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Mediterranean diet can starve off need for diabetes drugs


NEW YORK While the Mediterranean diet has been said to prevent second heart attacks and delay Alzheimer's disease, new research suggested that the diet may be beneficial to Type 2 diabetes patients.

In the new study, 215 overweight people — newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes — were randomly assigned to either a low-fat diet or a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet.

A Mediterranean diet includes vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, and healthy fats, such as olive oil. In the study, women on the diet were allowed 1,500 calories per day, and men were allowed 1,800 calories per day; no more than 50 percent of calories could come from carbohydrates.

After four years, the researchers from Second University of Naples, in Italy, found that only 44% of the people who stuck to a Mediterranean diet needed blood-sugar-lowering medication, compared with 70% of people who followed the low-fat diet. Unlike people with Type 1 diabetes, who need insulin injections to survive, those with Type 2 can sometimes keep blood-sugar levels in the safe range with diet and exercise alone.

"The people on the Mediterranean diet had better blood-sugar control because of the diet, and the trigger for diabetic drugs is when blood sugar is higher than you want it to be," explained Dr. Christine Laine, the editor of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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