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Food and lifestyle advice should be the same for people with or without diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
People with diabetes should be given the same advice as everyone else about diet and lifestyle, suggests new study.

A new study published in the journal Diabetologia suggests people with diabetes can follow the same diet and lifestyle advice as the general population. Researchers for the study say diabetics can benefit from exercise and healthy eating even more than people without the disease. however.

The point the researchers are making is that whether you have diabetes or do not, advice for making food choices, exercise and avoidance of activities that harm health should be the same for everyone.

As anyone being treated for diabetes knows, it's important to watch your food portions and give your body quality fuel - just like everyone else. It's also important to understand your own needs and blood sugar response.

Dr. Diewertje Sluik, Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal, Germany, and colleagues.investigated eating habits and lifestyle among people with and without the disease to compare mortality rates.

They discovered anyone who eats unhealthy foods and engages in harmful activities or is sedentary has a higher risk of mortality.

For instance, below is a video about vegetables for diabetes. But, shouldn't everyone be eating plenty of these? Of course we should!

Though death rates were higher among those with diabetes, people with and without the disease suffered the same consequences from overindulging in butter, alcohol, smoking, being inactive and having a high body mass index, leading the authors to recommend diabetics should receive the same information about healthy eating and lifestyle as everyone else.

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The suggestion is a welcome variance from assuming people without diabetes should and can eat whatever they want and still live a long life. It just isn't so.

The study

For their investigation the researchers looked at a cohort group of European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) that included 6,384 persons with diabetes and 258,911 participants without known diabetes.

A computer model was used to explore body-mass index, waist/height ratio, 26 food groups, alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity and smoking and risk of dying for people with and without diabetes.

Fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry and vegetable oil was associated with a longer life for everyone. Not surprisingly, the researchers said, was that mortality rates were 62 percent higher for those with diabetes than those without - but both groups lived longer with healthy eating and lifestyle.

No differences between people with and without diabetes were found for smoking, drinking alcohol, physical activity or body fat related to mortality risk between the two cohorts.

The authors say: "It appears that the intake of some food groups is more beneficial (fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry, vegetable oil) or more detrimental (soft drinks, butter, margarine, cake, cookies) with respect to mortality risk in people with diabetes. This may indicate that individuals with diabetes may benefit more from a healthy diet than people without diabetes. However, since the directions of association were generally the same, recommendations for a healthy diet should be similar for people with or without diabetes."

The study suggests people with diabetes should follow guidelines for healthy eating, activity and other lifestyle factors that everyone shares. The big difference between people with and without the disease is that diabetics get even more benefit from making healthy choices.

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