The incidence of diabetes has skyrocketed globally in the last 3 decades. Further, there are millions more individuals with diabetes that have not been diagnosed. To date, the treatment of type 2 diabetes is done with drugs and sometimes insulin.
Now, there is some evidence that by consuming a low carbohydrate Mediterranean diet, recently diagnosed diabetic patients may postpone the need for pharmaceutical drugs to control this chronic disorder.
There has been a lot of evidence gathered over the past 2 decades that the Mediterranean diet does improve risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Further, the American Diabetes Association fervently advocates a low carb or a low fat diet in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, there have not been many studies that have compared the two diets in diabetic individuals.
A recent study from Italy just published has fascinating results (Annals of Internal Medicine (Sept 1, 2009).
To evaluate the effectiveness of these two accepted diets in delaying anti diabetic drug therapy, researchers in Italy studied 215 obese patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. All patients had sedentary lifestyles, had a body mass index > 25 kg/m2, and had a HbA1c of between 7-11%. The conclusion of the study was to look at the time when anti diabetic drugs were introduced to control blood sugars.
Other data also looked at weight changes, control of blood pressure and levels of blood glucose and cholesterol. All individuals received regular solid advice from dietitians on the value of diet and exercise and were educated how to make different diets at home.
The individuals in the study were then arbitrarily allocated to one of the following diets for four years:
• A Mediterranean diet that consisted of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, less red meat but ample poultry, fish. Less than 30 percent of calories were from derived from olive oil.
• A low-fat diet based on American Heart Association recommendations that included whole grains, high fat snacks, and limited number of sweet foods. Less than thirty percent of calories were obtained from fat.