The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of diabetes by 30 percent

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A study that obtained its results after a follow-up of 22 years shows that the Mediterranean diet has a role to play in the prevention of diabetes, the benefits of which are already well known. Diabetes is characterized by the presence of excess sugar in the blood and its treatment is based on a balanced diet.

For several years now, the Mediterranean diet has attracted the interest of the medical community for a number of reasons, including its potential ability to decrease the frequency and severity of cardiovascular disease and its positive effect on healthy life expectancy. A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Womens Hospital shows that this diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds would be effective in fighting type 2 diabetes. Also called "Non-insulin dependent diabetes", this is the most common form of diabetes, of which being overweight and obese are the main causes.

For this study, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, the researchers examined data from 25,000 women who participated in the Womens Health Study, a cohort study that followed health professionals for 20 years. The results showed that women whose diets were found to be closer to the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to women who did not follow the diet. Several biomarkers have been examined for an explanation, and the main hypothesis relates to key mechanisms such as insulin resistance, body mass index, and inflammation.

To put on the plate: vegetables, cereals, nuts, lean meats

"Our results support the idea that by improving their diet, people can improve their future risk of type 2 diabetes, especially if they are overweight or obese," said study lead author Prof. Samia Mora in a statement. "Many of the benefits that we are seeing can be explained in a number of ways. And it is also important to note that many of these changes will not happen immediately, because while metabolism can change in a short period of time, our work indicates that it is the longer-term changes that can provide protection for decades. "

Participants were recruited between 1992 and 1995 and their data was collected through December 2017. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their food intake at the beginning of the study and to answer other questions about their food intake. lifestyle and your medical history. Finally, more than 28,000 women provided blood samples at the beginning of the study. The researchers used the responses to the dietary questionnaires and analyzed the blood samples to study the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes, assigning each participant a Mediterranean diet score that ranged from 0 to 9.

Each point was awarded for a high consumption of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and fish and a moderate consumption of alcohol and red or processed meat. The researchers measured in parallel a range of biomarkers, some traditional like cholesterol and others more specific like lipoproteins (molecules that pack and transport fats and proteins) and insulin resistance (a hormone secreted by the pancreas), a condition considered precursor of diabetes: this hormone has the function of facilitating the penetration of glucose into cells, which reduces its concentration in the blood.

The results indicate that out of more than 25,000 participants, 2,307 developed type 2 diabetes. However, participants with a Mediterranean diet score of 6 or higher at the start of the study were 30% less likely to develop this condition, compared to those with a score less than or equal to 3. This effect was only observed in participants with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 (range of overweight or obesity) and not in participants with a BMI below this number. Biomarker analysis has shown that insulin resistance appears to be the main risk reduction factor.

"Most of this reduced risk associated with the Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes has been explained by biomarkers linked to insulin resistance, adiposity, lipoprotein metabolism and inflammation," they specify. Gaining a better understanding of how this diet can help reduce the risk of diabetes, they say, can be very helpful in preventive medicine and for doctors talking to patients about dietary changes. Because diabetes is still the modification of lifestyle habits, including a balanced diet and weight loss when needed.

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