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Articles of Interest

Jenny Thompson,
Director, Health Sciences Institute

Are you feeling lucky?

Consider where your place might be among these type II diabetes statistics...

  • 18 million diagnosed
  • More than 1.5 million new cases diagnosed each year
  • Nearly six million undiagnosed
  • 57 million at high risk (pre-diabetic)
  • One of every four over the age of 60 diagnosed

Pretty daunting, isn't it? But they say you make your own luck, so here's a lucky little secret: You could significantly tilt the type II diabetes odds in your favour just by making sure you're getting enough magnesium.

Magnesium helps heart muscles relax, reduces blood pressure, helps control homocysteine, promotes bone health, reduces risk of cognitive decline, plays a key role in DNA production and helps maintain normal insulin levels.

And of course it's that last item that has launched many type II diabetes studies.

The latest research comes from the University of North Carolina, in the US. Researchers tracked 20 years of dietary and medical records for nearly 4,500 subjects who were'nt diabetic when they were recruited.

Subjects with the highest magnesium intake (from both diet and supplements) cut their diabetes risk by half, compared to subjects with the lowest intake. In addition, insulin resistance and inflammation markers were lowest in the high intake group. High intake was calculated to be at least 200mg per every 1,000 calories consumed.

These results can now be added to other promising magnesium studies... US researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital collected data from more than 11,000 women over the age of 45. Subjects with the highest magnesium intake had nearly 30% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome (a set of symptoms that signal high risk of type II diabetes).

Northwestern University researchers, in the US, followed 15 years of medical records for more than 4,600 healthy subjects. The highest intake of magnesium was linked with a significantly lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

And in 2007, researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute reviewed seven large studies similar to the three above.

Results: Six of the studies found a significant association between high magnesium intake and reduced risk of type II diabetes. The sources of magnesium - diet or supplements combined with diet - were equally effective. On average, diabetes risk dropped by 15% for every 100mg increase in magnesium intake.

Unfortunately, it's easy to become magnesium deficient. High stress and menstruation can take their toll on magnesium levels, while a heavy intake of starches, alcohol, diuretics and some prescription drugs (such as antibiotics) can increase urinary excretion of magnesium.

If a blood test shows your magnesium level is low (a normal range is anywhere between 0.66 and 1.23 millimoles per litre), Dr Spreen recommends 500mg of magnesium per day, with the added note that magnesium gluconate and chelated magnesium are the preferred supplement forms.

Meanwhile, add leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts and whole grains to your daily diet and you'll be giving your body a powerful magnesium fortification against type II diabetes.

If you already have diabetes, magnesium is a must to help care for your heart health. But in addition, there are other non-drug interventions that have actually helped many diabetes patients completely overcome their disease and put it behind them forever...

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Workouts that really work

It's no surprise that exercise could help beat diabetes - but don't just hop on a treadmill and call it a day.

A new study finds that how you exercise is just as important as the exercise itself - and the right combination of resistance training and aerobic workouts can unlock two key benefits: Lower blood sugar levels and fewer meds.

Researchers randomly assigned 221 previously sedentary volunteers to one of three workout programs for 12 weeks:

  • Resistance training for three days a week, consisting of two sets of abdominal crunches and back extensions, two sets of four upper-body exercises and three sets of three leg exercises with weight machines.
  • Aerobic exercise consisting of 150 minutes a week of moderate walking on a treadmill.
  • Two days of resistance exercises per week along with a little less of that moderate treadmill walking.
  • Another 41 volunteers served as a control group and didn't exercise at all.

At the start of the programme, the patients had an average HbA1C (glycated haemoglobin) reading of 7.7%.

Twelve weeks later, the combo group lowered those levels by 0.34% compared to the control group - the only change in the study considered to be statistically significant.

For the record, though, the aerobics group saw a dip of 0.24% and the resistance trainers dropped by 0.16% when compared to the control group.

The ones who participated in the combination workouts were also the only ones to lose weight.

But they also lost something else: Meds. Those who did both forms of exercise needed less of their drugs to control the disease, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But while exercise is an important first step, it won't beat diabetes on its own.

The real answer starts with what you eat. Focus on the low-carb foods that can keep your blood-sugar levels down and - along with a few key supplements and that right combination of exercise - you might not just reduce your need for meds.

You could eliminate them completely.

Source: Health Bytes: Fast-track to looking and feeling younger – year after year! Get breakthrough information about natural and safe alternatives to prescription drugs delivered to your inbox weekly.