Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Diabetes
People at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes can reduce their chances of getting the disease by 58 percent if they lose as few as 10 pounds, exercise and follow a healthy diet, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (May 3, 2001). This report underscores the significant benefits of lifestyle changes in fighting the disease. The number of people having diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, is increasing nationwide. Recent reports suggest that even children are getting diabetes and it is not confined to adults anymore as it used to be. Sixteen million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the U .S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers on the study and other experts said lifestyle changes have long been known to be beneficial but they deemed the magnitude of the benefits found in the study -even in the case of relatively small changes - remarkable.
"The changes that were required to prevent diabetes were not drastic -they were just modest," said Jaakko Tuomi- lehto, author of the study and professor at the National Public Health Institute in Finland.
In an editorial accompanying the study, two experts from the National Institutes of Health said the study was significant because earlier attempts to confirm the relationship between healthful lifestyles and diabetes prevention were flawed.
It was by no means certain, they added, that people in an out- patient program could be induced to change their behavior sufficiently to produce such results.
The study was conducted in Finland. The results are applicable worldwide. There may be, however, some cultural differences.
The study followed 522 people over four years (172 men and 350 women). All had "impaired glucose tolerance," a pre-diabetic stage. Those who suffer from it cannot efficiently process glucose after a meal, so levels become elevated. Fifteen percent of the population worldwide suffers from impaired glucose tolerance, and half of them will develop diabetes, Tuomilehto said.
Subjects were split into two groups. The first group met with nutritionists regularly and received advice on diet and exercise. They were encouraged to reduce their body weight as well as intake of calories, fat and saturated fats, while increasing dietary fiber and physical activity to four hours a week.
The second group (control group) did not visit nutritionists regularly and were given limited lifestyle advice.
The subjects in the first group -who significantly improved diet and exercise regimens -reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent; none developed diabetes.
Of those in the second group - control group in which subjects did not improve their lifestyles -35 percent developed diabetes.
Healthy diet, relaxation, stress management, sensible exercises, yoga, meditation and visualization, etc. are tools at our disposal to control diabetes. Please note that the study talks about preventing diabetes. Although lifestyle changes are helpful and important if you already have diabetes, do not discontinue your medication if you are taking any. Use these techniques to supplement your arsenal of diabetes fighting tools.
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