Diet: Mediterranean diets highly recommended for diabetes

Diet: Mediterranean diets highly recommended for diabetes

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A comparative study shows the benefits of healthy Mediterranean food

The International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization (WHO) rate type 2 diabetes as one of the most important common diseases. It is estimated that 350 to 400 million people worldwide suffer from this type of diabetes. But the good news with this disease is that an appropriate diet has a positive effect on the course of the disease. The German Institute for Nutritional Research (DIfE) advises diabetics on the Mediterranean diet, as it is a good and healthy way to positively influence sugar metabolism.

A European team led by Lukas Schwingshackl and Heiner Boeing from DIfE compared eight diets in a scientific study to investigate which diet is best suited to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The researchers used an extensive analysis to evaluate the data from 4,937 study participants from 56 nutritional studies. In particular, the effects of nine different diets on fasting and long-term blood sugar levels were compared. The results were published in the "European Journal of Epidemiology".

The new analysis method delivers the results

The researchers looked at which diet had the greatest effect on metabolism compared to the participants' normal diet. With the help of network meta-analysis, a new type of analysis, the scientists have managed to evaluate and compare many different forms of nutrition at the same time. However, the studies included must at least have examined the effects of two different nutritional approaches on the study participants.

What diets have been compared?

The nine diets examined include low-fat, paleo, high-protein, low-carb and Mediterranean diets. The researchers also analyzed vegetarian and vegan food, as well as the effects of diets with a moderate carbohydrate content. In addition, diets with a low glycemic load were examined. Only studies in which the participants were over the age of 18 and followed a certain diet for at least 12 weeks were included in the analysis.

Why is the Mediterranean diet suitable for diabetics?

The Mediterranean diet was best suited to lower the fasting blood sugar level, followed by the paleo diet and the vegan diet. The fasting blood sugar level indicates the amount of blood sugar after a fasting period of at least eight hours, for example in the morning after an eight-hour night's sleep . This value is significantly increased in diabetics. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to help lower the value.

What is the impact of the low carb diet?

The low-carb diet had the greatest impact on long-term blood sugar, also known as HbA1c. This value reflects the blood sugar level in the past eight to twelve weeks. This value is hardly influenced by short-term fluctuations. The value can also contribute to the diagnosis of diabetes. If the HbA1c value is more than 6.5 percent, there is a diabetes disease. Here, too, the Mediterranean diet, but also the paleo diet, had a positive influence on long-term blood sugar levels.

What was the impact of the low-fat diet?

The low-fat diet had the weakest effect on both fasting and long-term blood sugar levels and thus on the overall sugar metabolism. She was able to influence both values ​​positively, but not as strongly as the other diets.

Study results

"Our study shows that a plant-based diet like the Mediterranean diet is a good way to have a beneficial effect on sugar metabolism in people with diabetes," summarizes study author Schwingshackl. The researchers suspect that the phytochemicals and fiber found in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, and legumes can improve patient insulin sensitivity. The production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) can also be reduced as a result. AGEs are sugar-protein compounds that arise, among other things, when the blood sugar levels are too high.

Diet can have a big impact on diabetes

"It has long been known that good blood sugar control is a crucial step in preventing diabetes, such as a heart attack or stroke," explains Heiner Boeing, DIfE department head of epidemiology. According to Boeing, people with diabetes should do as much as possible through their diets to help manage blood sugar. This promotes well-being in a simple way, saves medication and thereby relieves our health system. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: The Mediterranean Diet: Is It Right For You? (June 2022).