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Dodging Diabetes

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The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980 to a mind-numbing 347 million, officially making it a global epidemic. But believe it or not, there's good news about diabetes: There are a number of ways to combat and even outright prevent this growing disease.

As the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes costs the nation $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 79 million Americans – one-third of the nation's adult population – has prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated, raising a person's risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In fact, according to research, having diabetes increases the risk of death from all causes. For example, in examining data involving 820,900 subjects enrolled in 97 published studies, John Danesh, from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), and colleagues found that high fasting blood sugar levels ( >100 mg/dL) not only doubles vascular death risk, but also substantially raises the risk of death from nonvascular causes, including cancer and infectious diseases. Subjects with diabetes were 80 percent more likely to die from any cause during the study period. The researchers found that diabetics were at 2.32-fold higher adjusted risk of death from vascular causes, as compared to nondiabetic counterparts; and at significantly elevated risk of death from cancer and other non-vascular, noncancer causes including pneumonia and other infectious diseases, mental disorders, nervous system disorders, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing aging-related diseases. Men and women in their 50s with diabetes have nearly double the risk for developing cognitive impairment, incontinence, falls, dizziness, vision impairment and chronic pain compared to same-age counterparts who do not have diabetes. Because diabetes affects multiple organ systems, it has the potential to contribute significantly to the development of a number of health issues that we associate with aging.

Today, nondrug interventions such as nutritional supplementation, smart dietary choices, and lifestyle changes are becoming more widely recognized as key approaches to reduce the risk of diabetes and/or manage the condition if you've developed it. Let's review some of these strategies and help ensure a healthier, happier, diabetes-free you.

More Magnesium Matters

While magnesium is found in dietary sources such as green leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains, nuts and milk, a number of surveys suggest that many adults fail to consume the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for this essential mineral. Frank Christoph Mooren, from the Institute of Sport Sciences at the Justus-Liebig University (Germany), and colleagues enrolled 52 men and women in a study in which each received either a magnesium supplement (containing magnesium-aspartate-hydrochloride at a dose of 365 mg per day) or placebo for six months. At the study's conclusion, the team found that two out of three measures of insulin sensitivity had improved significantly in those receiving the supplemental magnesium compared to the placebo group, and blood sugar levels, measured as fasting levels of glucose in the blood, had improved by about 7 percent in the magnesium-supplemented group compared with placebo.

Grab Some Grapes

A daily dose of the polyphenol resveratrol (found in purple grapes, red wine, peanuts and some berries) may prove useful in the treatment and/or prevention of type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Hungary's University of Pecs studied 19 people with type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to take resveratrol supplements (10 mg/day) or a placebo for four weeks. Results showed that insulin resistance decreased significantly in the participants who received the resveratrol.

Walking Helps

Previously sedentary middle-aged men and women who walked 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) daily demonstrated marked improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Terry Dwyer, from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (Australia), and colleagues investigated the relationship between daily step count and both adiposity (obesity) and insulin sensitivity. The team studied 592 non-diabetic adult men and women, average age 50-51 years at the study's start, for a five-year period. Many participants were already overweight (57.4 percent of men, 36.9 percent of women) or obese (17.7 percent of men, 16.0 percent of women) at the outset and then gained additional weight over the five-year study period.

During the study period, most subjects became more sedentary as well, with 65 percent showing a decline in step counts. The researchers found that sedentary individuals who changed their habits to walk an extra 2,000 steps (about 1 mile) a day might expect to shave 0.16 kg/m

2 off their body mass index (BMI) and boost insulin sensitivity by 2.76 units. Further, a relatively inactive person who achieves 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) per day could expect their BMI to drop 0.83 kg/m2 and their insulin sensitivity to rise 13.85 units – a 12.8 percent increase from the average for men and 11.5 percent for women. The team calculated that sedentary individuals who reach 10,000 steps per day might improve their insulin sensitivity threefold compared with increasing daily activity to 3,000 steps five days a week.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 19:51