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Did you know COVID-19 isn’t the only Pandemic happening at the moment? Yes that’s right, there’s another pandemic that is present. It’s a silent disease that often goes unnoticed, and its estimated nearly every second adult living with this illness doesn’t know they have it. Can you guess it? It’s Diabetes.  

November 14th marks World Diabetes Day and 100 years of insulin. This year’s theme is better access to care for treatment and prevention. With over 50% of current diagnoses being preventable, we thought we’d put go through all the diets on trend at the moment and evaluate which is best for diabetes management and prevention. 

Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet  

The good: Promotes a high intake of vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy foods, true whole-grains (i.e. with the grain intact), poultry, fish and nuts with a low intake of red meat, sweets, beverages containing sugar and sodium.  

The benefit:  

  • Reduce risk of developing diabetes 
  • Can promote weight loss 
  • Lowers blood pressure 

Low-Carbohydrate Diet  

The good: Promotes a diet rich in low starch vegetables, fats from animal foods, oils, butter, avocados, nuts and seeds, and protein from meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and cheese.  

The bad: Limited in plant foods such as fruit and whole-grains such as pasta, rice and bread. There is also no consistent definition of “low” carbohydrate. A literature review we looked at deemed low carbohydrate to be 26-45% of total energy intake.  

The benefit:  

  • Can reduce HbA1c  
  • Can promote weight loss 
  • Lowers blood pressure 
  • Increases HDL-C and lowers triglyceride levels  

Low-Fat Diet  

The good: Promotes a high intake of vegetables, fruits and whole-grains, as well as lean protein foods including beans, legumes, and low-fat dairy foods. The review we looked at defined low fat as a total fat intake of <30% of total energy intake, and a total saturated fat intake of <10%.  

The benefit:  

  • Reduces risk of developing diabetes  
  • Can promote weight loss  

Vegetarian/Vegan Diet  

The good: (Obviously) promotes a high intake of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products (if vegetarian), legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds.  

The bad: Can put you at risk of some nutrient deficiencies such as omega-3’s, iron, zinc, vitamin B2 and B12, if not done right, particularly if following a vegan diet. 

The benefit:  

  • Reduced risk of developing diabetes  
  • Can reduce HbA1c 
  • Can promote weight loss 
  • Lowers LDL-C and non-HDL-C  

Mediterranean Diet  

The good: Promotes a diet rich in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, true wholegrains, fish, seafood, olive oil as main sauce of dietary fats, and low-moderate amounts of dairy products (mainly yoghurt and cheese), eggs (less than 4/week), red meat, and wine. 

The benefit

  • Reduced risk of developing diabetes  
  • Can reduce HbA1c 
  • Lowers triglyceride levels  
  • Reduce risk of a major cardiovascular event  

The Verdict:

As you can see, each diet has its pros and cons but all have some merit. We find the best diet of them all though is the Mediterranean diet as it has a triple action: to prevent diabetes, manage diabetes and prevent cardiovascular issues.