Type 2 Diabetes and the Mediterranean Diet

Type 2 Diabetes and the Mediterranean Diet: Common sense would lead many individuals to conclude that it is possible to make lifestyle alterations to effectively manage Type 2 diabetes. Physicians have been telling patients to change eating habits for years. A new study from Italy shows the importance of such lifestyle alterations.

A study based on a four-year trial was published early this month in the Annuls of Internal Medicine. It suggests that the Mediterranean diet may provide a better overall result than a low fat diet. Dr Christine Laine is the editor of the published report. She told heartwire (an affiliate site of WebMD), “The study confirms that lifestyle changes are a basic part of managing diabetes [and] suggests that people might be better off if the dietary advice they receive is in line with the Mediterranean diet.”

It’s possible you’ve never heard of the diet Dr. Laine mentioned. The American Heart Association (AHA) provides a list of the most common traits in a Mediterranean diet.

  • High consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
  • Dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
  • Eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
  • Wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

In the recently released study it was noted that patients were placed on either a low fat or Mediterranean diet. This appears to be the first time these two diet plans were put head-to-head in an effort to establish a superior alternative food plan for those with Type 2 diabetes.

Patients received a substantial amount of counseling related to the foods they ate and how that food was prepared. Patients who participated in either group (low fat or Mediterranean) lost weight and saw a drop in the blood sugar levels, but the beneficial effects were more pronounced among those placed on the Mediterranean diet.

heartwire indicates, “The Mediterranean diet delayed the need for antihypertensive drug therapy independent of weight change. More participants in the Mediterranean diet met all three ADA goals and had consistently greater increases in HDL-cholesterol levels and decreases in triglycerides.”

SAWFNews indicates, “The trial tracked 215 overweight people between the ages of 30 and 75 who were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and had never been treated with antihyperglycemic drugs.”

It is true that a medical journal reported in 2008 that the Mediterranean diet is helpful for those who live with diabetes. This study was simply constructed to track the overall health benefits.

It may be tempting to believe that any drug therapies can be abandoned if an individual is willing to commit to using a Mediterranean diet. However the, “American Diabetes Association recommends that patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes be treated with pharmacotherapy as well as lifestyle changes… Lifestyle changes are often inadequate because patients do not lose weight or regain weight or their diabetes worsens independent of weight,” according to SAWFNews.com.

Dr Elizabeth Klodas, editor-in-chief of Cardiosmart.org is quoted as saying, “I don’t think we spend enough time teaching patients about diet and lifestyle and really reinforcing what a big difference that can make to their outcomes. [Patient management is] a synergistic combination between lifestyle change and medical therapy, and if we just concentrate on medical therapy alone we’ll never obtain the best possible outcomes.”

It would appear that what goes into our body really can make a difference in how we feel and how we live.