According to the IDF (International Diabetes Federation), there were over 72 million cases of diabetes in India in the year 2017.  Further, the prevalence of pre-diabetes is 1.4 times higher than diabetes according to the Indian Council of Medical Research. That amounts to staggering 100 million people. The good news is it is easier to reverse prediabetes. Learn all about tackling prediabetes the Ayurveda way. 

What is pre-diabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition that in which the blood sugar is higher than the normal blood sugar level but not as high as to fall in the category of Type 2 diabetes. One can term pre-diabetes as a wakeup call to make changes in your eating habits and lifestyle, so as to not make it transform into Type 2 diabetes. Some people call it the ‘borderline diabetes’.

It is an intermittent condition. Pre-diabetes is like the Orange Light at a traffic signal. The orange light states that the person should be ready to move or take action. It is a signal to take the right action in the direction of reversing the rise in HB1AC and restoring health and vitality.

A pre-diabetic person can remain in this situation for many months or even years.

What happens in a Pre diabetes condition?

When checking for diabetes the only way that doctors can be sure is through a blood investigation. There are three ways to investigate a pre-diabetic condition: fasting blood sugar, corresponding blood sugar and HbA1c test. You can also take a Fasting Plasma Insulin test. A high fasting plasma insulin test is an accurate predictor of the likely onset of diabetes.

Fasting blood sugar again has two aspects

Impaired fasting blood sugar where the blood sugar levels will be on a higher side. 

Impaired glucose tolerance where the fasting blood sugar tests will be normal but the corresponding Post-Prandial blood sugar would not be normal.


HbA1c measures your average blood sugar levels in the past 2- 3 months. The test classifies subjects into the categories- normal, non-diabetic, pre-diabetic and highly diabetic.

The normal HbA1c levels are below 6. Pre-diabetic conditions have sugar levels between 6 and 6.4 while the highly diabetic conditions are above 6.4.

As doctors, it is believed that if a diabetic person has HbA1c below 7 then they have good control over the patient’s sugar levels.

Causes of Prediabetes

Though we associate type 2 diabetes with high weight there are about 20 to 25% Indians who get diabetes even if they have lower body weight. The reason being excess abdominal fat under the skin. This hampers the blood glucose control. Diabetes screening of people with lower BMI is also recommended.

The exact cause of pre-diabetes is not known yet, but some of the common causes are as follows:

  • Lifestyle factors and stress
  • Overweight and Obesity and
  • Storage of more fat around the waist
  • Family history

Tackling Prediabetes the Ayurveda Way

Management of pre-diabetic condition totally depends on identifying the root causes for such as condition.

In Ayurveda, it is generally the identification of prominent doshas– the  Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Though Pitta does not have a direct role in pre-diabetic conditions, Vata and kapha doshas are more responsible for prediabetes. Between Vata and Kapha it is Vata dosha that shares more blame as it controls the movement of the mind and body.

For example, if a pre-diabetic person is overweight and is stressed, Ayurveda tends to look at the root cause. Is overweight the cause of stress or is it vice-versa? When one is stressed one tends to eat more and thus put on more and more weight. So Ayurveda looks at what is causing the stress. Is it the overweight or stress which is responsible for a person to be pre-diabetic?

So every cause has to be treated in a different manner. If stress is the underlying cause for prediabetes then the solutions would be to do more of meditative yoga, pranayama, and other breathing exercises. If overweight is the main cause for prediabetes then the solutions would be more physical activities, leading a healthier lifestyle, change in dietary intake. Thus, the approach for treating pre-diabetes in Ayurveda depends on the underlying cause.

Sometimes the underlying cause maybe completely different- like hormonal issues in women which may lead to PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Other causes maybe hypothyroidism, high cholesterol or changes in the function of the liver. These causes need to be treated with medications.

Dietary changes

Before prescribing medications to a pre-diabetic some dietary restrictions need to given to the person. These dietary changes would be the same as that which is given to a diabetic person.

  • Low carbohydrate diet and total avoidance of junk food rich in refined sugar and trans fats
  • Items which include fewer calories so  as to not aggravate the Agni
  • Exercise, meditation, the concept of moving more rather than sitting at your desk the entire day

Ayurveda does not recommend medications for pre-diabetics. Even home remedies like the juice of bitter gourd or methi seeds are not recommended to a  prediabetic. By making simple changes in the lifestyle and eating habits, a pre-diabetic person can give his/her body a chance to rectify the condition.

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