Preventing Type 2 Diabetes


Edited by: ARYA ROERIG

“Is she okay?” inquired the lady behind the cash register. “Yeah…I think so,” I replied. My grandma was doubled over, holding on to the cart, looking as if she was about to vomit. I helped her get her purse, and after fumbling around in it for a while, she found what she needed and handed payment to the cashier. I told her to go sit down, and she hunched over to an ingeniously placed and eclectically blue Wal-Mart bench. I brought the cart and her purse over to her; she was now sitting on the bench with her chest hunched over her knees. Several people looked at me and asked if she was okay. “Yes,” I replied, half trying to convince them, half trying to convince myself. An hour and an innumerable amount of stares later, I pulled the car around for her. As she got in, she confessed, “I did something bad.”

“Grandma, what did you do?”

“My blood sugar was high this morning, so I took extra insulin.”

After thoroughly explaining to my grandma that it didn’t work like that, and after having my mother, who’s a doctor, call her to explain that she could have died, I was finally satisfied that we’d gotten through to her. My grandma has type 2 diabetes and 17 percent kidney function left, a condition she discovered about six years ago. Since then, her life has changed drastically with doctor appointments, pills, dietary changes, and insulin injections.

“Did you know 92 percent of type 2 diabetes is preventable through diet and exercise?” I asked her one day after learning the statistic in a health and wellness class.

“I don’t know if I believe that. There’s just nothing I could have done differently,” she defensively replied.

After debating with myself how sensical it was to bring up a statistic like that to someone who had already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I realized that the problem was exactly as my grandma had described it. Most people don’t know what they could do differently.

According to the Honor Society of Nursing, studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by losing 5 to 7 percent of an individual’s body weight.

In a study done by the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), researchers were able to confirm this by using participants from 27 clinical centers around the United States. They randomly split up these groups into three groups—a lifestyle modification group, a group taking the oral diabetes drug Metformin, and a control group given a placebo. Group one received intensive training in diet, physical activity, and behavior modification. “By eating less fat and fewer calories and exercising for a total of 150 minutes a week, they aimed to lose 7 percent of their body weight and maintain that loss,” the study says.

The study “found that participants who lost a modest amount of weight through dietary changes and increased physical activity sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes. Taking Metformin also reduced risk, although less dramatically.” So the pill that was specifically designed to help prevent diabetes was actually less effective than merely changing the way you live your life.

The true benefits of leading an active lifestyle can be seen as you reach your golden years, as is evidenced by studies like this. The number of ailments diet and exercise can prevent is exponentially overwhelming; diabetes is just the proverbial frosting on the cake that you probably shouldn’t be eating.

This is why, despite my grandma’s love for ice cream and obsession with Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, an innumerable amount of soap operas, and virtually anything that can be watched on Lifetime, the advice I give her on love and dating is the exact same as diet and exercise–It’s never too late.

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Categories: Home, Sections, Your Health News, Your Lifestyle, Your Nutrition

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