Taking Steps Against Diabetes

Physical Activity Key to Prevention




November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a reminder that by taking the necessary steps, many Americans can prevent incurring the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 million of us have pre-diabetes and may develop diabetes later in life. New research suggests that inactivity, along with an overly refined diet, impairs the body’s control of blood sugar levels and may play a key role in the development of Type 2 diabetes.

“We now have evidence that physical activity is an important part of the daily maintenance of glucose levels,” advises John Thyfault, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, whose new study monitored the activity levels and diets of healthy and moderately active young adults. He concluded that, “Even in the short term, reducing daily activity and ceasing regular exercise causes acute changes in the body associated with diabetes, which can occur before weight gain and the development of obesity.”

The CDC reports that 25 percent of Americans have inactive lifestyles, taking fewer than 5,000 steps a day, instead of a recommended 10,000 steps. Seventy- five percent do not meet the weekly exercise recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate activity, combined with a muscle-strengthening activity twice a week.

While regular exercise is crucial in preventing the disease, so is diet. Research led by scientist Patrice Carter, at the University of Leicester, in England, has found that cutting down on high-fat, high-sugar foods and refined grains while eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Her study, published online in the British Medical Journal, states that an extra serving of green leafy vegetables a day can reduce the risk of diabetes by 14 percent.

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