Just two months of healthy living classes can significantly reduce the risk of common diabetes complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, limb amputation and micro-vascular complications, says a study.
At present, nearly 30 million people in the US suffer from diabetes and one in three from pre-diabetes. Community-based interventions provide social support and give specific instructions that help move patients into healthy habits, revealed the study.
In some cases, it also enables patients to reduce medication.
Sixteen two-hour classes were conducted, which were focussed on the basics of a healthy lifestyle to substantially reduce cardiovascular risks associated with Type 2 diabetes and soaring blood glucose levels during fasting, the researchers said.
The participants were enrolled on a Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) – an affordable, lifestyle enrichment program designed to reduce disease risk factors through the adoption of better health habits and appropriate lifestyle modifications.
The primary focus of CHIP was consumption of whole foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and eight 10-ounce glasses of water daily.
“This study supports the osteopathic philosophy of medicine, including that diet and exercise are the most effective prescriptions physicians can give patients struggling with lifestyle diseases like Type 2 diabetes,” said Jay Shubrook, diabetologist at Touro University in California.
“But lifestyle changes require more commitment than taking a pill, which is why programs like CHIP are so beneficial,” he added.
Participants, after the CHIP classes, experienced significant reductions in total cholesterol levels (9.6 percent), fasting glucose (9 percent), body mass index (3.7 percent) and systolic blood pressure (5.7 percent), revealed the study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
CHIP also gives participants concrete instruction that takes a mind, body and spirit approach to healthy living.
Programs like CHIP engage people to strive for and reach better health, while preparing participants with the structure they need to continue a healthy lifestyle in the future, explained Shubrook.
The retrospective study evaluated 2011-2014 data collected from 110 patients in six Ohio University CHIP groups from 11 Appalachian counties where the prevalence of diabetes is over seven percent higher than the national average.