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How Can You Reduce Your Diabetes Risk? Just Eat Right And Exercise!

First Posted: May 06, 2015 05:40 PM EDT
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New findings presented in the journal Diabetes Care have shown that diet and exercise may hold the highest benefits when it comes to reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Statistics show that roughly 29 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population have a form of diabetes. Of that 29 million, about 8 million are undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association

Researchers at Saint Louis University looked at how both exercise and calorie restriction have positive effects on insulin sensitivity. For study groups that received both diet and exercise, researchers saw an improvement in insulin sensitivity when compared to the single-approach groups.

During the study, they recorded the participants' insulin sensitivity levels with a marker for diabetes risk that measured how effectively the body was able to use insulin.

Findings revealed that exercise and calorie restriction held beneficial effects on glucoregulation, otherwise known as the steady maintenance of glucose, or sugar, in the body.

"Your blood sugar may be perfectly normal, but if your insulin sensitivity is low, you are on the way to blood sugar issues and, potentially, Type 2 diabetes," Edward Weiss, researcher and associate professor of nutrition and dietetics, said in a news release.
"The exercise group was, in a way, our control group. It was already known that exercise can improve glucoregulation, both through weight loss and through mechanisms that are independent of weight loss," he added. "This means that even if you don't lose weight, exercise helps. On the other hand, it often has been assumed that calorie restriction improves glucoregulation simply because it leads to weight loss."

However, researchers discovered that exercise-induced weight loss did not lead to greater improvements in glucoregulation than calorie restriction alone. If this were to be the case, then researchers said they would expect that a combination of exercise and calorie restriction would result in improved glucoregulation than with other groups. 

"On the surface it may seem obvious, and yet there are a lot of people who believe that if they maintain a healthy weight, it doesn't matter what they eat," Weiss concluded. "This study says you can be healthier if you exercise and eat the right amount of food. There is more to be gained by including both approaches in your life."

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