Adopting a healthier diet can help lower type 2 diabetes risk over time, while a worsening diet increases the risk, finds a new U.S. study.
The researchers, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, analyzed data on more than 124,000 adults who did not have diabetes at the start of three large, long-term studies and who were followed for at least 20 years. Participants rated their diet quality on a healthy eating index every four years.
Worsening diet over time ups diabetes risk by on-third
There were 9,361 cases of type 2 diabetes during the studies. When dietary quality scores declined by more than 10 percent between four-year surveys, diabetes risk went up by about 34 percent, the researchers found.
Improving diet quality by the same amount led to a 16 percent decrease in diabetes risk.
Cumulative scientific evidence has supported that improving and maintaining a healthful diet is beneficial for long-term chronic disease prevention.
Improving diet was associated with decreased diabetes risk regardless of how a person ate at the start of the study or how much excess weight they carried. Over time, losing weight explained some, but not all, of the change in diabetes risk.
A healthy diet defined
A “healthier” diet included higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes and lower intakes of red or processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juice, trans fat and sodium, as well as moderate alcohol consumption.
Improving overall diet quality as an adult regardless of where you start, whether you have poor or better initial diet quality, seems to be beneficial for diabetes prevention,
Three key points to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes are: stay lean, follow a healthy diet and include plenty and large variety of vegetables.
Source: Diabetes Care, online September 9, 2016.
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