2 Critical Strategies to Prevent Diabetes

June 10th 2016
Rachel Lutz

Health care providers looking to strengthen their diabetes prevention efforts must point out 2 essential strategies when counseling patients.

Health care providers looking to strengthen their diabetes prevention efforts must point out 2 essential strategies when counseling patients.

According to the CDC, 86 million individuals in the United States are estimated to have prediabetes, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Candice Hall, DC, recently told theHuffington Postthat she believes type 2 diabetes progression can be reversed if patients make certain lifestyle changes.

“Patients come into my office complaining about the horrible effects of the disease and all the medications they have been prescribed,” Hall lamented. “Some patients are on half a dozen different prescriptions to treat everything from their blood sugar levels to their high blood pressure, high cholesterol, neuropathy and even sleep disorders. It’s heartbreaking.”

The experience Hall describes is all too common, but it’s well within the power of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to help reduce a patient’s risk for developing diabetes in the first place.

Kathleen M. Dailey, MS, FNP-C, a state practice manager for MinuteClinic,previously toldContemporary Clinicthat retail clinicians play an important role in community awareness about public health.

“The rapid increase in the number of pharmacy clinics is well-known, and their pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are the most accessible health care providers to community members,” Dr. Dailey said. “Among the wellness services offered at these community-based clinics are diabetes screening and monitoring, as well as weight management.”

Although they may seem obvious, effective prediabetes prevention can’t occur without the following 2 nonpharmacological prevention strategies:

1.Diet

Retail clinicians should make sure that prediabetes patients take the old adage “you are what you eat” to heart.

Erica Benedicto, PA-C,recently wroteinContemporary Clinicabout the benefits of “fixing your gut to fix your overall health.” She offered the following “simple steps” to help get patients back on the right track:

  • Replace sugary soda and juice with water
  • Start the day with a power smoothie
  • Eat high-quality meats and eggs
  • Swap gluten for veggies
  • Use healthy fats instead of inflammatory fats
  • Trade junk food for healthy nuts and fruit.

Clinicians can also advise hypertensive adults thatdrinking coffeemay increase their risk for prediabetes, especially those who drink more than 3 cups of coffee per day.

2.Exercise

Most clinicians and patients alike recognize that exercise is a key component of diabetes prevention, buthow muchand what kind is best?

Currently, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends exercising 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week—the equivalent of 1000 to 1500 calories of exercise a week. For patients using a fitness track, this recommendation is equivalent to 20,000 to 30,000 walking step counts per week.

Aerobic exercise has been the mode traditionally advised for diabetes prevention.

Beyond physical exercise, practicingmindfulnesshas been shown to help obese patients reduce their diabetes risk.

Participants in a recent study were taught how to meditate and focus better on their eating and exercise habits. To reduce stress, they learned about sitting meditation, loving kindness, and yoga.

The participants were also taught how to enhance their awareness of hunger, stomach fullness, taste, cravings, emotions, and eating triggers. Meanwhile, the mindful exercise revolved around mindful walking, awareness of sensory experience, posture, and alignment.

The researchers behind the study, which was published inObesity, found that these mindfulness exercises had positive effects on 2 factors linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease: fasting blood glucose and ratio of triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.

Exercise can not only help patients lose weight, but also improve the body’s overall function.

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