Tags: Diabetes | diabetes | prevention | curcumin | exercise

Alternative Therapies to Prevent Diabetes

Friday, 01 May 2015 04:27 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Adult-onset, or Type 2, diabetes is a serious medical disorder that greatly increases heart attack risk. Research on alternative therapies has concentrated on people with impaired glucose tolerance, a condition also called “prediabetes.”

An estimated 25 to 75 percent of those in this category go on to develop diabetes within the next decade. But just having prediabetes hikes heart disease risk as well.

Curcumin, the substance in turmeric spice that gives Indian curry its distinctive yellow color, is an anti-inflammatory that bestows many health benefits. In a clinical study reported in the journal “Diabetes Care.” researchers divided 240 people into two groups: one group was given daily curcumin capsules, the other group got a placebo.

After nine months, 19 of the adults in the placebo group had developed diabetes, but none taking the curcumin capsules did. I suggest 2 to 4 capsules per day.

While curcumin does seem to have benefits for diabetes, two other alternative therapies currently being studied are a little more ambiguous.

Chinese herbs have long been touted for improved glucose tolerance, and there may be something to it. An Australian research team at the University of Western Sydney analyzed 16 trials that involved 1,391 people.

In half of the study, those who received the Chinese herbal therapies and modified their lifestyle were more than twice as likely as the others to normalize their glucose levels.

But the researchers also sounded a cautious note because the participants who were the most successful also changed their lifestyle, which greatly reduces diabetes risk. In addition, the researchers had no way to guarantee that the Chinese herbs used in each study were identical formulations.

Meanwhile, a compound called chromium picolinate was thought to improve glucose metabolism. But research did not find this to be the case.

In a randomized, controlled study, researchers recruited 59 people who did not have diabetes, but were at risk for it because of glucose abnormalities.

They were divided into groups that received either 500 or 1,000 mg of chromium picolinate daily, or a placebo.

The researchers, writing in the journal “Endocrine Practice,” also observed no change in glucose or insulin levels in participants who received the dosage of chromium, compared with placebo.

In addition, there were no improvements in weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides. But without a doubt, the best “alternative” therapy for diabetes is exercise.

I’ve written often about exercise as a way to prevent heart disease, but people who already have it may be wondering if I mean them as well.

Absolutely. Even patients with congestive heart failure, whose endurance may be compromised, can benefit from an exercise program.

The American Heart Association recommends 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week. I endorse walking as an excellent way to get started. I’ve found that even my patients whose hearts have been weakened have gradually been able to work up to levels that exceeded their expectations.

So, when you’re casting about for “alternative” therapies, don’t neglect walking!

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Research on alternative therapies has concentrated on people with impaired glucose tolerance, a condition also called “prediabetes.”
diabetes, prevention, curcumin, exercise
Friday, 01 May 2015 04:27 PM
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