The CDiabetes News Brief: December 15 to 21, 2014

Compiled and edited by Elizabeth Klein, MPhil


Diabetes Updates

Healthy lifestyle changes can lower diabetes risk in both men and women

woman-outdoors-saladIn the US, more people than ever either have diabetes, or are at risk for the condition. We know from past research that physical activity, medicines, high quality sleep and a balanced meal plan can go a long way toward lowering your diabetes risk. But researchers from the University of Vienna in Austria wanted to know if this is true for both men and women. They looked at data from 12 studies, and found that both men and women with prediabetes benefited from healthy lifestyle changes. While other factors are different between men and women (like age of diagnosis and quality of healthcare), both lowered their diabetes risk by almost half just by getting more exercise and eating right.
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Chocolate might lower diabetes risk

woman-chocolateYou probably know by now that a healthy, balanced meal plan is a vital part of preventing and controlling diabetes. Often, when people first make changes to their eating habits, they cut out sweets and desserts. This can have a positive impact on their blood glucose levels and A1C. But a recent study from Tokyo Medical University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston might give you a reason to indulge occasionally. Researchers found that men who regularly ate chocolate had a lower diabetes risk than those who ate very little, or none at all. The effect was even bigger for those who had a BMI of 25 or lower (not overweight or obese). Past studies have shown that chocolate can also lower insulin resistance, blood glucose levels and even blood pressure. For these reasons, the American Heart Association suggests eating a couple squares of dark chocolate every day if you enjoy it.
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High blood glucose linked to worse brain health

brain-healthIf you have diabetes or prediabetes, you have probably been told that Alzheimer’s disease is a complication you should watch out for. People with diabetes are at a high risk for this serious condition, as well as other brain problems like simple memory loss and trouble organizing thoughts. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at why this might be. The researchers wanted to know if people with diabetes could do anything to prevent brain problems. They found that people with high blood glucose–whether they had diabetes or not–were more likely to have memory loss. The research also showed that keeping blood glucose under control is connected to better brain function, up to a certain point. Working to control your blood glucose as soon as you notice it is high is the best way to keep your brain healthy; after that, it may be too late.
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Healthy Lifestyle Updates

Mediterranean meal plan may lengthen lifespan

Mediterranean-mealIf you are looking to lose weight, have more energy, control your blood glucose levels, or just feel better, there are many different meal plans to choose from. It can be overwhelming to decide which plan would be best for your health and budget. Many healthcare providers and nutrition researchers now suggest the Mediterranean diet, which does not require you to pay fees or join any special programs. To follow the plan, you would just need to eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, cheese, lean meats and olive oil. A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that those following meal plans close to the Mediterranean diet may even live longer. Avoiding processed, fried foods and eating more plants and healthy fats was linked with healthier cells and a longer life.
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Outdoor physical activity may be better for women

outdoor-exercise-womenOne of the biggest problems people face when they start a new exercise program is sticking to it. Most people want to get more physical activity, but are too busy, tired or unmotivated to continue for long. Healthcare providers know that for people to keep up with physical activity, they have to enjoy it and feel that it’s helping them live better. With that in mind, researchers at the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke in Canada did a small study to see if there are any factors that help people stick to exercise programs. The study lasted three months and involved women who were in their 50s and 60s. The results showed that those who exercised outside not only felt better afterwards (had greater “tranquility”), they also exercised more. And, they were less likely to quit the program than those who exercised indoors. This may show that getting your physical activity at the park, around your neighborhood, or at community ice rinks is better in the long-term than going to the gym.
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Peer education can help people who are upset about their diabetes

stk130385rkeStress and sadness are common reactions when people are told they have type 2 diabetes. It can be hard to know if family and friends will be supportive, and it often takes a lot of time, effort and money to keep the condition under control. But according to a new study, there are effective ways to feel better and have less anxiety about your diagnosis. Researchers from the General Hospital of Dagang Oilfield in China found that peer education led to big improvements in the mental and emotional health of people with type 2 diabetes. It also helped them learn important self-care tools and understand the disease better. What is peer education? It’s a program, usually organized by a healthcare provider, that pairs a newly diagnosed person with someone who has had diabetes for a longer time, or who has a family member with the disease. To find a peer education program in your area, speak with your healthcare provider.
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