Is There a Way to Prevent Diabetes?
Fifteen years ago, a study called the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that diet and exercise work as well to prevent diabetes among high-risk individuals as taking a drug called metformin.
In the original study conducted between 1996 and 2001, volunteers who were overweight, with elevated blood sugar that didn’t quite reach the cut-off for diabetes, were randomly assigned to take metformin, to take a placebo, or to follow a low-fat diet and do 15 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day. Those in the lifestyle group were 58 percent less likely to have developed diabetes than those in the placebo group. Metformin also worked, though it was slightly less effective.
Fifteen Years Later, the Benefits of Lifestyle Change Hold Up:
When the researchers followed up with the participants after about 15 years, 62 percent of those in the placebo group had developed diabetes. That compares to 56 percent of those who took metformin and 55 percent of those watching their diet and exercising.
What diet might a person follow to prevent the development of diabetes? There is evidence that either the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet is useful in this regard. Both are rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and have little red meat or high-fat dairy products such as cheese or ice cream. Research has also shown that diets with lots of white bread, potatoes and processed foods put people at greater risk of developing diabetes.