Prediabetes is a diagnosis given to the individuals whose blood sugar levels are higher than normal but have not fully met the diagnostic criteria for Diabetes Mellitus type 2 (DM type 2). At this stage, the patient's fasting blood glucose level is still within normal limits. Most of the patients with prediabetes are diagnosed by an elevated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which is a simple blood test.
It is important to understand that prediabetes and most of the DM type 2 diagnoses are more than just a "sugar" problem. What else is going on here?
Prediabetes raises a red flag for the abnormalities in human body metabolism and energy processing, which may involve the endocrine, neuro-endocrine system, cardiovascular system and digestive system alone or in combination. As part of a holistic primary care approach, it is important to examine the additional factors that may be involved. Among different individuals, the leading cause may vary. But the common theme in many of the cases has to do with aging and genetic-environmental interactions.
When we talk about aging, in addition to the common understanding of "wear and tear" on the body, there is a problem that has become noteworthy in recent years. Sometimes, what we see happening is:
Protein waste products build up in the human body over time
These waste products come from the normal process of protein degradation - a physiological process constantly going on in a living being. There is a delicate balance between protein synthesis and protein degradation. The protein degradation and remodeling processes become more pronounced where certain conditions are present such as infection, inflammation, trauma or other acute and chronic pathology.
The severe and classical examples of disease caused by protein waste products or byproducts include Alzheimer's disease, amyloidosis related to multiple myeloma and hATTR amyloidosis. With the similar pathophysiology principle, there are a spectrum of pathological phenomenon that have been under recognized. With a constant food supply and more comfortable lifestyles, we tend to take in more building blocks for the body and do not have an efficient way to recycle or eliminate the breaking down of waste products or byproducts the body no longer needs. These degraded protein products combined with heavy metals and/or other environmental toxins can create an array of health problems by "choking" the intracellular organelles-causing cell malfunction or even cell death resulting in the alteration of the histology in various organ micro-environments.
Prediabetes can serve as a warning sign for other serious medical conditions
It is an insidious process and is difficult to be recognized and diagnosed at the early stage. Effective prevention and treatment of prediabetes must be started as part of healthy aging and disease prevention before the full-blown pathology occurs. It is critical to have a good understanding of the pathophysiology and recognize some of the indirect and subtle clinical symptoms.
Prediabetes, along with chronic inflammation, brain fog, blurred vision, chronic fatigue and pain of uncertain etiology can be a warning sign for other possibly serious medical conditions. When looking at diabetes and/or prediabetes, lifestyle changes are an integral factor, and an active lifestyle, regular exercise, certain herbal supplements, intermittent fasting and healthy diet could be part of the preventive care to prevent advancement of disease.
Also, along with lifestyle changes, with this concept in mind, the important detoxification component included in holistic medicine should include not only the environment toxins, but also facilitating the body to recycle and to eliminate the degraded protein waste products. This is a multidimensional process and every organ system in human body play a different role, e.g. thyroid, kidney, lungs, liver, intestine and skin. There are various manifestations and detoxification therapies and priorities for different age groups and each individual. A comprehensive evaluation by a physician is required in order to identify the early warning signs of affected organs, e.g. heart, kidney, nervous system and lungs.
Prevention and improvement of prediabetes could be a key component in the prevention of other more serious medical conditions, such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease. NIHA has a comprehensive center and a group of integrative medical professionals to help our patients along the journey of disease prevention, recovery and improvement of general well-being and health.