Two New Ways to Improve Your Odds of Avoiding Diabetes

November 22, 2011 in Diabetes, Diabetes Management, Fitness by Joyce Bunderson

Diabetes is the fastest-growing disease in history. The numbers are staggering; it is estimated that 80 million people in the United States have diabetes or are on the verge of developing it. In the face of these stunning statistics, it is amazing that most type 2 diabetes is preventable. In addition, it is estimated that ninety percent of type 2 diabetics can actually reverse their problem, says Dr. Oz in America’s Silent Killer. If you haven’t read Victor Bunderson’s story (Dr. Grandpa), in his own words (Life Style Changes Lick Diabetes), you may want to read it. I like the story on several levels; but one is that it’s very encouraging to witness a real case study – watching diabetes be turned around and maintained (over 7 years now) within my daily view.  There are many startling statistics; hopefully they will help us to take this crisis seriously; because even though type 2 diabetes is preventable and reversible, much of the damage it causes may not be reversible.

The type 2 diabetes epidemic is not going away any time soon; so each hint to avoid it is a tip to avoid the devastating effects that diabetes can have on us as individuals and families. In the past we have focused upon: weight loss and a healthy diet; ending sedentary lifestyle (at least 30 minutes per day of walking will reduce risk by 60%); and not smoking. In addition, the following two studies give us two new ways to actually do something that can potentially help us avoid diabetes.

Protein choices

Those who advocate low-carb, high protein diets imply that eating red meat is healthy. Do not be confused by the low-cab claims, nor buy into the idea that meat consumption is not contributing to diabetes. A Harvard School of Public Health study followed 37,083 men and 79,570 women trying to learn more about the relation between consumption of different types of red meats and the risk of type 2 diabetes. This study is the largest and most comprehensive study to date to look at the relationship of red meat eating and diabetes risk. After controlling for age, Body Mass Index and other lifestyle and dietary risk factors, they discovered that both unprocessed and processed red meat intakes were associated with type 2 diabetes risk in each of the groups studied.

The researchers calculated an estimate of risk reduction, showing that substituting nuts, low-fat dairy, and whole grains each day for one serving of red meat per day would be associated with a 16 – 35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This study also verified other research that suggested that red meat consumption, particularly processed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

They found that eating just four ounces of red meat daily intensifies your risk of developing diabetes by 19%. Eating two ounces of processed meat (about one hot dog or two strips of bacon) each day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 51%. Switching to poultry or fish in place of red and processed meat was also found to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Tufts University reported that Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health (one of the researchers in the just-cited study) advises that limiting processed meat to one serving a week and unprocessed red meat to two or three weekly servings would lower a person beneath the level of the most substantial increased risk. Certainly, consuming even less seems reasonable to further reduce risk.

Muscle Building

In another study reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism researchers found that for every 10 percent increase in lean skeletal muscle mass there was an associated 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% lower risk of getting prediabetes or diabetes. The researchers found that those with the most muscle mass were 63% less likely to get diabetes as compared to those with the least muscle mass.

The nice thing about this study is that it highlights the fact that you can do something to avoid diabetes – losing weight is not the only avenue to preventing diabetes. Managing insulin resistance is key in preventing diabetes, and increasing muscle mass above the average is associated with additional protection against insulin resistance and prediabetes.  If you increase your muscle mass, you will also increase your ability to manage weight loss by increasing your metabolism; so both weight loss and increase in muscle mass are a big benefit to avoiding diabetes. You might check out Mary Ireland’s blog posts on this web site --great ways to increase muscle mass, and reap the many benefits of exercise.

I hope that you won’t wait for diabetes to raise its ugly head in your life; take steps today to begin planning to manage or remodel your life-style to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.