Caring Currents

With Diabetes, Diet and Dumbbells Make a Difference

Last updated: May 29, 2008


Big news this week on the diabetes beat. You know that mantra about how physical activity and healthy eating can buy some time by delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes?

Well, how about 14 years' worth? Mounting evidence suggests that the best defense against developing diabetes is lifestyle changes, and that theory got a big boost this week from a research review in the special diabetes issue of The Lancet medical journal. 

Study authors analyzed data on 577 Chinese citizens with impaired glucose tolerance and found that prodding them to get moving and eat their greens paid off: Folks who followed the interventions for a six-year period were able to ward off the chronic condition for up to 14 years following the preventive treatment. Wow.

Need a refresher on how to feed your parents to keep diabetes at bay? The American Diabetes Association offers advice on healthy eating habits. And check out the New York Times Health Guide, which weighs in on the diabetes care and feeding front.

One  Times article raises the thorny issue of how certain carb-filled foods affect blood sugar and what role foods like soda, cake, and white rice play  in the progression of diabetes. Scientific debate aside, few quibble with the notion that favoring foods in their natural state -- such as whole grains like brown rice, or  fiber-rich veggies like broccoli, or a whole orange instead of O.J. -- can help limit unhealthy blood sugar spikes.

As you surf the Times diabetes section, take a minute to read the diet & exercise tips from registered dietician and certified diabetes educator Sherri Shafer.  One interesting tidbit: Your parents should do some resistance training along with aerobic exercise. The thinking here: The more lean muscle mass your parents have, the more glucose they'll burn.  And that's a good thing. Of course, we're talking yoga or exercises with resistance bands or light dumbbells, not heavy-duty weight lifting.

Phew. That's a lot of nutrition and exercise advice for one week.  I'm curious: Is any of this news to you, or are you already helping your parent make these changes?

Image by Flickr user Lolly Weinhold used under the Creative Commons attribution license.