Did you know that you can be ‘just a little bit diabetic’? The condition is technically called ‘pre-diabetes’, and it is characterized by persistent high blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetes is a serious condition, though its symptoms may be so subtle that you don’t notice them affecting your life. More importantly, it’s an indicator that there is something seriously wrong with your body. Left untreated, over 50% of those diagnosed with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within ten years.
If your doctor has told you that you are one of the more than 16 million Americans who has pre-diabetes, the American Diabetes Association has some very good news for you. In March 2005, the ADA released the results of the multi-year Diabetes Prevention Project. In a study that followed thousands of patients across the nation who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the Diabetes Prevention Project found that patients who lost a ‘moderate’ amount of weight reduced their risk of developing full-blown diabetes by over 58%. Even more encouraging, many of those patients had managed to reverse their condition, and their blood sugar levels were well within normal ranges.
This was a result that the researchers had not expected. Diabetes (and pre-diabetes) is the result of changes to cells in the pancreas that reduce the amount of insulin that they can produce. Doctors have always believed that those changes are irreversible. Now however, the research seems to suggest that losing weight with a healthy balance of exercise and diet can actually heal those early damages caused by diabetes.
Here’s the even better news. Those results were achieved by people who lost ‘moderate’ amounts of weight – from 5-7% of their total body mass. In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds and have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, losing just 10-15 pounds can more than halve the risk of developing full-blown diabetes, and may reverse your condition entirely.
Here are some healthy weight loss tips from the American Diabetes Association:
1. Keep your diet balanced. Eat a variety of foods in all food groups, with an emphasis on grains, starches and fresh vegetables and fruit.
2. Learn to eyeball portions. Portion control is far more important than restricting what foods you eat. A ‘portion’ of raw vegetables may be considerably larger than a portion of the same vegetables cooked. There are some handy reference guides on their web site at http://www.diabetes.org
3. Add one half hour daily of moderate exercise to your daily routine five days a week. This one single lifestyle change seemed to be the key to both weight loss and the beneficial effects derived from it. It was the single significant difference between the two groups in the study.
The results of the Diabetes Prevention Project only confirm what has been the best advice in dieting circles for years – losing weight with a balanced diet and exercise is the healthiest way there is. For more information on the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.