes, it is difficult at first, but it is extremely effective. To learn more about how to switch to this new way of eating, buy a good, science-based book on low carb diets and read it.
I would recommend:
- New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great. by Dr. Eric Westman, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Stephen Finney.
- The Protein Power Lifeplan by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades
- Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (Completely Updated!)
- The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carbohydrate Solution. These kinds of symptoms can also be reversed if you are already diagnosed with diabetes. Here’s an excellent case study from a doctor who is a Type 1 diabetic and saved himself from an early death from diabetes: Dr. Richard Bernstein: My First Fifty Years as a Diabetic.