Eating a Mediterranean diet could have a positive effect on your health.

Diabetes or prediabetes? How to be proactive with diet, exercise

According to a recent Nutrition Action newsletter, 15% of adults in the United States have diabetes. Add another 38% who have prediabetes (8 out of 10 don’t even know it). The addition of these elements means that one in two adults has harmful blood sugar levels.

Fortunately, many cases can be prevented and, in some individuals, even reversed.

Basics of Diabetes

Understanding the basics of diabetes progression is important and the following description from December’s Nutrition Action newsletter provides a succinct summary

Insulin acts as a key that allows blood sugar (glucose) to enter cells in the body, where it can be burned for fuel or stored.

But in some people, the key cannot open the lock.

To compensate for this “insulin resistance”, the pancreas pumps more and more insulin, but it’s not enough to prevent blood sugar from reaching “prediabetes levels”. After years of trying to keep up, the pancreas begins to break down and blood sugar reaches the “diabetic” range.

The above describes the most common type of diabetes (type 2). In type 1 diabetes (accounting for about 5% of diabetes cases), the body’s immune system destroys the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin

Eating a Mediterranean diet could have a positive effect on your health.

Important Research

In 2002, a national study (the Diabetes Prevention Program, DPP) published the results of a three-year study of 3,234 people who had been assigned to one of three groups. One group received an intensive lifestyle intervention while the other groups received either a diabetes drug called metformin or a placebo.

Of note, “the lifestyle intervention group reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 58% and metformin reduced the risk by 31% compared to those who received a placebo,” according to Dana Dabelea, professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at the University of Colorado.

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