A new study from Harvard suggests that following a low-carbohydrate diet primarily composed of plant-based foods could lower the risk of premature death in people with type 2 diabetes.
It is the first cohort study to test the link between low-carb diet patterns and mortality among people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Lead author Yang Hu said the study is the first empirical evidence of how low-carb diets can manage the progression of existing diabetes.
The research team analyzed 34 years of health data from 7,224 women and 2,877 men who developed type 2 diabetes while participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The participants answered questionnaires about their lifestyle and medical history every other year, enabling researchers to evaluate their diets’ composition.
The findings showed a 24% reduction in all-cause mortality among those adhering to a low-carbohydrate dietary pattern.
But the biggest benefits found in low-carbohydrate diets focused on plant-based foods and high-quality carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
These diets were also associated with lower mortality from heart disease and cancer.
However, low-carbohydrate diets that emphasized animal products and low-quality carbohydrates, including potatoes, added sugars, and refined grains, were not significantly linked to lower mortality.
The researchers observed the strongest health benefits among people adhering to other healthy habits, such as not smoking, regularly exercising, and drinking alcohol in moderation, alongside a plant-based low-carbohydrate diet.
Senior author Qi Sun emphasized the importance of diet quality in diabetes control and management, stating that the study underscores the need to choose the appropriate diets.
People with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to follow a low-carbohydrate diet focusing on plant-based foods and high-quality carbohydrates to manage the progression of the condition and avoid premature death.
How to live longer in type 2 diabetes
Living with type 2 diabetes can be challenging, but there are ways to improve your overall health and potentially increase your lifespan. Here are some tips:
Manage your blood sugar levels: Keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range by regularly monitoring your blood sugar, taking medications as prescribed, and making dietary and lifestyle changes that can help control blood sugar.
Eat a healthy diet: Focus on eating a well-balanced diet that is high in fiber, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid or limit processed and high-sugar foods.
Get regular exercise: Exercise can help improve blood sugar control, reduce the risk of heart disease, and increase overall fitness.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, as well as strength training exercises.
Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can increase the risk of complications from type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of other health problems.
Quit smoking: Smoking increases the risk of many health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Quitting smoking can improve overall health and increase lifespan.
Manage stress: High levels of stress can affect blood sugar levels and increase the risk of other health problems. Find ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques.
Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help identify and treat any health problems early, before they become more serious.
Overall, managing type 2 diabetes requires a combination of healthy lifestyle habits, medication management, and regular healthcare monitoring.
By taking care of your health and managing your condition, you can improve your quality of life and potentially increase your lifespan.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies about how to prevent heart attack in people with diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in diabetes.
For more information about health, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing oranges may hold the key to reducing obesity and diabetes.
The study was conducted by Yang Hu et al and published in Diabetes Care.
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