Mediterranean Diet For Type 2 Diabetics

The Mediterranean diet is a nearly a century-old pattern of eating that includes the most popular foods in the Mediterranean countries, including G...

The Mediterranean diet is a nearly a century-old pattern of eating that includes the most popular foods in the Mediterranean countries, including Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy. Although there is no one-size-fits-all way of eating in this region, there are many similarities. Fish, red wine, whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, rice, and pasta are abundant in these countries' diets. In this location, red meat is rarely consumed. Olive oil replaces butter, and salt is replaced with spices and herbs. Food is frequently lightly cooked and little prepared.

Diabetes type 2 is a worldwide epidemic and a significant health threat. Type 2 diabetes is expected to affect 592 million people globally by 2035.  Ongoing cases of impaired glucose tolerance, combined with decreasing mortality, have increased lifetime risk and the number of years spent living with diabetes.

Diabetes prevention and self-management education typically involve nutrition therapy.  The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends the Mediterranean diet for its benefits in glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors, only as an alternative to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate nutrition plan.

Basics of the Mediterranean diet

The basics of the Mediterranean diet essentially entail eating in the manner in which people in the Mediterranean area have traditionally eaten.

The term "diet" evokes images of strict rules to follow, such as calorie counting and excluding food categories that your body requires. Thankfully, you won't discover that when you eat Mediterranean-style. A classic Mediterranean diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and some healthy fats and fish.

What do you eat if you're following a Mediterranean diet?

Dietary guidelines indicate that people consume the following foods:

- Daily, consume more leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes.

- Moderately (weekly) consume lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and eggs.

- Consume few or no red meats and sweets. Red meat is eaten less frequently and in smaller quantities.

- Regularly use extra virgin olive oil.

- Refined foods, far too much sugar, and products with an ingredient list you don't understand should be avoided.

What do you eliminate if you're following a Mediterranean diet?

The following foods should be eliminated by people who follow a Mediterranean diet:

  • Trans fats are found in margarine and other processed foods, refined grains, such as white bread, white pasta, and pizza dough made with white flour.
  • Pastries, drinks, and sweets with added sugars deli meats, hot dogs, as well as other processed meats processed or canned goods.

Guide for people with type 2 diabetes that want to follow a Mediterranean diet

Start with basic substitutions if you're new to the Mediterranean diet.

  • Purchase some high-quality extra virgin olive oil and use it as your primary cooking oil for the first week (instead of butter, lard, or other oils).
  • Add 1 or 2 fish or seafood-based meals and/or 1 or 2 meatless meals to your next week's menu. Healthy snacks and foods, such as hummus and vegetables, as well as fresh or dried fruit, should be available.
  • Replace the dessert with something like a fruit or a handful of dried fruit such as apricots, figs, or cherries for dessert, along with a small piece of traditionally manufactured cheese such as feta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano.
  • Drinking your calories is not a good idea. In the Mediterranean diet, this means drinking more water and replacing calorie-dense beverages with one glass of red wine every now and again.
  • Eliminate canned, highly processed, and fast foods from your diet. Avoiding this type of food is one of the more difficult transitions for many of us in America, and it may take some time. To begin, consider substituting a handmade dinner for a fast-food meal.
  • Dairy and eggs are good sources of protein. Dairy consumption (in moderation) has several health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing diabetes, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Unfortunately, according to the USDA, more than 80% of the population of the United States does not consume enough dairy daily. We're not talking about slathering manufactured cheese on everything. However, instead of chips, try low-fat Greek yogurt as a snack. Toss your salad with feta cheese, or use low-fat Tzatziki sauce instead of mayonnaise or sandwich spread.

Even though the Mediterranean diet is naturally healthier for those with type 2 diabetes, you'll still need to watch your carb intake. Here are some general pointers to bear in mind as you transition.

1. Keep an eye on the legumes

Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are all high in minerals and fiber, but they're also carbs, which will alter your blood sugar levels. That doesn't mean you should avoid them altogether, but you should be conscious of the number of carbs they add to your meal, particularly if you're on insulin.

2. Remember that portion size is still important

Managing glucose levels, blood pressure, and total cholesterol for people with diabetes require weight management. As a result, portion control is essential even if you're consuming healthy foods. Overeating nutritious products like olive oil, whole grains, and legumes can result in excess calories. Instead of consuming infinite amounts, drizzle veggies in 1 tbsp of olive oil (120 calories, 0 g carbs) or stick to a 1/2 cup of brown rice (119 calories, 25 g carbs).

3. Discuss Alcohol with Your Doctor

The Mediterranean diet allows moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine. That doesn't imply it's the best option for you or your health. Consult with your doctor about alcohol and how it may mix with your medication.

Type 2 diabetes and the Mediterranean diet

When living with Type 2 diabetes, one of the most essential things to consider when choosing a diet is how it will affect weight loss and carb intake. The Mediterranean dietary pattern has been proven to aid weight loss. Refined sweets, oils, butter, and processed meats are limited in Mediterranean diets (and processed foods in general). You'll notice that these are all things that people with Type 2 diabetes are recommended to limit or avoid totally, regardless of their diet. 

However, be aware that this diet contains several foods that, if consumed in excess, might cause weight gain. Carbohydrate-heavy foods like whole-grain pasta, potatoes, and brown rice are among them. Fortunately, there are many different versions of the Mediterranean diet, and many of them limit or eliminate high-carb items in favor of healthier alternatives. Portion control of whole-grain pasta or brown rice, for example, can reduce the number of carbohydrates consumed.

Can the Mediterranean diet assist in type 2 diabetes control? 

The evidence up to this point suggests that following a Mediterranean diet can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Additionally, a lower carb, Mediterranean-style diet appears to be beneficial for lowering HbA1c in people who already have diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet has been found to have a good impact on the course of a variety of chronic diseases, in addition to its potential to promote weight loss and reduce carb intake. Its most notable effect is a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in those who adhere to it. In summary, the Mediterranean diet is considered a "heart-healthy" diet. Another reason to adopt the Mediterranean way of eating is that individuals with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease.

A Mediterranean diet protects the heart by decreasing and managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. For individuals with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, eating an olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet for 1.5 years increased arterial blood flow better than a typical low-fat diet. This improvement in vascular performance may assist to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in artery walls. According to other studies, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities of the diet can reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack) by up to 30%.

A quick overview of the Mediterranean diet for Type 2 Diabetes management and prevention

Start incorporating the Mediterranean diet into your daily routine, and you should notice significant improvements in diabetes control and overall health. Making long-term, sustainable dietary adjustments is a requirement of the Mediterranean diet.

A diet rich in natural foods, such as plenty of veggies, whole grains, and nutritious fats, should be the goal. Join our community here for additional tips and ideas on managing your diabetes successfully.