Can the Mediterranean diet reverse diabetes?
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular diets in the world, and it's been shown to have many health benefits. However, following a Mediterranean diet can be challenging for people with diabetes.
This article is intended to help those with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes understand the Mediterranean diet better. You will learn about the dietary habits that are helpful for those with diabetes and some foods that are not allowed on a diabetic Mediterranean diet.
The combination of plants, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts can help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
This is because vegetables are low-glycemic carbohydrates that also contain fiber to help regulate blood sugar levels; plant protein helps reduce insulin resistance; fruits provide antioxidants; nuts provide healthy fats; whole grains are high-fiber.
What is diabetes?
- Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder in which the body’s ability to produce or use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, is impaired. This results in high blood glucose levels and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
- Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. It affects more than 30 million people. The number of people with diabetes has increased dramatically over the past few decades.
- In fact, it is estimated that by 2030 there will be 50 million Americans living with diabetes. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, amputations, and death.
What are some symptoms of diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and type 2.
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas stops producing enough insulin. People who have this form of diabetes must take insulin shots daily to control their blood sugar levels.
- People who have type 2 diabetes may not have any symptoms at first. However, they usually develop other complications such as nerve damage, eye damage, and kidney damage.
How does diabetes affect my diet?
- People with diabetes often struggle with eating healthy foods because they find it difficult to balance food choices with their medication schedules.
- For example, people with diabetes should avoid foods containing simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and sweets. These foods make up a large part of many diets. They also contain little fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- However, these foods are important parts of a balanced diet. Therefore, people with diabetes should eat them occasionally but try to limit their intake.
- If you have diabetes, you should also pay attention to how much fat you consume. Fat helps keep your energy level steady. But too much fat means extra calories that add weight.
- You should also watch out for foods that contain added sugars. Sugars are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, and dairy products. But processed foods often contain added sugars.
- These include cookies, cakes, candies, soft drinks, and ice cream. If you want to enjoy sweet treats without adding too many calories, choose low-fat options instead.
- Some people with diabetes may feel better if they follow special meal plans. A registered dietitian can help you design a plan based on your individual needs.
Why the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that has been around for thousands of years. It’s based on what we know about nutrition and health, and it emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts while limiting red meat and refined carbs.
It was developed during the Bronze Age in Greece and Rome. Today, it’s still popular among people in countries like Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, and Greece.
The Mediterranean diet includes lots of olive oil, fish, legumes, fruit, and vegetables. It limits red meats, butter, cheese, and desserts. And it encourages moderate alcohol consumption.
A Mediterranean diet typically includes three meals plus two snacks per day. Each meal consists of a protein source (like chicken or fish) combined with starch (like brown rice or quinoa).
A typical lunch might consist of an entrée salad topped with tuna or salmon, followed by a small portion of a baked potato. For dinner, you could have grilled chicken breast served over steamed broccoli.
Snacks are usually made from whole-grain crackers or pretzels. You can also snack on almonds, olives, dried fruit, or unsalted popcorn.
What makes the Mediterranean diet so good for diabetics?
- When you eat this way, you get plenty of nutrients that support blood sugar control. This includes potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber.
- In addition, some research suggests that following a Mediterranean diet may reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation plays a role in both type 1 and types 2 diabetes.
- Also, people who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Weight loss reduces insulin resistance, which improves blood sugar levels.
So why not just eat more fruits and veggies?
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, they also provide few calories. That's why most people who try to lose weight focus on cutting back on calorie-dense foods like pizza, burgers, and fried food.
But when you do cut these foods out, you won’t be getting enough fiber and other important nutrients.
Plus, there’s no evidence that eating more fruits and vegetables will improve blood glucose control. In fact, studies show that people who consume more fruits and veggies actually have higher fasting blood sugar levels.
How much fat does the Mediterranean diet contain?
- While the Mediterranean diet doesn’t limit saturated fats, it does encourage using olive oil as a cooking oil. Olive oil contains healthy fats called monounsaturated fats.
- These fats help lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. They also help your body absorb certain vitamins, including beta carotene, vitamin E, and folate.
- Olive oil is available in many different varieties, including extra virgin, light, regular, and flavored.
- You should use olive oil in place of vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, sunflower, or safflower. These oils are high in unhealthy trans fats.
- You can also add olive oil to salads, soups, pasta dishes, and stews. Use about 1 tablespoon of olive oil per serving.
Is the Mediterranean diet safe for diabetic patients?
Yes! There’s no reason why a diabetic patient shouldn’t follow the Mediterranean diet.
Diabetes isn’t a disease that requires special diets. But if you have diabetes, you want to make sure you’re getting all the nutrition you need.
That means making smart choices about what you eat. And one of the best ways to do that is by eating a Mediterranean diet.
There are some common misconceptions about the Mediterranean diet
1. It’s a fad diet.
The Mediterranean diet is not a “fad diet,” rather it has been around for thousands of years and has been proven to be effective in preventing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and more.
2. You have to eat lots of olive oil.
Olive oil is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet, but there are many other healthy fats that can be incorporated into your meals.
3. You should avoid all carbs except potatoes.
Carbs such as bread, pasta, rice, fruits, and starchy vegetables are important parts of a healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet includes plenty of these foods while also including whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
The Mediterranean Diet has been proven to help lower blood sugar levels. It also helps with weight loss because of its low-calorie intake. This diet is considered healthy because it contains lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and olive oil.
following a Mediterranean diet can be challenging for people with diabetes. However, the benefits to their health and diet outweigh the challenges.