Reclusive former reality star Rob Kardashian has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the New York Daily News reported. But experts say the serious condition, which affects more than 29 million people in the U.S., can be "beat" with diet and exercise.
The 28-year-old was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach problems on Dec. 27 and subsequently diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis — a serious diabetes complication where the body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. If left untreated, Kardashian could have slipped into a diabetic coma. "There's a very good potential for him to eliminate or minimize the need for medication if he changes his poor health habits," nutritionist Dr. Charles Passler told NY Daily News.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin and the body becomes resistant to it, according to the Mayo Clinic. People who eat more than they exercise tend to face increased risk of developing the chronic condition, which may have been the case for Kardashian; he became a recluse amid struggles with his weight, NY Daily News reported.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of serious health problems, such as heart and blood vessel disease, skin conditions, nerve, kidney, and eye and foot damage. Symptoms can be slow to develop, but include increased thirstiness and frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss, and fatigue. In some cases, people could have the disease for years, perhaps like Kardashian. According to TMZ, he was unaware he had diabetes. Kardashian himself, however, hasn't spoken, reportedly retreating back into seclusion following his health scare.
The silver lining: adopting a healthy lifestyle could make it easier for Kardashian and anyone else diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. "Type 2 diabetes is one of the most preventable diseases we have," Passler said. "It's essentially a lifestyle management problem; diet plays a huge role."
One study has shown that just 90 seconds of intense and intermittent cycling can reverse heart problems among diabetics; a noteworthy finding considering heart disease is the leading cause of death for diabetics.
"This study demonstrates, for the first time, that exercise can begin to reverse some of the early cardiac changes that are commonly found in people with type 2 diabetes," the authors wrote. "Interestingly, the data also suggest that this type of high intensity intermittent exercise benefits both the heart and diabetes control, but the benefits appear to be greatest in the heart."
Another study found that a high protein diet could help type 2 diabetics manage their blood sugar control. Type 2 diabetes patients who followed a diet high in animal protein improved insulin sensitivity, while those who ate plant-based protein saw an improvement in their kidney function. A diet high in potassium has also been shown to protect the heart and kidney health of diabetics.