A new study, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that people who eat a Mediterranean style diet are 83% less likely than the rest of the general population to develop type 2 diabetes.
83% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. 83% less likely to develop the following complications:
Complications of Type 2 Diabetes
The Mayo Clinic says that type 2 diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when you’re feeling fine. But diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Keeping your blood sugar level close to normal most of the time can dramatically reduce the risk of these complications.
Short-term complications of type 2 diabetes require immediate care. Left untreated, these conditions can cause seizures and loss of consciousness (coma).
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. Check your blood sugar level often, and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar — frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you’ll need to adjust your meal plan, medications or both. If your blood sugar level is persistently above 250 mg/dL, consult your doctor right away or seek emergency care. You might have diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome, a life-threatening condition in which sky-high blood sugar causes blood to become thick and syrupy.
- Increased ketones in your urine (diabetic ketoacidosis). If your cells are starved for energy, your body may begin to break down fat. This produces toxic acids known as ketones. Watch for loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, stomach pain and a sweet, fruity smell on your breath — especially if your blood sugar level has been consistently higher than 250 mg/dL. You can check your urine for excess ketones with an over-the-counter ketones test kit. If you have excess ketones in your urine, consult your doctor right away or seek emergency care.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your blood sugar level drops below your target range, it’s known as low blood sugar. Your blood sugar level can drop for many reasons, including skipping a meal and getting more physical activity than normal. However, low blood sugar is most likely if you take glucose-lowering medications that promote the secretion of insulin or if you’re on insulin therapy. Check your blood sugar level regularly, and watch for early signs and symptoms of low blood sugar — sweating, shakiness, weakness, hunger, dizziness and nausea. Later signs and symptoms include slurred speech, drowsiness and confusion.If you develop hypoglycemia during the night, you might wake with sweat-soaked pajamas or a headache. Thanks to a natural rebound effect, nighttime hypoglycemia might cause an unusually high blood sugar reading first thing in the morning.If you have signs or symptoms of low blood sugar, eat or drink something that will quickly raise your blood sugar level — fruit juice, glucose tablets, hard candy, regular (not diet) soda or another source of sugar. If you lose consciousness, a family member or close contact may need to give you an emergency injection of glucagon, a hormone that stimulates the release of sugar into the blood.
Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually. The earlier you develop type 2 diabetes — and the less controlled your blood sugar — the higher the risk of complications. Eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.
- Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure. In fact, according to a 2007 study, the risk of stroke more than doubles within the first five years of being treated for type 2 diabetes. About 75 percent of people who have diabetes die of some type of heart or blood vessel disease, according to the American Heart Association.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and over a period of months or years gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves that control digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, erectile dysfunction may be an issue.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
- Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections. Severe damage might require toe, foot or even leg amputation.
- Skin and mouth conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial infections, fungal infections and itching. Gum infections also may be a concern, especially if you have a history of poor dental hygiene.
- Osteoporosis. Diabetes may lead to lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk. So what connects the two conditions? One theory is that cardiovascular problems caused by diabetes could contribute to dementia by blocking blood flow to the brain or causing strokes. Other possibilities are that too much insulin in the blood leads to brain-damaging inflammation, or lack of insulin in the brain deprives brain cells of glucose.
Okay; now that I have scared the @#$%&* out of you, here is the good news.
No one needs to suffer from type 2 diabetes.
The researchers in this study followed a group 13,000 former students of the University of Navarra in Spain for 4 years. Keep in mind that these students weren’t all kids with youthful metabolisms; the average age was 38 years old.
The researchers tracked their dietary habits and general health. The volunteers initially completed a food questionnaire to measure their customary diet.
Over the course of the 4 year study, the participants who strictly adhered to a Mediterranean style diet of lots of vegetables,fish and healthy fats (olive oil predominantly), while being low in red meat, dairy products and alcohol had the lowest odds of contracting type 2 diabetes.
Perhaps most exciting was the conclusion that even the high risk individuals in the study, (older people, smokers and those individuals with a family history of diabetes) were able to reduce their chances of developing type 2 diabetes – as long as they stuck with the mediterranean diet.
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