According to a study in Diabetologia, the Mediterranean diet and a diet low in carbohydrates lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to ScienceDaily.com, the study authors studied a total of 22,295 participants in Greece over a period of slightly more than 11 years. During this time, 2,330 cases of type 2 diabetes were reported. To assess dietary habits, participants completed a questionnaire which rated patients on a 10-point Mediterranean Diet Score and a similar Glycemic Load (carbohydrate) scale.
ScienceDaily.com reports that people with a Mediterranean Diet Score of more than 6 were 12 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest, which was 3 or less. Patients with the highest available Glycemic Load in their diet were 21 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest. A high Mediterranean Diet Score combined with low Glycemic Load reduced the chances of developing diabetes by 20 percent when compared to a diet with a low Mediterranean Diet Score and high Glycemic Load.
"The role of the Mediterranean diet in weight control is still controversial, and in most studies from Mediterranean countries the adherence to the Mediterranean diet was unrelated to overweight," the study's author's told ScienceDaily.com. "This suggests that the protection of the Mediterranean diet against diabetes is not through weight control, but through several dietary characteristics of the Mediterranean diet. However, this issue is difficult to address in cohort studies because of the lack of information on weight changes during follow-up that are rarely recorded."
Study authors stated that the Mediterranean diet uses extra virgin olive oil, which leads to a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids, according to ScienceDaily.com. Research into this fact's effect is conflicting. One review of dietary fat and diabetes suggests that replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats has beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, in a randomized trial of individuals with high risk of cardiovascular problems, there was no difference in diabetes occurrence in the low-fat diet group and the group assigned to the Mediterranean diet.
"High GL diet leads to rapid rises in blood glucose and insulin levels," the authors stated on ScienceDaily.com. "The chronically increased insulin demand may eventually result in pancreatic β cell failure and, as a consequence, impaired glucose tolerance and increased insulin resistance, which is a predictor of diabetes. A high dietary GL has also been unfavourably related to glycaemic control in individuals with diabetes."
In other words, diets with lots of carbohydrates causes blood sugar and insulin levels to skyrocket, and the resulting demands on the pancreas may cause its cells to fail, resulting in difficulty processing sugar and insulin, which in turn can predict diabetes. In addition, a high-carbohydrate diet causes diabetics to have problems controlling their blood sugar.
The authors concluded "A low GL diet that also adequately adheres to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet may reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes."
Image Source: Becky Oberg