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Which Diet Best For Diabetic Patient?

Posted by drg. Ardyan Gilang Rahmadhan SKG. On 10:17 PM

Researchers compared two popular diets head-to-head - a low-fat American Heart Association-style diet and a carb-controlled Mediterranean diet in a population of overweight patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Which one of these best for diabetic patient?

Over the four-year study, they finally found that Mediterranean-style eating plan maintained lower blood sugar levels for a longer time than those in the low-fat-diet group, both combined with regular physical activity. Based on this findings, the study's authors suggest that some diabetes patients may be able to substitute diet and exercise for blood-sugar-lowering medications.

The study involved 215 overweight adults in Naples, Italy, who were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Patients were randomly divided into two diet groups: The low-fat eaters were instructed to follow a regimen rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low in additional fats, sweets or high-fat snacks; no more than 30% of daily calories were to come from fat, and no more than 10% from saturated fat. The Mediterranean-diet group was taught to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and "healthy" fat, including olive oil, with an emphasis on lean protein sources such as fish, chicken and nuts. Mediterranean dieters were instructed to limit carbohydrate intake to less than 50% of their daily calories.

By the end of the study 56% of patients following the Mediterranean diet were able to control their blood sugar without medication, compared with 30% of those on the low-fat regimen. The Mediterranean dieters were also able to maintain slightly more weight loss than the low-fat group - 8.4 lb. versus 7.1 lb. - and showed small improvements in triglyceride and HDL cholesterol (the good kind) levels, both risk factors for heart disease.

While diabetes doctors generally agree that the first line of defense against type 2 diabetes should always be exercise and diet, many recommend also using drugs. For its part, the American Diabetes Association advises patients with type 2 diabetes to make appropriate lifestyle changes, and to start a drug regimen immediately upon diagnosis. Dr. R. Paul Robertson, spokesperson for the organization, says that for people with diabetes, "the goal should not be to avoid drugs. It is to do everything you can to keep your sugar levels down."

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