The diet and exercise combo that works for heart health

Whether it's counting carbs, walking after meals or eating cinnamon to lower your blood sugar level, doing the diabetes dance can involve a variety of challenging lifestyle changes.

For heart health, however, a new study reveals that a combination of the Mediterranean diet and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can offer dramatic results for people with abdominal obesity.

Encouraging improvements

The research, conducted by the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, showed that the diet-exercise combo led to improvements in body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, exercise capacity, muscle endurance, weight loss, resting heart rate and blood sugar.

"Each of these lifestyle interventions alone is known to have an impact, but no one has studied them together in a longer term," said Dr. Mathieu Gayda, study author and exercise physiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute.

The study participants all had abdominal obesity, which refers to excess fat that is carried around the stomach and is linked to a higher risk of diabetes. Participating in high-intensity interval training two to three times a week, the subjects also received counseling on how to adopt a Mediterranean diet, which includes a high volume of vegetables, fish, grains and olive oil.

Previous studies have linked HIIT to better health outcomes in diabetes, as well as more sustainable changes in exercise behavior. The current study was no exception. Results showed that participants had an 8-centimeter average reduction in waist circumference, a 6 millimeter-reduction in systolic blood pressure, and a 15 percent improvement in aerobic fitness over the first nine months of the study.

Long-term results

What's most encouraging about the study, the authors said, is that the health benefits of the HIIT-Mediterranean diet combination seem to last over time.

"What is striking is not only the positive early results, which can be common when motivation is high, but the fact that participants kept improving into a second year," said Dr. Nigam, a preventive cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute.

Cardiovascular disease is the currently the leading cause of death among Canadians with diabetes, Dr. Gayada noted, and the key to a heart-healthy life fundamentally lies in diet and exercise.

"Improvements and control in blood sugar levels using lifestyle interventions (exercise and diet) can substantially reduce [patients'] overall risk of heart disease and stroke and microvascular complications such as retina and kidney disease," the study concluded.

Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation

Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Well-controlled diabetes may depend on medication, but nutrition is perhaps the most important factor. There are many foods that can be added to...

Detoxification, or detox, diets are typically short-term diets that promise to rid the body of environmental toxins. Most detox plans begin with a...

Caring for children comes with its challenges, especially for babysitters. Things can get even more complicated when those children have diabetes...

The goal of the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCD) is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same times each day. Although this diet...

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation...

More Articles

The liver is the largest single organ, and largest gland, in the human body. Perhaps because of its central role in so many aspects of metabolism...

The goal of the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCD) is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same times each day. Although this diet...

Diabetes has no known cure, but there are many ways to control the disease and prevent the symptoms from interfering with daily life. One major...

Steve Gilbert, the writer of the blog Without Envy, has a young daughter named Lia who has diabetes. This...

Everyone from grandmothers to physicians tout oatmeal's wholesome goodness and health benefits. But, is oatmeal good for diabetics? Limited...

Caring for children comes with its challenges, especially for babysitters. Things can get even more complicated when those children have diabetes...

Detoxification, or detox, diets are typically short-term diets that promise to rid the body of environmental toxins. Most detox plans begin with a...

This article was written exclusively for Information About Diabetes by Julia Flaherty, a type 1 diabetic college student, editor of the Arts...

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation...

Food often becomes the focal point when it comes to discussing a diabetes diet, but the beverages you drink could be affecting your weight and...

Encephalopathy is defined as brain disease, damage or malfunction. It characteristically results in an altered mental state, sometimes accompanied...

While most physicians will tell you that your blood glucose will not be impacted by a flu shot, anecdotally there are reports of increased...

Because it is Peripheral Neuropathy Awareness Week (May 7-13), this article is about a device people with neuropathy may not be aware of—a device...

There is a connection between anxiety control, inflammation and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study conducted by Rice University researchers...

Lantus is a once a day insulin injection that is taken at the same time every day. It replaces anywhere from the average three to five insulin...