Don't try to beat diabetes until you read this

If you want to lose weight, get healthy and prevent the death risk that comes with diabetes, you certainly can -- but do it with the right weight loss plan, or don't bother doing it at all.

For a classic lesson in "don't bother doing it at all," check out the 5,145 overweight and obese type 2 diabetics who took part in the latest research. Half went on a low-calorie diet and got some exercise. As a result, they lost some weight and saw improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and more.

Sounds good, right?

Well, 11 years later, the results aren't what you'd expect -- because the diabetics who were on the weight loss plan and lost weight aren't healthier, and they're not living longer. They have the exact same risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease as the overweight and obese diabetics who didn't lose weight.

The researchers even ended the study two years earlier than planned. They noted that diabetics who lose weight on the weight loss plan use fewer meds, but even they seem to realize that's not much of a selling point.

Why bother with all the work of weight loss plan and exercise when you just can pop a few pills instead?

A former head of the American Diabetes Association went even further. Dr. John Buse takes something of a "glass half full" approach, telling The New York Times that it's not that weight loss doesn't work -- it's that today's drugs are so powerful they can actually match the benefits of weight loss plan.

Well, that glass had better be more than half full if you're going to swallow all the pills needed for diabetes. In fact, you'll probably need an extra glass.

Fact is, you don't have to choose between lots of drugs and slightly fewer drugs. You can significantly cut down on or even eliminate those meds and even insulin, get your diabetes under control naturally (or even cure it), and live a longer and healthier life all at the same time.

And it starts with diet.

That's right -- the very approach the new study claims doesn't work. But here's the problem: The diabetics in the new study lost just 5 percent of their body weight.

That's not enough.

Most diabetics aren't a few pounds overweight. They're badly overweight, and many are obese -- and they need to lose a lot more than 5 percent before they see the real benefits of weight loss.

And that's why you need to do it right if you're going to do it at all -- and that means losing all the extra weight.

Forget the low-calorie diet and weight loss  plan used in the study. It's too difficult to follow over the long-term, which is probably why the weight loss was so limited. In addition, it can be difficult to get enough critical nutrients and healthy fats when you're so limited in choices (or, worse yet, eating bland, frozen, low-cal diet meals).

Instead, try the common-sense approach of a Mediterranean-style diet, which allows for a wide range of delicious foods and no real need to count calories.

Bear in mind that even a great plan like the Mediterranean diet won't work very well unless the metabolic controlling hormones in your body are balanced -- including thyroid, testosterone, growth hormone, DHEA, and cortisol. For help balancing those hormones see a holistic doctor like me.

And if you're in the California area you can get a complete weight loss solution tailored to your personal needs, as well as natural diabetes care, by making an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.