COLUMBUS, Ohio – Thirty million Americans already have diabetes -- either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body processes it incorrectly to lower blood sugar.
Now, research suggests that what is good for your heart may also prevent diabetes, which is good news for those who are at risk.
Twenty million more people are projected to develop diabetes over the next 20 years. Lee Miller and his doctor think there may be a way to prevent it.
For 10 years, Miller has maintained a 40-pound weight loss, but Miller got a shock at his yearly checkup.
“I had gone to a physical and had bloodwork done and came back with higher blood sugar levels than were good,” Miller said.
The man, who used to train for triathlons, was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and he worried that full-blown diabetes could be next.
Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, of The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, and his colleagues assessed the heart health of more than 7,000 people who did not have diabetes. The researchers then used the American Heart Association's measure of heart health, called Life’s Simple Seven.
For starters, did the subjects have blood pressure of less than 120 over 80? Fasting glucose less than 100, total cholesterol less than 200, and BMI of less than 25? Did they exercise for 150 minutes a week and eat well with two servings of fish weekly? Finally, if they had ever smoked, did they quit?
“People who had four or more of those compared to 0-1, had a 70-80 percent lower risk of diabetes over 10 years,” Joseph explained.
Miller did develop diabetes, but believes shedding about 20 more pounds and increasing his exercise again could be the key to keeping the symptoms under control.
“My doctor feels if I can get there, I may have a chance with exercise," Miller said.
Miller said he has cut out all soda and limits his carb intake to 45 grams per meal. He’s also planning to start training for a triathlon again as motivation.
In addition to the other heart-healthy recommendations for preventing diabetes, Joseph suggests limiting sugar-sweetened beverages to only 36 ounces or less every week.