We used to think there were only two types of diabetes—the type you’re born with (Type 1) and the type brought about by a combination of negative lifestyle factors (Type 2). A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology summarizes that the term “Type 3 diabetes” represents a form of diabetes that selectively involves the brain and has molecular and biochemical features that overlap with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It appears that people with Type 2 diabetes are upwards of 50% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with normal glucose levels.
The good news in all of this is that you can make healthy lifestyle choices that can ward off Type 3 diabetes. Proper food intake is a behavioral modification that should be followed to lower your chances of getting the disease. Although different experts have different prescriptions on what to eat, it appears that the Mediterranean diet is the most effective in lowering your risk.
The Mediterranean Diet is not a new “meal plan.” In fact, it’s been studied extensively for over half a century. Although the diet doesn’t eliminate red meat altogether, it’s a plant-dominant style of eating. Eating primarily plant-based foods (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes) has been shown to lower our risk of heart disease … and more recently, Alzheimer’s. Oldways (a nonproﬁt food and nutrition education organization), the Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO collectively created the “Mediterranean Diet Pyramid” to help simplify this healthy way of eating.
You’ll find an emphasis on physical activity and social interaction at the base of the pyramid. Moving up the pyramid, you’ll notice the core foods that you should aim to consume most often: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and healthy fats such as olive oil. Fish and seafood are typically eaten at least twice a week, and dairy foods are eaten in moderate portions. Red meat and sweets are rarely eaten. Water and wine are typical beverages (1 glass of wine for women and two glasses of wine for men – for those who drink). Even for those that have a low risk for any type of diabetes, following the Mediterranean Diet can enhance your overall health, physically and mentally – cheers!
Courtney Moskal, MS, RD, CDN
For more information and a printable copy of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, click here.