Obviously, diabetes is a major health issue in our country, but most people who are diagnosed with it are given a warning notice sometimes years before it becomes full blown. This warning, known as prediabetes, is commonly ignored or downplayed by patients and medical personnel.
According to the CDC, about 96 million American adults (about 1 in 3) have prediabetes, but only 2 out of 10 of those people are aware they have it. Prediabetes is defined as a fasting blood sugar which is higher than normal value, but not high enough to be considered true diabetes Type 2. Hemoglobin A1C levels are between 5.7 and 6.4%. The risk factors for prediabetes are generally the same as for Type 2 diabetes, but the condition has yet to progress to full blown disease. These major risk factors include being overweight, eating excessive red meat or processed meat, excessive sugar sweetened beverages, low levels of activity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides with low levels of HDL (good cholesterol). These factors are well known and patients are usually encouraged to change their lifestyles with varying degrees of success. But another less well-known risk factor is chronic stress.
Stress can cause or aggravate prediabetes through the mechanism of elevated cortisol. The high cortisol has many effects including that it causes large amounts of glucose to be released from storage into the bloodstream. In an acute stress situation the glucose is burned in a relatively short period of time, but in chronic stress situations which might last weeks, months, or even years, the extra cortisol can cause glucose to be elevated for those same lengths of time. Chronic stress can be managed through several stress reduction techniques and various supplements including adaptogenic herbs.
Multiple studies have shown that the lifestyle interventions commonly recommended for patients with prediabetes are effective in lowering and/or delaying the incidence of full blown Type 2 diabetes in patients with prediabetes. For those patients who have chronic stress in their lives, consider this additional intervention.