Type 2 Diabetes

One common problem, four expert solutions.

By Michael F. Roizen | MD from Reader's Digest | November 2007
Diet and exercise is the best way to treat type 2 diabetes. comstockcomplete.comDiet and exercise is the best way to treat type 2 diabetes.

     

  • 1.

    Change Your Diet


    Not everyone wants to take medications forever, since they can be expensive and can even lead to weight gain. In my research, people with diabetes who ate a plant-based, low-fat vegan diet lost weight, reduced their cholesterol and improved their blood sugar better than those on a portion control diet. You can use diet to reverse the condition, but if you return to your old habits, it will come right back.

    – Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

  • 2.

    Eat More Fiber


    Diet and exercise have the biggest impact, and the best diet is high in fiber and low in the glycemic index (foods that are slowly converted to sugar). The American Diabetes Association recommends eating about 30 grams of fiber a day, but studies suggest that eating up to 50 grams provides significant benefits, because fiber lowers insulin and cholesterol levels.

    – Dwight McKee, MD, Aptos, California

  • 3.

    Get Moving


    A main cause of type 2 diabetes is being overweight. You have to make a big change to get healthy, and exercise is key to reversing the condition. As you change your diet, aim to burn 300 calories a day through exercise. If you have to, work out twice a day if you can’t do it in one shot, and as you get fitter, gradually increase your exercise time.

    – Joel Fuhrman, MD, Flemington, New Jersey

  • 4.

    Try Medication


    Diabetes is a disease, not a moral failing. Lifestyle modifications can make it better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean horrible lifestyle choices caused it. If diet and exercise don’t help, we try an oral drug that doesn’t cause weight gain. If that doesn’t work, we add more medication. Type 2 diabetes is generally a progressive disease, so even if you do everything right, you may need to increase your medicine over time.

    – Robin Goland, MD, Co-director, Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York

Bottom Line
Excess blood sugar is like a glass shard scraping our arteries, and it can lead to atherosclerosis. Keep sugar under control with a program you love (or you won’t stay on it) that includes high-fiber foods. Liven up your diet with cinnamon; it may sensitize your body to insulin.

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