The growing type-2 diabetes “epidemic” could be avoided if people commit to eating more fruit in their diet — provided they cut back on fruit juices.
The seemingly contradictory claim has been made in new worldwide research on the impact a person’s diet has on the condition.
According to the British Medical Journal study — based on in-depth findings from the US, Britain, and Asia between 1986 and 2009 — people who either have a lifestyle or genetic risk of type 2 diabetes should ensure they include more fruit in their diet.
Blueberries, grapes, and apples, in particular, have been identified as key to improving defences as they are high in anti-oxidants.
However, the same research said people should not reduce the amount of fruit juices they drink as it can have an “adverse effect” on battling the condition.
The findings are based on the experiences of 187,382 otherwise healthy participants across three continents, broken down as 151,209 women and 36,173 men. Some 12,198 people who took part — or 6.5% — went on to develop diabetes.
The study said the likelihood of how often each individual would eat or drink the items involved — from “never, or less than once per month” to “six or more times per day” — played a key factor in this development.
It said three servings per week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples, or pears “significantly reduced” the risk of type-2 diabetes and “correlated positively” with age, physical activity and multi-vitamin use.
However, “greater consumption” of fruit juice was “associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk”.
“The researchers conclude there is a significant difference in the associations between individual fruits and the risk of type 2 diabetes, and that greater consumption of specific whole fruits was associated with a higher risk. The results support recommendations to increase the consumption of a variety of whole fruits as a measure for diabetes prevention,” it concluded.
According to the Diabetes Federation of Ireland, a total of 190,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in Ireland — 170,000 of whom have type-2 diabetes.
A further 20,000 people are believed to be living with diabetes without knowing.
The World Health Organisation previously warned that Ireland is facing an “epidemic” of diabetes diagnoses due to poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.
lThe study can be found at bmj.com. Further information is available from the Diabetes Federation of Ireland at diabetes.ie or 1850 909 909.
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