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What’s new in Type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment?

Update on diabetes risk reduction

The number of people with diabetes has topped 5 million for the first time. Almost all of the known cases are Type 2 diabetes. And the charity Diabetes UK estimates that another 850, 000 are yet to be diagnosed.

In the US, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put the number of people with diabetes at 37 million, with nine in 10 having Type 2.

Reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes

There are continuing efforts around the globe to find lifestyle changes that could help at least slow down the rapidly growing prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. Not all of the findings are focused on weight loss, although this is still considered within the general medical practice as being important.

Here are a few of the other suggestions that could be useful.

Getting a good night’s sleep could help with lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a recent Australian study. The research suggested that people who reported having trouble sleeping were also more likely to have a higher body mass index, as well as blood markers of cholesterol and inflammation.

Also from Australia is research that Type 2 diabetes risk could be reduced through a fasting diet with a focus on eating early in the day. ‘People who fasted for three days during the week, only eating between 8am and 12pm on those days, showed a greater tolerance to glucose after 6 months than those on a daily, low-calorie diet’ said the report’s senior author.

Meanwhile, having a glass of wine or two of wine – preferably red – with dinner might help to stave off diabetes, as the compounds in the grape skin reduce blood sugar levels. On the other hand, drinking beer or other alcohol increases the risk of diabetes.

There’s also a suggestion that drinking three cups of coffee a day can prevent Type 2 diabetes. While there has already been some evidence of the beneficial effects of caffeine, Swedish scientists are now saying that those who have genes that lead them to metabolise their caffeine more slowly are most likely to benefit.

How about acupuncture as a tool to help prevent diabetes? A study in Australia has found that people in the pre-diabetic phase who underwent acupuncture therapy saw several key markers improve, without any obvious negative side-effects.

The lifestyle NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, offered by the NHS in England, is said to have helped thousands of people avoid Type 2 diabetes since its launch. Research found that the risk of developing Type 2 was a fifth lower in people with raised blood sugar levels who were referred to the programme, compared with those who were not referred and received usual care.

There’s a useful app for those watching their carbs or trying to lose weight called CarbsandCals. The providers have just added a barcode scanner to the app to help people read the labels on foods in the major supermarkets. There’s plenty of free information on the websiteThe app is available for Apple and Android.

Turning diabetes around

Once diabetes has been diagnosed, the chances are that unless individuals can change their lifestyles sufficiently to put the disease into remission, they will end up on medication. However, research here continues at this point too.

Weight loss managed in a primary care setting could put Type 2 diabetes in remission for at least five years, says a UK study. The DiRECT weight management programme, for people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 within the previous six years, involved a 12-week low-calorie formula diet – often known as soup and shakes – followed by support to reintroduce healthy food gradually and maintain weight loss. The trial found almost 1 in 2 (46%) people in remission after a year, and more than a third after two years.


Image by Freepik

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