Does the Mediterranean Diet Reduce the Risk of Diabetes in Women?

Does the Mediterranean diet reduce the risk of diabetes in women?

The Brigham and Women's Hospital's Women's Health Study (WHS) researchers have shown that overweight women can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 30%, adopting a Mediterranean diet style. The WHS is a clinical study that examined the impacts of low-dose vitamin E and aspirin among healthy women in the absence of cardiovascular or neoplastic disease. The study was based on the participants' food diary, measuring potential biomarkers such as insulin resistance, lipoprotein metabolism, body mass index (BMI) and inflammation.

The study of the BMI, the Body Mass Index, however, does not agree with all scholars: some consider it valid, others less so.

More important than just food: the Mediterranean diet it is truly a style of food made up of rules and habits inspired by the Mediterranean tradition in which foods, due to their natural and epidemiological characteristics, are common in your country, Greece and Spain.

But these nations, in addition to sharing food, also share the processes involved in obtaining, cooking and consuming food, as well as other lifestyle factors, such as moderate alcohol consumption, not smoking and being physically active. . Numerous clinical studies have shown that blood glucose and insulin levels rise much more on a low-fat diet than on a reduced-carbohydrate diet.

Insulin's reaction to a Mediterranean-type diet highlights how the insulin response in the hours following lunch is better, favored by an increase in secretion of the incretine.

The advantages of the Mediterranean diet for women, not only concern a more effective glycemic control, but also a beneficial effect on weight, lipid profile and therefore on cardiovascular risk.


Beneficial features of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is mainly focused on the correct choice of foods. As regards the calories, they are indicatively 2500 the daily ones consumed by an adult, divided between the three macronutrients: 55-65% from carbohydrates, 20-30% from lipids and 10-15% from proteins. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by: 

  • Increased consumption of vegetable proteins compared to the animal ones
  • Reduction of animal fats such as butter, lard, in favor of unsaturated vegetable ones such as l'olive oil
  • Increase of complex carbohydrates and strong moderation of the simple ones
  • High fiber intake
  • Reduction in cholesterol intake
  • Reduced consumption of Red meat (limited to a maximum of once a week), and higher consumption of fish and legumes
  • Consumption of eggs and dairy products no more than twice a week
  • Few sweets
  • Reduction in the consumption of: sausages, spirits, white sugar, butter, fatty cheeses, sauces, salt, margarine, pork
  • L'water is the main daily drink, but moderate consumption of is allowed wine with meals

Fiber and glycemic index of pivotal foods

A diet, such as the Mediterranean one, which is based on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can positively influence some key biomarkers and reduce the risk of certain chronic health conditions such as 2 type diabetes.

These biomarkers, such as cholesterol levels and the amount of inflammation, can be influenced by diet and lifestyle. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are the most viable ways to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.

Within the category of whole grains / starchy vegetables, it will certainly be useful to take into account the glycemic index of some foods, particularly suitable for the treatment of diabetes or to reduce the risk of its onset, such as sweet potatoes, barley, quinoa and oats.

Adding more plant fiber to your diet is especially beneficial - there's a special kind of vegetable fiber, Known as psyllium, which is particularly useful for regulating both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Low GI foods help in blood sugar management largely due to their soluble fiber content.

Soluble fiber has a slowing effect on the movement of food through the digestive system and thus leads to a insulin response more modest.


The benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a diet with low fat content, especially saturated ones, sugar and salt, and is therefore the most suitable nutritional profile to come and fight: arteriosclerosis, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, tumors (especially affecting the digestive system, see: diet and cancer) and intestinal motility disorders (i.e. irritable colon). 

Mediterranean diet and diabetes: what and when to eat

What to eat.

  • 5 portions a day of vegetables and fruit
  • Prefer wholemeal bread and pasta
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, three times a week
  • Blue fish, three times a week
  • Lean and white meats, twice a week
  • Low-fat cheeses and dairy products no more than 2 times a week
  • Olive oil (avoid butter, lard, margarine, cream, etc.)
  • Avoid crackers, biscuits, snacks with hydrogenated / partially hydrogenated oils / fats
  • Among the drinks prefer the "diet" ones, without sugar
  • Wine or beer, 1 glass per day for women and 2 for men, during meals.


When to eat.

Eat three main meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner, remembering to break up with two snacks, useful to avoid sitting at the table hungry and consuming too large meals, excessively caloric, and therefore a cause of overweight. As for the post-prandial metabolism, it is necessary to consider the levels of sugars and insulin: if too high, the reduction in the activity of beta cells of the pancreas is more pronounced and the risk of cardiovascular disease is higher. 


Here the skin signs that indicate the presence of diabetes. 

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