What is Impaired Glucose Tolerance?

Impaired Glucose Tolerance, also known as Pre-Diabetes, or Impaired Fasting Glucose, is the condition where your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but are not yet high enough to be diabetes. Basically, it’s a window of opportunity to make some serious lifestyle changes before you develop diabetes. It is estimated that 16% of Australians over the age of 25 have pre-diabetes, and are heading towards developing diabetes in the next 5 to 10 years.

What causes Impaired Glucose Tolerance?

When foods containing carbohydrate are eaten the carbohydrate is converted to glucose and enters the bloodstream. As the blood glucose levels (BGLs) rise a hormone called insulin is released. Insulin helps to carry the glucose from the blood stream into the body’s cells to provide them with energy. The BGLs then return to normal levels.
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) is a pre diabetic condition detected through an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. It occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body or the insulin may not work properly so the BGLs remain high and do not return to a normal level. The BGLs are higher than normal but still below the level for diabetes. A person is diagnosed with IGT when their fasting BGL is less than 7.0 mmol/L and their BGL 2 hours after having a glucose drink is between 7.8 and 11.0 mmol/L.

Risk factors

The risk factors for IGT include:
Family history of type 2 diabetes
Overweight or obesity
High blood pressure/cholesterol
Cardiovascular disease
Indigenous Australian or Torres Strait Islanders
People from certain ethnic backgrounds including Middle Eastern, South Asian, Pacific Islander North African
Gestational diabetes
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

How is IGT Treated?

Weight Loss

If you’re overweight, losing just 5-10% of your body weight can improve your IGT. But, to avoid IGT coming back, it is important that you keep the weight off, so make sure that that make sustainable dietary and physical activity changes.

Improving your waist circumference

Fat around your waist is particularly bad for people with IGT as it means that there is fat over your organs. Try to reduce your waist circumference by decreasing your kilojoule intake, increasing your physical activity levels and decreasing your stress levels.

Carbohydrate intake

Having large portions of carbohydrate foods, make your pancreas work harder to produce more insulin. Avoid having large portions of carbohydrate foods.

Choose low Glycemic Index foods

Choosing foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI) means that your body doesn’t have to produce as much insulin as quickly as the carbohydrates break down more slowly. Look for foods which have a lower Glycemic Index.

Physical activity

Physical activity burns excess carbohydrates, so undertaking 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day helps to reduce the amount of insulin that your body needs to produce.