Poor diet can contribute to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But which is the right diet to reduce that risk?
People with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar because their bodies do not use insulin effectively to reduce the blood sugar levels.
Results of a recent study have shown that several healthy diets, including the DASH and Mediterranean diets, can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A research team led by Dario Giugliano, MD, PhD, from the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disease from University Hospital in Naples, Italy, conducted this study.
The research team analyzed the results of 18 studies involving 21,372 people to determine the association between diet and type 2 diabetes risk. The age of the participants in the studies ranged from 20 to 90 years old.
The researchers collected data on types of diet consumed, type 2 diabetes diagnoses and factors such as geographic area where the participants lived, gender and how long they were studied to see if they developed type 2 diabetes.
Participants across the 18 studies consumed various diets. In some studies, the subjects ate the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, a healthy diet low in calories and fat in which salt intake is reduced. DASH is designed to lower blood pressure.
In other studies, the subjects ate a Mediterranean diet, a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and healthy fats.
Participants in other studies ate healthy diets that were designed to contain certain types of foods, such as beans, nuts, vegetables, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy products.
Analysis of the 18 studies showed that people who stuck to eating any of the healthy diets had a 20 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes than the people who did not adhere to the healthy diet eating requirements.
The researchers found that people who ate the Mediterranean diet had a 20 percent lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes, and those who ate the DASH diet had a 27 percent lower risk, compared to participants who did not eat a healthy diet.
Two of the groups studied were already at risk for developing diabetes. These two groups — Italian patients with a recent heart attack and US women with diabetes associated with pregnancy (gestational diabetes) — had a 31 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they ate a healthy diet compared to those who did not eat a healthy diet.
The risk of getting type 2 diabetes did not change with type of healthy diet, geographic region or how long the study subjects were followed.
The authors commented that more studies need to be done with groups at risk for developing type 2 diabetes to determine specific diets that might decrease the risk in this population of people.
“Although the diets associated with prevention of type 2 diabetes may vary in their composition, nonetheless they shared several common components, including whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, healthy table oils (i.e., olive oil), protein sources such as white meat and seafood, little or moderate alcohol, and reduced intake of red and processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages,” the authors wrote.
This research was published in the April issue of Endocrine.
Partial funding for the research was provided by the Second University of Naples.
The authors did not declare any conflicts of interest.