Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong, chronic condition with serious negative effects on your entire body. It can cause everything from kidney failure and blindness to heart disease and stroke, nerve damage and even the loss of fingers, toes and entire limbs. Obesity is thought to be the main cause of type 2 diabetes in those who are genetically predisposed.
It’s been estimated that as many as 79 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which means they are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as having a significant risk of developing heart disease.
Unless those diagnosed with pre-diabetes adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise and weight loss, they will likely develop the disease within a decade, if not much sooner.
A recent study led by Johns Hopkins scientists revealed that by losing approximately 10 percent of their body weight within six months of being diagnosed as pre-diabetic, those individuals can dramatically reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Study leader Nisa Maruther, M.D., M.H.S., noted that the researchers have known “for some time that the greater the weight loss, the lower your risk of diabetes.” However, she adds, “now we understand that we can see much of the benefit of losing that weight in those first six months when people are adjusting to a new way to eating and exercising. Substantial weight loss in the short term clearly should go a long way toward preventing diabetes.”
Although not all people with pre-diabetes develop the full-blown disease, without intervention the risk of getting it within a decade is substantially increased, and damage to health may already have begun.
Maruther states that her study is good news, as this means that the chance for the disease progressing to type 2 diabetes is mostly under the patient’s control. Developing it is not inevitable, as lifestyle changes can bring blood sugar levels back to where they should be.
Transforming your lifestyle includes addressing diet and exercise as well as taking steps to manage stress better, getting plenty of rest and avoiding exposure to toxins.
Diet, of course, is a huge factor. Eating plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as well as foods with healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, olive oil and coconut oil, and wild-caught salmon is a must while also avoiding the following foods:
- Processed and fast foods
- Anything with high fructose corn syrup and other hidden sugars which include, but aren’t limited to, agave nectar, honey, lactose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, maltose, malt syrup, sucrose and fruit juice concentrates.
- Oils like vegetable, canola, cottonseed, soybean, safflower and sunflower, as they can increase obesity risk, damage thyroid function and contribute to insulin resistance as well as inflammation.
- Although some health experts continue to recommend “whole grains,” they are known to raise insulin levels and can damage the lining of the gut as well as cause inflammation in the body, especially those that are found in a highly processed form. Some of the main ones to avoid are wheat, barley and rye, the trifecta of gluten, which is one of the many reasons we emphasize the need to be gluten-free as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Incorporate as much physical activity into your day as possible. In addition to regular workouts, take the opportunity to get moving whenever you can. Park your car further out in the parking lot, walk around the office every hour, perform household chores or ride an exercise bike while watching television – anything you can do to get more active will help.
Physical activity will help to decrease the effects of stress, but if you’re currently facing an especially stressful situation, you may want to incorporate deep-breathing exercises or meditation into your routine. Stress causes increased levels of cortisol, which can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, raise insulin, suppress thyroid function, decrease the ability to burn fat and cause an increase in harmful abdominal fat.
A lack of quality sleep can also elevate cortisol levels; be sure and get a good night’s rest. 7 to 8 hours a night is recommended by most health experts.
While it may seem like an overwhelming challenge at first, the rewards of transforming your lifestyle will be well worth the effort in the long run by significantly decreasing your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as the many other diseases and chronic illness that are linked to being overweight.
-The Alternative Daily