Diabetes is on the rise in the Philippines and around the world; already, there are too many people who have to make adjustments to their lifestyle in order to manage this condition. But how exactly should you manage it and the complications it causes? Science shows you may want to work on burning more fatty acids (especially if you often stress yourself—and your heart—out) through aerobic exercise.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes suggests that exercising may improve the function of the hearts of patients with type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and the University of Louiseville found that the heart consumes greater amounts of fatty acids when it is stressed (such as when you are exercising), and this improves the heart’s pumping ability and helps mitigate the negative effect of having excess glucose in your system.

The significance of these findings lies in its potential for developing treatments for diabetes. Assistant professor of medicine Miguel Aon, PhD, a senior author of the study from Johns Hopkins is quoted as saying the following on HopkinsMedicine.org: “Our work offers a new view of the role of fatty acids in diabetic hearts under stress and suggests potential new therapies to improve heart function. It has been commonly assumed that fatty acids were detrimental to heart muscle function, but our study showed the opposite to be true in the diabetic heart.”

The researchers studied the hearts from both normal and diabetic mice. First, they fed the mice excess glucose before bathing them in a substance designed to make their hearts beat faster, simulating what would happen if a person was under stress or engaged in intensive physical activity. While the normal mice’s hearts were able to cope with the added glucose, the diabetic mice’s hearts performed more poorly. When the researchers started giving the mice twice as much fatty acids as they usually got, the normal mice’s heart continued to perform at the same level, but the diabetic hearts were able to pump normally. The results suggested that higher levels of fatty acid may be good for diabetic hearts when they need to beat faster.

Given these results, researchers recommend engaging in aerobic exercise if you’re diabetic. Aon explains that this is because aerobic exercise breaks up fatty acids stored in your body, thus giving the heart of a diabetic more (and perhaps sufficient) fuel to run on. Not sure you have enough fatty acids in your system? While oil, butter, and the like are common sources of fatty acids, you should probably opt for healthier options like the omega-3 fatty acids in fish. You can also make it a point to add nuts and flaxseed to your diet.

(Photo by ramasamy chidambaram via sxc.hu)

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