We’ve all heard it. The friend or family member who says, “Well, my doctor told me I ought to change my lifestyle, but I never really got around to doing it.”
Doing it is the crux of the matter. Research affirms that doing it does happen – and the results are remarkable – when people are given individualized guidance from lifestyle-change professionals like registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and psychologists. Yes, the very same professionals who are at the Pritikin Longevity Center.
And lifestyle improvements appear to be especially beneficial as pre-diabetes treatment.
In a large study*, part of the ongoing Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, scientists followed 522 middle-aged overweight men and women who had impaired glucose tolerance.
Half of these pre-diabetics, the control group, were given standard care. At the study’s start, they received general advice, both written and oral, about diet and exercise.
More vegetables, fruits, whole grains
The other half, the intervention group, received regular personalized guidance from nutrition and exercise professionals over the course of three years. They were counseled in practical, easy-to-implement ways to lose at least 5% of their body fat by including more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in their lives, and by choosing low-fat/nonfat dairy foods and lean meat over fattier options.
The intervention group was also given personalized exercise coaching. The goal: exercising at least 30 minutes every day.
Reductions in metabolic syndrome
The results? After 3.9 years, reported lead investigator Dr. Pirjo Ilanne-Parikka and colleagues, “we found a significant reduction in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the intervention group compared with the control group and in the prevalence of abdominal obesity.”
The intervention group was four times more likely than the control group to see reductions in the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of diabetes risk factors that include high triglycerides, low HDL good cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, and abdominal obesity (a waist of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women).
Reversal of the metabolic syndrome would not only decrease the risk of diabetes but should also “reduce risk of cardiovascular disease in the long run,” concluded the authors.
* Diabetes Care, 2008; 31: 805.