Fresh fruits and vegetables may be an effective way to improve health for people with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published today in the Journal of Nutrition.
Researchers at the George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Sydney found that people with type 2 diabetes and high blood sugar who participated in the “grocery recipes” program for 12 weeks ate nearly two extra servings of fruits and vegetables a day. They also lost 1.7 kg and lowered their LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol” that causes heart disease) levels by 10%.
Study lead author Jason Wu, head of nutrition science at the George Institute and professor at UNSW Medicine & Health’s School of Population Health, said this is the first major study in Australia demonstrating the potential of “food as medicine” to help doctors and patients do better. cope with nutrition-related illnesses.
“We know that good nutrition is key to maintaining health. But only one in 20 Australians consume enough fruits and vegetables, and many have difficulty accessing healthy food, especially those in the most disadvantaged communities,” he said.
“Unhealthy diets are now responsible for more than 20,000 premature deaths a year in Australia and untold suffering for patients and their loved ones.”
To test the prescription for Public Health Australia, researchers partnered with medical specialists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney to recruit 50 people with type 2 diabetes who were experiencing food insecurity. Each participant received a healthy food box designed by nutritionists, recipe ideas, and the opportunity to visit a nutritionist once every two weeks.
After 12 weeks, the participants’ nutrition, blood cholesterol levels, and body weight improved significantly. The majority (96%) of the participants stated that the program was helpful or extremely helpful in improving the nutrition of themselves and their families, and that they were willing to pay to continue the program.
“Our study shows that prescribing healthy foods is not only very promising for improving the nutrition and health of people with type 2 diabetes, but is also very popular. Next, we need to expand and evaluate this program in larger studies to confirm its health benefits,” Dr. Wu said.
There is growing recognition that health systems need to do more to prevent and treat diet-related diseases, and the current model of relying primarily on drugs to treat such diseases is not enough. In the US, healthy eating and meal prescribing programs are already being integrated into the health care system. Paid for by the government and health care providers, they offer promising health benefits and even lower overall health care costs.
Tristan Harris, CEO of Harris Farms, which supplied the healthy foods used in the study, said:
“We are thrilled to partner with Professor Wu and the George Institute to prove that good food is the cure and to help reduce the unnecessary burden of disease associated with unhealthy diets and the spiraling health care costs associated with it. This is the healthiest approach to health.” that one can only imagine.”