Better diet helps diabetics improve blood sugar control

SYDNEY - Providing intensive dietary advice improved blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics even when they were arguably on the best available medication, according to the latest research.

The six-month study by Otago University’s (OU) Edgar National Centre for Diabetes Research divided 87 high-risk diabetes patients into two groups.

Both received optimised medical care, but patients in one of the groups also received regular one-on-one dietary advice from a dietician.

Lead investigator Kirsten Coppell said that at the end of the study, measures of glycaemic control were found to have significantly improved in the group receiving the advice.

The group also recorded an average weight loss of two kg and a three centimetre reduction in waist lines.

“Achieving good glycaemic (blood glucose) control is a crucial goal in managing diabetes, as it can prevent long-term complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, amputation and blindness,” Coppell says.

“Before the widespread introduction of anti-diabetic drugs, the key focus in diabetes care was on diet and lifestyle. Our research indicates that while this earlier approach has tended to be forgotten in this modern age of a ‘pill for every ill’, it still very much has its place in diabetes management.”

Rather than focusing on a strict diet, nutritional advice in the study was tailored to match each individual’s socio-economic and cultural circumstances, said an OU release.

It involved elements such as encouraging smaller meals, reducing unhealthy components in their diets while eating more fruit and vegetables, she says.

Coppell will present the preliminary results at the New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes conference at OU.

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