Diabetes is characterized by the presence of excess sugar in the blood and its treatment is based on a balanced diet. A recent study shows that food also has a role to play in its prevention, and more particularly that approaching the Mediterranean diet whose benefits are already well known.

For several years now, the Mediterranean diet has aroused the interest of the medical community for several reasons, including its potential ability to decrease the frequency and severity of cardiovascular disease and its positive effect on healthy life expectancy. A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital shows that this diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds would be effective in fighting type 2 diabetes. Also called "Non-insulin-dependent diabetes", this is the most common form of diabetes, of which overweight and obesity are the main cause.

For this study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers examined data from 25,000 women participating in the Women's Health Study, a cohort study that followed health professionals for 20 years. The results showed that women whose diet was found to be closest to the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to women who did not follow this diet. Several biomarkers have been examined for an explanation, and the main hypothesis relates to key mechanisms such as insulin resistance, body mass index and inflammation.

To put on the plate: fruits, vegetables, cereals, nuts ...

"Our results support the idea that by improving their diet, people may improve their future risk of type 2 diabetes, especially if they are overweight or have obesity," the statement said in a statement. Prof. Samia Mora, the main author of the study. “A lot of the benefits we're seeing can be explained in a few ways. And it's also important to note that many of these changes won't happen right away, because while metabolism may change over a short period of time, our work indicates that it is longer term changes that may provide. protection for decades. "

The participants were recruited between 1992 and 1995 and their data was collected until December 2017. The participants were asked to complete questionnaires on their food intake at the start of the study and to answer other questions about their food intake. lifestyle and their medical history. Finally, more than 28,000 women provided blood samples at the start of the study. The researchers used the responses to the food questionnaires and analyzed the blood samples to study the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes and for this assigned each participant a Mediterranean diet score ranging from 0 to 9.

A diet that prevents insulin resistance

Each point was awarded for a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and fish and a moderate consumption of alcohol and red or processed meat. The researchers also measured a range of biomarkers, some traditional such as cholesterol levels and other more specific ones such as lipoproteins (molecules that pack and transport fats and proteins) and resistance to insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas), a condition considered to be a precursor of diabetes: this hormone has the role of facilitating the penetration of glucose into cells, which decreases their blood concentration.

The results indicate that out of more than 25,000 participants, 2,307 developed type 2 diabetes. But participants with a Mediterranean diet score greater than or equal to 6 at the start of the study were 30% less likely. develop this pathology, compared to those with a score less than or equal to 3. This effect was only observed in participants with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 (range of overweight or obesity ) and not in participants with a BMI below this number. Analysis of biomarkers has shown that insulin resistance appears to be the main risk reduction factor.

"Most of this reduced risk associated with the Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes has been explained by biomarkers linked to insulin resistance, adiposity, lipoprotein metabolism and inflammation", specify Researchers. Gaining a better understanding of how this diet can help reduce the risk of diabetes, they say, can be very helpful in preventative medicine and for physicians talking to patients about dietary changes. Because diabetes remains the modification of lifestyle habits, including a balanced diet and weight loss when necessary.