WASHINGTON: Mediterranean diet loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats for six months may benefit people with HIV and Type 2 diabetes.
According to researchers, through healthy food and snacks HIV-positive people were more likely to adhere to their medication regimens, and people with type 2 diabetes, were less depressed and less likely to make trade-offs between food and healthcare.
The study, which appeared online in the Journal of Urban Health, was designed to evaluate whether helping people get medically appropriate, comprehensive nutrition would improve their health.
“We saw significant improvements in food security and in outcomes related to all three mechanisms through which we posited food insecurity may affect HIV and diabetes health–nutritional, mental health, and behavioral,” said Kartika Palar from University Of California – San Francisco.
“We saw dramatic improvements in depression, the distress of having diabetes, diabetes self-management, trading-off between food and healthcare and HIV medication adherence,” Palar added.
They included 52 participants in the study.
They found number of people with diabetes who achieved optimal blood sugar control increased, and decreases in hospitalizations or emergency department visits, but these changes did not reach statistical significance. Participants with diabetes also consumed less sugar and lost weight.
The researchers followed the participants for six months and found they consumed fewer fats, while increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Overall, those in the study had fewer symptoms of depression and were less likely to binge drink. For those with HIV, adherence to antiretroviral therapy increased from 47 to 70 percent.
The meals and snacks, which participants picked up twice a week, were based on the Mediterranean diet and featured fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats like olive oil, and whole grains.
“This study highlights the vital role that community-based food support organisations can play in supporting health and well-being of chronically ill populations who struggle to afford basic needs,” said senior study author Sheri Weiser.