Type 2 diabetes, if untreated, can cause a wide-range of serious health complications, such as a heart attack or stroke. It can also inflict damage on another vital organ – the brain. Joseph C. Masdeu, MD, PhD, of the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute, explained: “With diabetes, you have an increased risk of damage to blood vessels over time, including damage to the small blood vessels in the brain. This damage affects the brain’s white matter.” Brain impairment is associated with a number of conditions. The longer people live with diabetes, the more chance they have of developing dementia, for example, he adds.
According to a recent US study published in the journal Diabetes Care, a Mediterranean diet could improve the memory and cognitive function of people with type 2 diabetes.
The diet consists of vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, seeds and healthy fats, and has previously been linked to improved brain and heart health and also a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The aim of the study, conducted by Boston-based Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was to investigate whether its positive impact on cognitive function differs depending on whether or not people have type 2 diabetes.
In the study, the team analysed 913 people from the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study over a two-year period, examining their diet, cognitive function and memory. They were also tested for type 2 diabetes.
Eating habits were recorded according to the Mediterranean diet score, Healthy Eating Index, Alternate Healthy Eating Index, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension score.
As reported in Diabetes.co.uk, the findings revealed those with type 2 diabetes who adhered closely to the Mediterranean diet experienced improved cognitive function compared with their counterparts not on the diet. These improvements included word recognition as well as clock drawing skills.
Diabetes UK recommends trying the following seven-day Mediterranean meal plan:
- Breakfast: Bircher muesli
- Lunch: Hearty minestrone soup
- Dinner: Grilled lemon and chilli chicken with couscous and spinach, lemon and feta salad
- Pudding: Full of fruit sundaes
- Choose from snacks including fruit, nuts and low-fat yogurt.
- Breakfast: Avocado, banana and cashew toast
- Lunch: Mediterranean pasta salad
- Dinner: Cod Portugaise with boiled new potatoes and side salad
- Pudding: Low-fat yogurt
- Choose from snacks including fruit and oatcakes and low-fat cottage cheese.
- Breakfast: Almond, apricot and pumpkin seed granola
- Lunch: Hearty Spanish omelettewith salad
- Dinner: Galician stew with roasted butternut squash
- Pudding: Medium banana
- Choose from snacks including fruit, low-fat yogurt, nuts and oatcakes with mushroom pate.