Lifestyle vs Medication – Type 2 Diabetes

Sadly, in western world countries, increased incidences and prevalence of type 2 diabetes is now a common chronic disease problem, due to obesity and decrease in physical activity.  There have been many treatment methods developed through a variety of research, from pharmacological (medications), to lifestyle, to herbal remedies.  

Type 2 diabetes, became an epidemic in 1994 as declared by the CDC.  Many health organizations started to look at this and provided must research and published evidence to support that lifestyle (healthy diet and moderate exercise) was most effective in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.   A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal consolidated evidence from 17 clinical trials that studied the effects of lifestyle, drugs, and other methods on men and women with impaired glucose tolerance. Results showed that intervention can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in high risk individuals, and lifestyle changes seem to be as effective as drug therapy.  Oral diabetic medications were also effective in delaying or preventing diabetes, but were not as effective as lifestyle changes.   A healthy diet and exercise were associated with considerably fewer adverse effects than pharmaceuticals (typically gastrointestinal effects and reduced liver function). Although medications were shown to be just as effective in reducing the risk of diabetes, there were concerns about taking medication over a course of a lifetime as even minor adverse effects become more significant, if a medication is to be taken for life. It was noted that compliance is key to lifestyle interventions, so strategies towards this method needs to be enhanced.  Education on living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise are imperative.  Inventive strategies, in a digital world, to entice individuals to pay more attention to their diet and the importance of exercise to even get up and move more throughout the day are needed.

To further support the above, take a look at Blue zone areas from around the world.  These areas show the least incidence of many types of diseases including Type 2 Diabetes.   In Blue Zones, there are a higher number of people who live longer than the average age of most other people, outside of Blue Zones.

Ikaria, Greece:  Has the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and dementia. Research links their increased longevity with their traditional Mediterranean diet, which is heavy in vegetables, red wine, healthy fats – olive oil, and contains smaller amounts of dairy and meat products.

Okinawan, Japan:  Home to the world’s longest-lived women contributed to food staples like Okinawan sweet potatoes, soybeans, mugwort, turmeric, and goya (bitter melon). Their exercise is mainly tai chai a form of meditative movement.

Ogliastra Region, Sardinia:  World’s highest concentration of men who have reached or exceeded 100 years old. They typically work on farms, consume a low-protein diet and also drink red wine, which all are associated with lower rates of diabetes, cancer, and death for people under age 65.

Loma Linda, California:  Highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists in the United States, and some residents live 10 more healthy years than the average American by following a biblical diet of grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables – mostly are strict vegetarians.

Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica:  World’s lowest rate of middle-age mortality and the second highest concentration of male centenarians (100 years old). Their longevity lies partly in their strong faith communities, deep social networks, and habits of regular, low-intensity physical jobs into old age.  Their diet is based around beans and corn tortillas.

*If this article or any past articles leaves you with questions, the want to be a better you, the courage to take the first step to a happier you, than please contact me at: 

Mikkie Nettles, Certified Personal Trainer/Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
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