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If you've been following Dr. Gourmet for even a little while, you know that we're all about translating Mediterranean Diet principles for the American kitchen. Hundreds upon hundreds of well-designed studies document the positive effects of a Mediterranean-style diet upon blood pressure, cholesterol scores, and conditions both major and (comparatively) minor as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, pneumonia, and osteoporosis.

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Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Diabetics: stay off medication longer with a Mediterranean Diet



over a dozen coffee drinks, seen from above

Ten years ago I reported on a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed that following a Mediterranean-style diet would help those diagnosed with diabetes avoid being put on medication longer than if they followed a low fat diet like that recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

That research combined a Mediterranean-style diet with weight loss: the participants were limited to 1800 calories per day for men and 1500 calories per day for women (interestingly, those on the Mediterranean-style diet lost more weight than those on the low-fat diet). One could argue that part of the reason participants avoided medication was because they lost weight.

Then just five years ago I shared with you a study that showed that a Mediterranean-style diet meant participants were 30% less likely to develop diabetes than those following a low-fat diet, even though none of the participants lost weight.

The authors of this study made use of data gathered for the PREDIMED study, the same study that I reported on five years ago (just above). Briefly, in this long term, large-scale study one group of participants followed a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, one group followed a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with nuts, and a third group followed a low-fat diet.

For their analysis the authors focused on those over 3,000 participants who entered the study with a diagnosis of diabetes who were not being treated with insulin.

After an average follow-up period of just over 3 years, about 700 of those participants reported starting glucose-lowering medications or insulin therapy.

After taking into account age, sex, Body Mass Index, total caloric intake, smoking status, physical activity, and conditions such as high blood pressure or poor cholesterol scores, the authors found that compared to those who followed the low-fat diet, those following a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil were 22% less likely to need medication and those following a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with nuts were 11% less likely to need to start glucose-lowering medication.

Taken together, those diabetics following either Mediterranean-style diet were 17% less likely to need medication.

Again, the PREDIMED study did not direct participants to cut calories or increase physical activity, and indeed, generally speaking the participants maintained their weight. The decision to start glucose-lowering medication was left to the individual participant's physicians, not the researchers.

What this means for you

We have known that a Mediterranean-style diet can help you avoid becoming diabetic, but this research shows that if you do become diabetic, it can help you control your condition without medication for longer. What is a Mediterranean-style diet?

First posted: December 18, 2019