If your doctor has told you that you’re at risk for diabetes – or you’ve already been diagnosed with the condition – you can tackle your disease on your own through a plan that combines weight loss and physical activity.
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All weight-loss and exercise programs, however, are not created equal. It’s critical that you get good support, says a new set of recommendations from the Community Preventive Services Task Force.
The task force analyzed data from 53 studies describing 66 programs designed to reduce the onset of diabetes in people who were at high risk for developing the condition.
They found that the programs were most successful when they had trained staff who work one-on-one with patients for at least three months. The sessions in the successful programs combined counseling, coaching and learning about diet guidelines.
Researchers say that the higher intensity programs led to greater weight loss and a greater reduction in adult patients developing diabetes.
A second chance for people with diabetes
“Patients who are aware of their high risk should see this as a second chance,” says endocrinologist Betul Hatipoglu, MD. “They can either intervene with exercise and diet, or do nothing about it and further advance diabetes.”
Dr. Hatipoglu says that people who are at high risk for developing diabetes can start by adopting a Mediterranean-style diet. Then ask your doctor to recommend a safe and healthy weight-loss and exercise program.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
- An abundance of food from plant sources, such as vegetables, fruits, breads, potatoes, cereals and grains, nuts, beans and seeds. Whole grain breads and cereals are best.
- Minimally processed foods.
- Olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, and when substituted for saturated fats, can reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
- Total daily fat intake ranging from 25 percent to 35 percent of total calories, with saturated fat no more than 7 percent of calories.
- Low-fat and non-fat dairy products — primarily yogurt and cheese — consumed daily in moderate amounts.
- Fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts – about 6 ounces each week.
- Lean, red meat consumed in very low amounts, meaning a few times each month.
- Wine consumed in low to moderate amounts, usually with meals. This equals two 3½ oz glasses of wine for men, one 3½ oz. glass for women.
“We currently recommend at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week,” Dr. Hatipoglu says. “If you can throw in some weight training a couple of times a week – even if it’s light – that is really helpful, too.”
Nine percent of the U.S. population suffers from type 2 diabetes. What’s more, 37 percent of adults are at very high risk of developing it.
If nothing were done to help those at high risk, every year 10 percent of those at high risk would become diabetic.
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