I was almost unreasonably excited by an article I read yesterday on the CNN website about a man who, upon being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 39, said “no thank you” to the offer of drugs and instead set out to reverse his diabetes with healthy eating and regular exercise.
And guess what? He succeeded!
Jonathan Legg cut out fatty foods and alcohol and watched his carbs. He eats more fiber and protein, and has lost 40 pounds. He says he really enjoys what he eats now. (I wish more people would realize that it’s totally possible for food to be both delicious and nutritious.)
This is an issue near and dear to my heart (and what I hope will be my academic future). Preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes (and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) is so much better than treating them after they happen. A healthy diet and regular exercise are vital components for preventing disease and protecting good health. As Mr. Legg demonstrates, nutrition and fitness can sometimes even reverse disease.*
I have a family history of diabetes, so I am being proactive by eating right, exercising at least six days a week (I aim for seven) and keeping my weight down. I eat lots of vegetables and fruit, moderate amounts of quality protein, healthy fats and whole grains, and very little sugar or refined carbohydrates. I have an average of four alcoholic drinks per week (usually red wine), but I could give it up in an instant if I needed to (in fact, I did that last summer, for kicks). Right now, I’m reaping the rewards of looking good and feeling great. In the future, I hope I will reap the rewards of never being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or any other chronic health condition that is linked to lifestyle choices.
Like Mr. Legg, I would much rather commit to exercise, diet and weight control for the rest of my life than have to someday live as a diabetic. There are no guarantees, of course, but I like my odds.
* If you already have a health condition, such as diabetes, for which you are taking medication, and you want to see what nutrition and exercise can do for you, always talk to your doctor first, and never just go off your meds!