In general, there are 2 types of diabetes, namely Type-1 and Type-2. Type-1 is caused by permanent destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This type of diabetes usually appears in patients during the early stage in life. On the other hand, the adoption of sugary and fatty diets and sedentary lifestyle has caused Type-2 diabetes to become an epidemic in developed and developing countries. Without a proper medical treatment, diabetes might lead to kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and even death.
According to the estimation by the International Diabetes Federation, the number of cases, including many adolescents, will raise from 246 million today to 380 million by 2025.
Recently, researchers from the University of Navarra in northern Spain reported in the British Medical Journal on May 29, 2008 that Mediterranean diet, which is believed to benefit the cardiovascular system, also helps protect against diabetes.
Mediterranean diet comprises mainly olive oil, fish, grains, fruit, nuts and vegetables, usually supplemented by a modest amount of red wine. Only a small portion of meat and dairy products are included the diet.
In the study, 13,753 people with graduate-level education were recruited between December 1999 and November 2007. These subjects had no history of diabetes when they were enrolled. Over the following months and years, their health and dietary habits were then tracked in details.
During the follow-up period (an average of 4.4 years over the range of participants), 103 people became diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. A large percentage of these cases are those who did not follow the basics of the Mediterranean diet. Meanwhile, those who adhered to the diet most strictly had a relative reduction of 83 percent in the risk of diabetes.
Interestingly, many people in this group also had accumulated many risk factors for the disease: they were older, were fatter, had a family history of diabetes, more sedentary lifestyle or were ex-smokers. Yet, they appear to have been protected by the diet.
Numerous previous studies have proved that Mediterranean diet helps cardiac and vascular health. A paper published in January 2008 in the British journal Thorax revealed that women who followed the diet while pregnant might also protect their baby from childhood asthma and allergy.