To Your Health
November, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 11)
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Winning the Numbers Game

By Ronald Klatz, MD, DO and Robert Goldman, MD

Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, accounts for about 90-95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. In mid-2008, the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced staggering new statistics on diabetes. The 2007 data show that 24 million Americans, or an unbelievable 8 percent of the nation's total population, currently have diabetes. What's more, the condition has increased disproportionately among the elderly, as 25 percent of Americans ages 60 years and older are now afflicted.

Diabetes can result in a number of medical complications including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney disease, nervous-system damage and periodontal disease. People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses, and once they acquire these illnesses, they often have worse prognoses. Diabetes also multiplies the cost of treating other diseases.

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, participants of the Diabetes Prevention Program (a large prevention study of people at high risk for diabetes) who had lifestyle interventions reduced the development of diabetes by 58 percent over a three-year period. The reduction was even greater (71 percent) among adults age 60 or older. Several other studies published in the past 12 months reinforce the notion that by making one or more simple dietary modifications, each of us can significantly reduce our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Think Mediterranean

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Staples of the Mediterranean diet include cereals, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish and olive oil, and numerous studies suggest people who follow the Mediterranean diet live longer and have less heart disease and a reduced risk of cancers. In a recent study, Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez from the University of Navarra (Spain) and colleagues studied 11,380 graduates with no history of diabetes, tracking their dietary habits via food questionnaires. It was generally observed that those subjects who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.  Over 4.4 years of follow-up, participants with the highest adherence to the diet were 83 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest adherence. Researchers suggest the Mediterranean diet lowers plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers and markers of endothelial dysfunction, two biomarkers that predict future likelihood of type 2 diabetes.

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Go Green (and Leafy)

An increased intake of green leafy vegetables may reduce the risk of women developing type 2 diabetes. Specifically, Bazzano and colleagues found that for every additional serving consumed, the risk was slashed by 10 percent. The study involved 71,346 female nurses (ages 38 to 63) who were followed for 18 years. The researchers also found that whole-fruit consumption led to an 18 percent reduction in diabetes risk. Interestingly, fruit juice consumption was associated with an increased risk of diabetes.