Type 2 diabetes can seem like a daunting diagnosis. It signals that a person has to make sometimes drastic changes to their lifestyle to ward off the risk of rising blood blood sugar levels. Fortunately, the threat of developing diabetes can be kept at bay if people overhaul their diet. It is well understood that eating vegetables offers a robust defence against serious health complications, but a new study singles out a certain type of vegetable to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Diets high in fruit and vegetables are known to help reduce both cancer and heart disease
According to research published online in the British Medical Journal, eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The authors, led by Patrice Carter at the University of Leicester, said there is a need for further investigation into the potential benefits of green leafy vegetables.
Diets high in fruit and vegetables are known to help reduce both cancer and heart disease, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and diabetes is unclear, said the authors.
The researchers also noted that previous research found that in 2002, 86 per cent of UK adults consumed less than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with 62 per cent consuming less than three portions. The study said that “it was estimated that inadequate consumption of fruit and vegetables could have accounted for 2.6 million deaths worldwide in the year 2000.”
Patrice Carter and colleagues reviewed six studies involving over 220,000 participants that focused on the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and type 2 diabetes.
The results reveal that eating one and a half extra servings of green leafy vegetables a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 per cent. However, eating more fruit and vegetables combined does not significantly affect this risk.
Only a small number of studies were included in the meta-analysis and the benefit of fruit and vegetables as a whole for prevention of type 2 diabetes may have been obscured.
The authors believe that fruit and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases because of their antioxidant content.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach may also act to reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high magnesium content.
The authors argue that “our results support the evidence that ‘foods’ rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health … results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease.”
In conclusion, they believe that offering tailored advice to encourage individuals to eat more green leafy vegetables should be investigated further.
Examples of leafy green vegetables include:
- Collard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Bok choy
In addition to eating healthily, keeping active also slash a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes. This is important as being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
According to Diabetes UK, people should aim to do 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week. Or 15 minutes of vigorous activity five days a week.
As the charity explained: “Moderate activity means a person’s breathing is increased, but they’re still able to talk. It’s things like walking quickly, cycling on flat ground or a leisurely swim.
“Vigorous activity means their breathing is fast and you have difficulty talking. It’s things like running, cycling fast or up hills, or fast swimming.”
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
According to the NHS, symptoms may include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
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