(Natural News) Diabetes is a burden in many areas around the world. In its latest data, the World Health Organization revealed that over 400 million people worldwide suffer from the debilitating disease – a whopping 400 percent increase from numbers recorded in the 1980s. In the U.S., around 30 million, or nearly one in 10 Americans, have diabetes, with at least 7.2 million of those undiagnosed.
While the numbers paint a grim picture, people can still win against this disease with changes in their diet and lifestyle. In their study, researchers from the Louis Bolk Instituut in the Netherlands reported how a six-month lifestyle intervention program helped those with Type 2 diabetes take control of their condition. Those who completed the program not only reported feeling better afterward but also reduced their use of prescription drugs.
“Routine care setting could improve glycemic control and reduce the use of glucose-lowering medication in motivated [Type 2] diabetics,” they wrote in their study. “It provides a step in the direction of more practice-based evidence.”
A cure as old as time
Healthy eating and healthy living go together: It’s a key idea promoted by both traditional and conventional systems of medicine. For the latter, however, studies on how it can benefit even those with Type 2 diabetes are limited. An article in Canadian Family Physician even identified a “serious gap” in literature when it came to the relevance of lifestyle and dietary changes in treating Type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, traditional Chinese medicine uses both for treating diabetes. For instance, a review from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine revealed how acupuncture can improve insulin levels and lower glucose levels, while another paper published in Diabetes Spectrum looked at herbal and dietary approaches to diabetes.
For the current study, the team used a program called Reverse Diabetes2, which uses a digital education platform, coaching, nutrition and lifestyle counseling, cooking classes and medication management to gain insights into Type 2 diabetes. Over 70 participants were enrolled in the program, all of whom had Type 2 diabetes and were classified as obese, in terms of body mass index. During the program, experts explained the importance of cooking, managing stress, exercise and proper diet to the participants. In addition, they were asked to increase their intake of fresh, unprocessed foods; foods that contained healthy fats; and low-glycemic carbohydrates, and each participant was encouraged to develop his own dietary choices.
At the close of the study, the participants reported feeling better: They reported improved sleep, reduced fatigue and even weight loss. Many participants also had reduced their medication, with some even eliminating it completely. While 90 percent of the participants were on glucose-lowering drugs at the beginning of the study, nearly half of them had lowered their medication by the end of the program. In addition, the team also noted a decrease in HbA1c levels in the participants after the study, which meant a dip in blood sugar levels.
“This pilot study showed that a six-month multicomponent group-based program in a routine care setting could improve glycemic control and reduce the use of glucose-lowering medication in motivated [people with Type 2 diabetes],” wrote the researchers. While they acknowledged that more full-scale studies are needed to fully confirm their initial findings, the team is hopeful that their work could serve as the foundation for more evidence-based practice for treating diabetes. (Related: Akuamma seeds offer potent antioxidants that can help prevent diabetes.)
You don’t need to wait for diabetes to strike
Fortunately, practicing a healthy diet and an active lifestyle isn’t just limited to diabetics. People looking to improve their overall health can greatly benefit from switching up their diets to include more blueberries, oranges, fatty fish and flax seeds, for starters. They can even squeeze in a 30-minute brisk walk every day to meet the recommendations for physical health.
Even better, head over to Health.news to learn more about how diet and lifestyle affect a person’s overall health.