Recently, there’s literally been an explosion in the incidence of type 2 diabetes globally so every effort is being explored to try and manage this chronic disorder that is responsible for a huge increase in medical costs, morbidity, and premature death. Can diet play a role?
That’s what a recent study published in the journal Diabetologica wanted to understand. The study looked at 22,295 participants living in Greece and followed them for an average of 11 years. After the study period, there were 2,330 cases of type 2 diabetes. The researchers used a questionnaire to analyze the diets of the participants, rating the diets on a 10-point scale, for how close it resembled the Mediterranean diet.
The results of the study indicated that for those participants who had a Mediterranean diet score of greater than six, the chances of them developing diabetes was reduced compared with those participants who had a score of three or less.
In addition, the participants who ate carbohydrates that were higher on the glycemic index were more likely to develop diabetes than people who ate low-glycemic index carbs.
The best diet? Participants who consumed a more Mediterranean-style diet and ate low-glycemic index carbs had a 20% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to participants who consumed the opposite diet.
The interesting aspect of this study was that since the researchers controlled for weight, the Mediterranean-style and low-glycemic food diets could not be explained by weight loss.
This type of diet was effective at lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes because the consumption of oily fish, lean protein, vegetables, fruit, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, and yogurt improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood glucose, decreases inflammation, cholesterol, blood clotting, and blood pressure.
These conditions are all related to metabolic syndrome which occurs before a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is made. The intake of low-glycemic load carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes keeps blood sugar regulated, insulin levels low, and prevents the rise in insulin resistance, body fat gain, and blood pressure which are early warning signs of impending metabolic dysfunction and diabetes.
In my opinion, this type of diet is not only effective in the prevention of type 2 diabetes but is also beneficial to prevent diseases like heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. In my view, to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, eat small, complete meals every three to four hours consisting of a low-glycemic carbohydrate (like vegetables or a whole grain), a lean protein (like salmon, yogurt, poultry or turkey), whole fruit, and healthy fats (like olive oil or nuts).
Nainggolan, L., “Combo of Low GL, Mediterranean Diet Protect for Diabetes,” Medscape web site, August 15, 2013; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/809506, last accessed August 30, 2013.
Rossi, M., et al., “Mediterranean diet and glycaemic load in relation to incidence of type 2 diabetes: results from the Greek cohort of the population-based European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC),” DiabetologicaAugust 2013.