Diabetes is a devastating chronic disease that affects millions of Americans and leads to a heavy financial burden for the individual. Often times, patients don’t realize there’s a problem until their physician diagnoses them with pre-diabetes or diabetes as evidenced by a routine blood test. It’s often shocking to the patient, but, sadly for us in the healthcare profession, we know that this scenario is all too common.
Patients often incorrectly assume that “once a diabetic, always a diabetic,” but that is not entirely true. There are frequently ways to treat the root cause of diabetes, rather than only manage it.
Weight gain and obesity are associated with increased inflammation and insulin resistance, and it’s this prolonged insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes. Treating diabetes—as opposed to managing it—requires approaches that lead to significant weight loss. But after significant weight loss, many of our patients are able to achieve normal blood glucose levels, come off of their diabetes medication and achieve significantly better overall health.
At GHS Nutrition Solutions, we offer many nutrition and weight-loss programs to help patients affected by obesity and diabetes. One of the most beneficial programs we offer is the medically supervised program Optifast, which was in the news recently.
A recent national study found that patients in an Optifast treatment group lost more weight and had greater improvement in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1C) than patients on a conventional diet with lifestyle intervention. The study randomized the 273 patients to either an Optifast program or a conventional intervention. For details on this study, presented last week at the American Diabetes Association’s 78th annual scientific session, click here.
The study confirms what we’ve already seen locally. For most individuals, an Optifast program can be the best treatment option to achieve significant weight loss. Optifast programs provide a simple nutrition plan that uses meal replacement bars and shakes. This effectively allows the person to focus on changing behaviors and habits, which can lead to permanent weight loss.
Optifast programs also address the need for ongoing support. There are three phases to these programs: active weight loss, transition and maintenance. For full benefit, we encourage patients to stay engaged long-term.
Once the initial weight-loss goal is met—regardless of which program is used—we help patients maintain their healthier lifestyles with a sustainable diet and exercise plan, appropriate stress management and adequate sleep.
Weight-loss treatment must ultimately be individualized for the patient, and no “cookie-cutter” diet approach will be effective long-term.
With all of our patients, we provide support, resources, education and tools—but we know that the best treatment will ultimately come from the patient, because only they can implement the right course of action for them. We have the privilege of partnering with patients on their journey, but, ultimately, they make the final decisions in their care.
This model of treatment has been very successful for us, and we are proud to offer solutions for long-term weight management. As it has been defined by the World Health Organization, health is not simply the absence of disease, but rather a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
For more information on achieving a healthy weight—including prepared meals through our Better Bites Café or how your own genetic makeup can affect not only metabolism but cravings—call Nutrition Solutions at (864) 676-1248 or visit us at ghs.org/nutritionsolutions.
Christy Strouse is a dietitian, personal trainer and weight-loss coach with GHS Nutrition Solutions