About two years ago, local Texas native, Ricky Kleibrink, went in for a check up and received some surprising news. His doctor had informed him that his blood sugar was high; he had prediabetes, and was on course for receiving a type II diabetes diagnosis. "He said, 'If you keep doing what you're doing, you're going to have full-blown diabetes,'" Kleinbrink recalls.

Ricky was living a sedentary lifestyle while often indulging in not-so-healthy food. However, just a year after getting this news, Ricky successfully brought his blood sugar levels back within a healthy range. How did he do it? By changing his diet and exercising.

Approximately 86 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This diagnosis increases their risk of developing type II diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed. Health care professionals are paying closer attention to people like Kleibrink, who are toeing the line with higher than normal blood sugars.

According to Dr. Erin Roe, endocrinologist at Baylor Research Institute, making changes to your lifestyle in the prediabetes stage is “particularly impactful.” Dr. Roe says, "When you are in that window, you still have significant capacity to produce your own insulin," she said. "After you have had diabetes longer, ultimately the beta cells 'burn out' and you need insulin."

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So what are some steps you can take to reverse this prognosis? Mary Jacobs, from Dallas News offered up some suggestions to reversing you prediabetes and fighting back against the type II diabetes epidemic:

  • Choose whole grains. Whole grains are high in fiber which slows the absorption of glucose.
  • Eat whole fruits and vegetables. Veggies contain the vitamins and minerals you need and the fiber to keep you satiated. It’s important to remember that some fruits are higher in sugar than others. However, unprocessed fruits have fiber, water, and can satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Need to find a place for fresh produce? Visit Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center in South Dallas for a weekly farmer’s market provided by the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute.
  • Drink water. Most other drinks contains high amounts of sugar content as well, as artificial sweeteners which have also been linked to an increased risk for diabetes.

Kleibrink, with the help of the Diabetes Prevention Program at his local YMCA, started eating healthier by substituting foods like pizza and brisket with fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit; he also began walking and exercising at least 150 minutes per week, and has successfully lost 50 pounds and kept it off. Making the decision to do something when his prediabetes hit may very well have saved his life. Are you at risk? Make lifestyle changes now to lower your risk of type II diabetes.

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