Monday, April 14, 2014

Take Heart: Mediterranean Diet Combats Diabetes, Study Says

Adhering to a so-called Mediterranean diet may reduce your risk of diabetes, especially if you’re at high risk for heart disease.
Thursday, March 27, 2014 (US National Library of Medicine, NIH, National Institutes of Health)

Researchers reviewed 19 studies that included more than 162,000 people in different countries for an average of 5.5 years. The analysis revealed that a Mediterranean diet – which is rich in fish, nuts, vegetables and fruits – was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of diabetes compared with other eating patterns. The risk was reduced even more (27%) among people who were at high risk for heart disease.

“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet may prevent the development of diabetes irrespective of age, sex, race or culture,” lead investigator Demosthenes Panagiotakos, a professor at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, said in a college news release. “This diet has a beneficial effect, even in high-risk groups, and speaks to the fact that is never too late to start eating a healthy diet.”

The number of diabetes cases worldwide has doubled in the past 30 years and this spike has been linked to the growing obesity epidemic. “Diabetes is an ongoing epidemic and its relation to obesity, especially in the Westernized populations, is well known. We have to do something to prevent diabetes and changing our diet may be an effective treatment,” Panagiotakos said.

The Mediterranean diet is an excellent choice for healthy eating and will often reverse many, if not all factors of metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance and diabetes. Of course, these are factors that lead to heart disease. This diet is also easier to follow than the Paleo diet. Many nutritionists recommend combining aspects of the two diets to minimize, or eliminate the grains.

Of note, is Dr. Pangiotakos statement that it is never too late to start. I have seen full blown diabetics, on multiple medications, reverse and even eliminate their disease with this type of diet change. However, the prevailing attitude among diabetics is they can keep eating what ever they want, because the medication controls their blood sugar.

Unfortunately, even a small elevation in the blood glucose levels damages the tissues of the body. The small blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, and the eyes are most susceptible. Neuropathy, loss of circulation to the lower legs, kidney failure, and blindness will follow if not corrected. Medication merely slows the progression of the disease.

The key is really using fresh fruits and vegetables in place of processed foods. When you are grocery shopping, spend most of your time and money on the perimeter of the store. That’s were the real food is placed. The center isles are primarily for processed foods and non-perishables.

There are several good cookbooks following the Mediterranean diet and you can download shopping guidelines from the internet for free.

If you find the Paleo diet too hard to follow, try the Mediterranean diet, or even the Paleo-Mediterranean diet.