Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes: does diet and exercise work?


As a physician, I see lots of people who are pre-diabetic, or have type 2 diabetes.  (Type 2 used to be called adult onset diabetes.)  What helps prevent diabetes, or manage diabetes?


The number one thing to prevent type 2 diabetes is to lose weight.  It appears it doesn’t matter what diet  you follow, just lose weight.  The Journal of Education and Health Promotion published a review of what works, and, to be honest, I found it a bit puzzling.  In one paragraph, the author states, “consumption of fat primarily from foods high in unsaturated fatty acids, and encourages daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products and whole grains, low consumption of fish, poultry, tree nuts, legumes, very less consumption of red meat.” However, just a few sentences down, the author comments, “a paleolithic diet (i.e., a diet consisting of lean meat, fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables, roots, eggs and nuts, but not grains, dairy products, salt or refined fats, and sugar) was associated with marked improvement of glucose tolerance.”  What the heck does that mean?

What it means, is that just lose the weight! I think this biggest danger is eating processed foods. I also think the best plans is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, lots of fiber and lean protein.


Now, what about exercise?  A second study looked at exercise.  The conclusion was that more exercise is better, with a minimum of 150 minutes per week. Seven years after starting the diet/exercise program, those that were in the study group had reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 43%.

The bottom line: eat veggies, fruit, high fiber, “good fats”, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods. Exercise minimum 150 minutes per week.

This is a marathon, not a sprint, so persistence is key!

PS: to view the studies, click the links.


Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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