“In America, we now have more than 30 million people with diabetes,” says Dr. Thomas C. Blevins, an endocrinologist, diabetes expert and founder of Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology.

While the Type 2 diabetes numbers are staggering, the CDC estimates 84 million people are living with pre-diabetes, which is asymptomatic, meaning nearly one-third of the population is at risk for Type 2 without knowing it. The same CDC report warns that many will progress to fully-blown cases within 5 years if changes aren’t made.

Fortunately, for those at risk, these changes are within reach. With the right choices, those with pre-diabetes can potentially keep diabetes in remission and live an overall healthier life.

Know your risk

“The main message for public health should be ‘know your number,’” says Dr. Blevins, who advises adults to keep their blood tests up to date. “Know if you have it, and if you do, actively do something about it.”

Genes can play a role in the risk for diabetes, and certain life events that affect metabolism, like pregnancy, may also contribute to one’s chances of getting the disease. But the two largest controllable factors in Type 2 diabetes are diet and exercise.

Type 2 diabetes is a blood sugar disorder, caused by resistance to insulin, a hormone that plays a lead role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. For those who may be overeating or eating unhealthy, the overload of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats leads to insulin resistance, damaging the body’s ability to process excess sugar.

Weight loss is vital

Sometimes it’s easier said than done. The issues in our country with diet and obesity are not just the root causes of Type 2, but also of related health conditions such as heart and kidney disease, as well as muscle and bone problems.

“For a long time we weren’t easily able to target obesity; we didn’t have any tools,” says Dr. Timothy N. Logemann*, FACC, a cardiologist in Wausau, Wisconsin. “It was a frustration. Short of obesity surgery, we could only tell our patients to eat less and exercise more.”

Dr. Logemann recently spearheaded a study into a medically-developed weight loss system called the Ideal Protein Protocol, which has had dramatic results for patients.

This protocol is a low-calorie, carbohydrate-restricted, adequate protein and, most importantly, a supervised diet and maintenance plan, which not only helps patients reach their weight loss goal, but also builds behaviors that help patients maintain a healthier diet and active lifestyle after completion.

“We’ve been offering this protocol for about 5 years now,” says Dr. Logemann. “We’ve seen many of our patients come off of medication while also improving their blood sugar levels.”

An overall health priority

“The focus of cardiology has always been (and should continue to be) prevention,” says Dr. Douglas W. Rothrock, a fellow cardiologist and senior national medical advisor for Ideal Protein. “The difference in the paradigm is in improving overall health instead of just treating the consequences of obesity with medication.”

For a diabetes specialist like Dr. Blevins, what makes this protocol stand out from other programs?

“I could tell them to go to any other weight program, but I don’t really have the ability to supervise it,” he says. “The Ideal Protein Protocol has a coaching aspect that’s very effective. [Patients] are taught how to make healthier food choices … it offers me a way to confidently say I have an effective plan for them to lose weight.”

But the only way a plan like this can work is if everyone takes a proactive role in their own health, getting regular check-ups early and often.

All doctors quoted within serve on the Ideal Protein medical advisory board and/or own and operate a clinic that offers the Ideal Protein Protocol and sells Ideal Protein products.