At Advanced Surgeons, we’ve seen patient after patient improve their health through healthy lifestyle changes and weight loss surgery. One of the most important health benefits of losing weight is improvement of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). T2DM is a serious condition that can develop in people who are overweight. It can increase the risk of heart disease, kidney damage, nerve conditions and other health problems, and can even lead to limb amputations.
Controlling sugar intake and losing weight are some of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But some people don’t have to lose weight or reduce their body mass index (BMI) to see improvement. A low-carb diet may have benefits for people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes even if they don’t lose any weight, a 2019 study suggests.
Diabetes Risk and Diet
With over 100 million Americans currently living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s no wonder researchers are continually looking for ways to help people prevent this disease.
A June 2019 study in JCI Insight suggests that a low-carbohydrate diet may help those at risk for diabetes, even if that diet does not result in weight loss. The researchers, working at The Ohio State University, were seeking to explore the effect of a low-carb diet, without weight loss, on the obese subjects’ metabolic syndrome, which is a risk factor for diabetes (in addition to other conditions such as heart disease and stroke). Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of simultaneously occurring conditions, including:
- Increased blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels
- Unhealthy cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- Excess abdominal body fat
About one-third of the adult population in the U.S. has metabolic syndrome.
After eating the low-carb diet and maintaining their weight, the majority of the study subjects had various improvements, including in cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as evidence of an increase in fat-burning efficiency. These effects were seen even if the study subjects didn’t lose weight.
Other Diet and Diabetes Control Methods
Many other studies have touted the benefits of weight loss itself among overweight and obese people for improvement in diabetes and other aspects of health. There is also some discussion about calorie restricted-diets and fasting.
Positive health results in animal studies have led to speculation that calorie restriction, which is consistently reducing caloric intake below what is typical, may be helpful in humans for health and length of life. Fasting, or intermittent fasting, is not eating at all, or greatly limiting caloric intake over various periods of time. However, most experts say that there is not enough evidence to recommend these methods to achieve health goals, and question whether they are doable or even safe systems of nutrition.
In the meantime, in the case of diabetes, it is most prudent to work with a Registered Dietitian (RD) when developing a diet. There are even RDs who are certified diabetes educators (CDEs). RDs can assist with personalized eating plans, including, what, when and how much to eat, which can make an enormous difference on an individual’s ability to control and manage their disease. At Advanced Surgeons, we have RDs on staff who can help you create a sensible, sustainable meal plan to help you meet your weight loss goals.
Bariatric Surgery: Proven Effective
In addition to diet, there is also a proven method for improving diabetes. For those who qualify, one way of dealing with diabetes and other health considerations is bariatric surgery. In fact, the American Diabetes Association has recognized that bariatric surgery is a standard treatment for patients with T2DM and qualifying BMI of at least 35.
Research suggests that bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 95 percent of nearly all cases. Bariatric surgery results in remission of diabetes in nearly 80 percent of patients.
Diabetes Care and Prevention
Preventing or controlling type 2 diabetes is best achieved with a two-pronged approach: diet and physical activity.
Diabetes and Diet
Eating well means what you choose and how much you eat. A diet rich in vegetables, with moderate protein, and low-sugar fruits such as berries is recommended to both prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. Limited amounts of healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes can also play a role. Finally, limit or avoid sugar and processed foods, which include those made with refined (white) flour. Don’t smoke, and limit alcohol intake.
Diabetes and Exercise
To combat diabetes, experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week, but they also say that even small amounts of moderate activity can help. You can do physical activity deliberately, by going to a pool or gym. Whenever possible you can also work it into your day with lifestyle adaptation.
Start by deliberately parking your car farther from your destination so you have to walk and take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you want to lose weight though, you will probably have to ramp up your efforts to an hour or more of exercise at least five days a week. Healthy eating and physical activity are habits, but once you have them, they can benefit you for life. If you are ready to make a lifestyle change, including bariatric surgery to meet your weight loss goals and improve your health, request an appointment at Advanced Surgeons. We will lay out your options and help you choose the surgery or weight loss method that’s best for you and your life.