Diabetes: What to Do Now

Diabetes can shorten your life by as many as 15 years. Michael Dansinger, MD, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and host of the diabetes community at WebMD, shares important recent findings:

1. You should take it personally. “About 35 percent of all adults have diabetes or prediabetes, and most people with prediabetes don’t know it. If you’re over 45, have parents or siblings with the disease, and can grab a handful of fat on your belly, ask your doctor about getting a blood-sugar test.”

2. Surgery can help. “If you have type 2 diabetes and can’t get your blood-sugar numbers down, the most reliable treatment is bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass. And I say that even though I usually recommend lifestyle changes first! Studies this year have shown that 80 percent of people with diabetes who have this surgery end up with normal blood-sugar levels and can stop taking medication. You don’t have to be severely obese to benefit. If you’re five foot three and 200 pounds—or five foot ten and 240—you qualify.”

3. We know the worst diet. “It turns out that blood-sugar levels stay high longer after starchy or sugary meals that are also high in fat. The Ornish diet says don’t eat fat with your carbs. The Atkins diet says don’t eat carbs with your fat. They may both be right. It’s like guns and bullets: Neither one alone is lethal, but together, they can wreak havoc. This explains why so many different kinds of diets can help with diabetes: You benefit if they restrict fat or carbs or both.”

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