If you've recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you're probably feeling overwhelmed. If you've lived with the condition for some years, you know what a struggle it is. You are, in all probability, like 80% of people with type 2 diabetes, overweight or obese, and you may not have exercised in years. The thought of plunging into a workout routine may seem intimidating, but weight loss is a natural healthy way to lower blood sugar. Obesity and diabetes are closely interrelated, and weight loss may get you off insulin and could even "cure" the disease.
"No matter how heavy you are, you will significantly lower your blood sugar if you lose some weight," says Cathy Nonas, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Excess weight is a cause of diabetes and some drugs used to treat diabetes can actually result in weight gain. While it may seem the odds are stacked against you, you must still make a full-scale effort to drop the extra pounds.
• Studies have shown conclusively that intensive lifestyle interventions including weight loss decrease overall risk of diabetes by 58%.
• According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, an increase in body mass index (BMI) is the most important factor contributing to the increase in diabetes prevalence.
• Losing just 5-10% of body weight in overweight people has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar.
• Dropping as little as 10-15 lbs of weight is proven to not only lower blood sugar, but also reduce cholesterol, bring down blood pressure, and decrease stress on joints, resulting in better sleep, better energy, better fitness, and better overall health.
• Larger amounts of weight loss (100 lbs) have been shown by studies to decrease the prevalence of type 2 diabetes from 27% to 9% after 6 years.
• The earlier in the course of the disease weight loss is instituted, the more effective it is likely to be.
• Staying fit and active, eating a healthy well-balanced diet, and being at an ideal body weight makes it easier to control blood sugar.
• Exercising redirects glucose to the muscles, which in turn brings the level of glucose in the blood down.
• Research has shown that people who have a family history of type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Weight loss is critical in these people because a healthy weight (BMI 25 or lower) reduces their chances of getting diabetes by up to 90%.
• The Diabetes Prevention Program, a major study of more than 3000 patients showed that moderate diet and exercise of about 30 minutes or more, 5 or more days per week, resulting in a 5%-7% weight loss could delay and possibly even prevent type 2 diabetes.
• Weight loss helps control diabetes in two important ways. First, it lowers insulin resistance and allows natural insulin to work better at lowering blood sugar levels. Losing weight brings down blood sugar levels and this may result in reduction in diabetes medication or stopping it altogether. Second, it improves cholesterol and blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of heart disease.
• It is not important to reach a goal weight to prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes. Simply getting your body going in the right direction of weight loss creates a metabolic environment in the body that makes it less likely to develop diabetes.
• Evidence shows that a 10% reduction in body weight can lead to as much as a 50% reduction in fasting blood sugar levels.
• Lowering BMI by 5 units can dramatically reduce the risk of diabetes according to new research. Findings show that even severely obese patients with diabetes can potentially put the disease in remission.
Weight loss could be just the thing you need to get your diabetes under control to prevent serious life-threatening complications. Start an exercise and weight loss program after a discussion with your physician. Set realistic weight loss goals, aim for moderation, and eat a healthy diet in combination with physical activity to achieve those goals. You don't have to be a spectator to your own health. In conjunction with the treatment your doctors are prescribing, take an active interest in your own wellbeing and adopt weight loss as a means to fight diabetes.
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