You probably already know that both physical activity and healthy eating habits are important if you want to lose weight and control your diabetes. But a new study shows that when you begin healthy lifestyle changes can be just as important. Researchers tested 38 adults with a condition called Metabolic Syndrome (which includes problems like high blood pressure, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes) to see how they improved over a year on a healthy lifestyle program. Those that began a physical activity program before changing their eating habits lost less muscle mass and more fat, making them healthier overall.
The billions of bacteria that live in your intestines help you digest food, fight off infections, and keep you healthy. This is why scientists think it’s best to have a wide variety of them in your gut. A recent study has shown that many people who are obese or have type 2 diabetes might have lower amounts of certain important gut bacteria. Both groups of patients had lower levels of 3 different types of bacteria than healthy people. Researchers say that this shows a clear connection between obesity, diabetes, and changes in the population of a person’s gut bacteria. This research might lead to exciting new treatments for these complex diseases in the future.
Pollution might lead to obesity and diabetes
Certain kinds of polluting chemicals might be partly to blame for rising obesity and diabetes rates. Called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), these chemicals do not break down in the environment and can even be found in food. In a recent study, people were tested for POPs, obesity, and high blood glucose. Those with high blood glucose levels and excess weight had, on average, the highest levels of POPs in their bodies. Type 2 diabetes and large amounts of belly fat in obese people show an especially strong connection to POPs.
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Eating more fruit and vegetables not enough to help weight loss
Most healthcare providers will say that it’s healthy to eat 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day, but a recent study has shown that this alone is not enough to help you lose weight. Information from 7 different studies shows that people who were told to eat more fruit and vegetable struggled to lose any weight, because they were simply adding these on top of their regular meal plan. While this did not cause them to gain more weight, it also did not cause them to lose any. Researchers say that weight loss diets are most effective when fruit and vegetables replace less healthy foods.
How children and their parents behave during mealtimes could have a big impact on how well they manage their diabetes. A study of children with type 1 diabetes and their parents tried to find out how well-behaved both groups were during meals, and what effect this has on blood glucose levels. The results show that children who behave in negative ways usually have poorer control over their blood glucose, compared to those who have fewer behavioral problems. This is also true for parents. Those who don’t do as well as others in controlling their child’s illness also show more problem behaviors.
Losing weight can be difficult for many people, especially those with diabetes. But if you’re looking for supplements at the health food store to help your efforts, you might be putting your health at risk. Popular weight loss products made from bee pollen, for example, could be very dangerous. This is because many contain hidden chemicals that the FDA says are not safe. Two chemicals, sibutramine and phenolphthalein, are especially dangerous to people who have high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, or bipolar disorder. The FDA says that many products like these do not have any proven weight loss benefits and often contain hidden ingredients, so you should avoid them to prevent dangerous side effects.
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Stress might cause direct damage to the heart
A new discovery might point to why stress is so unhealthy, which may confirm what many healthcare providers already believe about the link between high stress levels and heart disease. A recent study has shown that a high stress situation affects the way that the body produces blood cells. Most importantly, the study subjects had large amounts of white blood cells, connected with the immune system, that researchers believe can lead to heart attacks. However, more research needs to be done before we can know for sure.
There may be a connection between healthy levels of vitamin D in the body and healthy blood pressure. A big study of over 100,000 people from countries all over Europe seems to show that people who don’t have enough vitamin D tend to suffer more from high blood pressure. But the study did not look at if increasing vitamin D levels changed blood pressure, or if lowering blood pressure had an overall positive effect, so a direct link is not certain. However, researchers say that healthy levels of vitamin D are still important, as it can prevent pain, sleepiness and dangerous bone conditions like rickets.
A new drug being studied now might prove very effective at treating prediabetes, and prevent people from getting the full disease. The new drug, nicknamed NM504, improves carbohydrate digestion by changing the way gut bacteria work in your intestines. Many scientists believe that gut bacteria are important because they affect blood glucose levels, among other things. Of the patients tested, the drug was effective at lowering blood glucose after it was taken, but more testing is needed to determine if it is a safe treatment for prediabetes.
For some people with diabetes, weight loss (“bariatric”) surgery might be a good choice. A 15-year study of 2,380 people with diabetes has shown that, of those who had surgery, 30% did not have any more diabetes symptoms, compared to just 7% of those who had normal treatment. Researchers say this might be partly because big lifestyle changes needed for normal treatment are hard for many people to make. However, more research is needed before the results can be confirmed.