Healthy eating linked with reduced diabetes levels

By Sophie Bruno

- Last updated on GMT

'Whilst dietary recommendations have shifted towards prescribing diets higher in protein for diabetes management, the impact on diabetes prevention remains controversial.' ©iStock
'Whilst dietary recommendations have shifted towards prescribing diets higher in protein for diabetes management, the impact on diabetes prevention remains controversial.' ©iStock

Related tags: Nutrition

Fresh research from years 1-4 of the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme has investigated the association between anti-inflammatory and antioxidant dietary patterns in reducing the onset of diabetes and looked at carb-protein ratios.

The study identified a dietary pattern that is inversely associated with biomarkers of inflammation and positively linked with biomarkers of antioxidant status.

The preventive dietary pattern was characterised by an elevated consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish, in conjunction with a low intake of chips, sugar and white bread; these foods, in combination, were associated with a reduced prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

The research supported the correlation that exists between greater BMI, body fat distribution and diabetes development.

Suzana Almoosawi, co-author and researcher at Newcastle University told us “most research to date has focused on the health benefits of specific foods, ignoring possible interactions with others”.  

Study details

1,531 subjects, whose diets were examined using a 4-day estimated food diary, had fasting blood samples collected for measurements of glycosylated haemoglobin, a key diabetes indicator. Other clinical parameters were also collected, including height and weight measurements.  

This dietary pattern was characterised, at a biomarker level, by an inverse association to serum C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation and a positive one to plasma total carotenoids, a marker of antioxidant status, highlighting the potential of this diet in reducing diabetes.

Protein v carbs

With regards to the protein versus carbohydrate finding, Dr Almoosawi specified that although this is an interesting yet unexpected finding, she cautioned against inferring strong conclusions due to the cross-sectional study design.  

More research will be needed to understand if varying protein intake could impact diabetes prevalence, and to clarify if the source of protein, whether of animal or plant origin, is significant,” ​Dr Almoosawi said.

“Indeed, whilst dietary recommendations have shifted towards prescribing diets higher in protein for diabetes management, the impact on diabetes prevention remains controversial”. 

This study underlines the necessity for further intervention studies that measure biomarkers of glucose metabolism to better understand the overall framework within which various foods interact to affect metabolic pathways related to diabetes risk.

“Such research will undoubtedly form the basis for developing public health policies that take into consideration the complex nature of diet, shifting the paradigm towards a more holistic view of nutrition”, ​concluded the team.

Source: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition

May 2016, 67:5, 553-561, DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1179268

“Association between an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant dietary pattern and diabetes in British adults: results from the national diet and nutrition survey rolling programme years 1–4”

L. McGeoghegan, C. R. Muirhead & S. Almoosawi

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