People with type 2 diabetes were able to halve their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) depending on their healthy lifestyle choices, a US study has found.
Not smoking, exercising and drinking in moderation also helped to significantly cut the risk of cardiovascular mortality and improve life expectancy, according to Harvard University researchers.
In the study a healthy diet was classified by the top two-fifths of the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, a scoring metric that can be used to determine overall diet quality.
Harvard researchers studied the lifestyles of 8,970 women and 2,557 men diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, all of whom were free from CVD and cancer upon diagnosis.
They then examined the outcomes of an overall healthy lifestyle (eating a high-quality diet, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation and getting regular physical activity), with follow-ups reviewed every two to four years for an average duration of 13.3 years.
For participants with at least three good lifestyle factors, there was a 50% lower risk of CVD incidence and coronary heart disease, and a two-thirds lower risk of stroke and CVD mortality.
For each incremental healthy lifestyle factor there was a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 12% lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 21% lower risk of stroke, and a 27% lower risk of CVD mortality.
Researchers say they carried out the study because scientific evidence is limited on the impact of healthy lifestyle on the risk of cardiovascular events in people with condition.
“These findings further support the tremendous benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle in reducing the subsequent burden of cardiovascular complications in patients with T2D [type 2 diabetes],” said the study team.
The study was published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Editor’s note: On our Low Carb Program we show how eating a healthy, real-food diet can help to prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes. Results show the average HbA1c decreases in users with type 2 diabetes is 1.2 mmol/mol (1.3%) after 12 months.

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