Diabetes, a global epidemic

One of the major health problems in the world are chronic diseases, including diabetes and obesity, two closely related conditions that have given rise to a global epidemic known as diabesity.

Dr. Iria Rodríguez, specialist in endocrinology and nutrition at the HM Model Hospitalexplains that most people with type 2 diabetes mellitus are also overweight or obese, which is the main risk factor for a patient to develop type 2 diabetes. “But we must not lose sight of – indicates the doctor- that diabetes and obesity are also associated with many other diseases such as high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, fatty liver disease (or steatosis liver) and even some types of cancer, and they also increase cardiovascular risk and even death.

Iria Rodriguez
Dr. Iria Rodriguez

In this spirit, as a preventive measure, the HM Hospitals doctor undertakes to maintain an adequate weight, to lead a healthy life, with regular physical activity adapted to the individual situation of each person, including weight training and Healthy eating. . In this sense, scientific studies have shown that plant-based diets such as our Mediterranean diet but also the vegetarian, DASH and low carbohydrate diet control these cardiovascular risk factors much better. Positive effects have also been seen with intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet in diabetic patients. “But, concretely, our Mediterranean diet, which generates a great benefit on type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, is the easiest to achieve and maintain over the long term”, specifies the specialist.

It must be taken into account that there are other more difficult factors to control related to obesity and type 2 diabetes, such as age, genetics, race and certain medications, so “it is advisable to taking care of those who are in our hands, which is fundamentally the way of life”, emphasizes Dr. Rodríguez.

The importance of prevention

Once the patient is already diabetic, a significant loss of weight and mainly body fat, monitored by a medical professional, is a fundamental part of the treatment. “We can lose weight mainly with changes in our lifestyle, but when these are not enough, we have the possibility of combining them with drugs with proven efficacy which not only help with weight loss and control the glycemia, but also produce benefits at the cardiovascular level, such as GLP1 analogues or SGLT2 inhibitors,” explains specialist HM Modelo. Finally, bariatric and metabolic surgery in some patients can achieve significant weight loss, improvement in type 2 diabetes – with disease remission in up to 80% of cases – and improvement in other cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, apnea syndrome sleep obstructions, hepatic steatosis, etc.

The Mediterranean diet, a safe bet

The Mediterranean diet is a very beneficial option both for preventing and treating diabetes, as well as many other pathologies. As a general rule, as Dr. Rodríguez mentions, it is advisable to try to avoid ultra-processed foods and foods containing trans and saturated fats, sugars, excess salt, as well as commercial juices and sugary drinks (such as juice and soft drinks). It is recommended to consume 5 servings of varied fruits and vegetables per day. The meat (maximum 3-4 times a week) should be lean such as poultry or rabbit, avoiding the consumption of cold meats, sausages and red and fatty meats. It is recommended to eat fish at least 3 times a week (at least 1 to 2 times/week oily fish) and to take 2 daily servings of unsweetened dairy products and unrefined whole grains. Legumes are also recommended (2 to 4 times a week) and potatoes and other tubers, preferably cooked or roasted, avoiding fried potatoes. Likewise, the use of extra virgin olive oil is indicated both for raw dressing and for cooking, as well as eating a handful of nuts (raw, unsalted) 3-7 times a week, as it has been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk. .

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