Posted on Mon, 2 Nov 09
Type 2 diabetes is an immense public health problem. Although treatments such as dietary recommendations and medications exist both are imperfect due to factors such as poor treatment response and unwanted side-effects. More effective, lower risk diabetes management approaches are needed. A recent report suggests that regular dietary counselling and a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet can help control diabetes and avert the need for medication.
Current type 2 diabetes management guidelines recommend a combination of dietary and drug management approaches. Emerging evidence suggest s a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet may be more effective for diabetes than a conventional low fat diet. Furthermore it may be possible for a more effective dietary intervention to reduce the need for medication.
A better diet for diabetes
In a 4 year long study 215 overweight people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes received either a low carbohydrate Mediterranean-style diet or a low-fat diet. Participants received frequent counselling sessions from dieticians--monthly for one year, then every two months for three years, and kept food diaries.
After the 4 years patients in the Mediterranean-style diet experienced better improvements in their diabetes and heart disease risk and were less likely to need medication than those receiving the low-fat diet.
Diet first, not medication
This study adds to a growing body of evidence supporting the use of a modified Mediterranean-style diet for the management of chronic diet related diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Regular dietary counselling should be the first line of therapy for newly diagnosed diabetics.
“These findings reinforce the message that benefits of lifestyle interventions should not be overlooked despite the drug-intensive style of medicine fuelled by the current medical literature” commented the study investigators.
1. Esposito K, Maiorino MI, Ciotola M, et al. Effects of a Mediterranean-style diet on the need for antihyperglycemic drug therapy in patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med 2009; 151:306-314.