Taking charge of your diabetes with aggressive action leads to significantly better diabetes management — even leading to management of the disease without blood-sugar-lowering drugs.
That's the surprising takeaway from a new study that focused on people who agreed to embark on an exercise program up to six days a week and who drastically altered their diets.
"Half of the intervention group did not need glucose-lowering medications to maintain or even improve control [of their blood sugar]," said the study's senior researcher, Mathias Ried-Larsen of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.
About 100 people from Denmark participated ion the study. All had Type 2 diabetes for less than 10 years, and none had complications from the disease.
The average age of the participants was 55, and nearly half were women. Average A1C level — A1C is a blood test that estimates average blood sugar levels over a period of about three months — at the start of the study was 6.7 percent. An A1C of 6.5 percent or higher indicates diabetes, per the American Diabetes Association.
Study participants were randomly placed in a standard care group or in the intensive management group. "Patients were prescribed exercise five to six times per week for 30 to 60 minutes per session. That included both endurance and resistance training," said Ried-Larsen, of the aggressive training group. Also, "they received a dietary program with focus on foods rich in fiber, low in saturated fats, lots of fruit and no processed food," he said.
The study results were surprising: Adding intensive lifestyle management to standard diabetes care brought blood sugar into a nondiabetic range.
After a year, the intensive group lost 13 pounds compared to four pounds in the standard management group, the study showed. "Bad" cholesterol LDL) and triglycerides were reduced more in the aggressive group than in the standard group. Also, "good" cholesterol (HDL) rose significantly in the aggressive group, more so than in the standard group.
Average A1C dropped from 6.65 to 6.34 percent in the intensive intervention group, and from 6.74 percent to 6.66 percent in the standard group, researchers found.
Those who took on the diet and exercise program needed less diabetes medication, while only one-quarter of the standard care group lowered their medications, the findings showed.
Ried-Larsen was quick to point out the money-saving benefits as well: Some of the newer Type 2 diabetes medications can be costly. "I think this study calls for a thorough discussion about the resources we need to allocate to help people to adhere to a lifestyle treatment and what responsibility the society has in this regard," Ried-Larsen said.
"We do acknowledge that the lifestyle treatment is extensive and could be regarded as not economically viable in clinical care," Ried-Larsen noted. "However, consider the willingness to introduce newer classes of drugs that come with extreme prices. If we could get doctors and patients to allocate that sort of money and resources to lifestyle treatment, I think we could change things."
The report was published Aug. 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
© 2024 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.