A new study suggests that people with diabetes should avoid using whole foods like rice, lentils, and beans, as well as supplements containing beta-carotene and vitamin A, because they may be associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
A new analysis of nearly 7,000 people from the Nurses’ Health Study, published online Feb. 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that those who consumed these foods and supplements had an average of nearly 5.5 times the risk of diabetes than people who did not consume these foods or supplements.
Among those who drank tea, orange juice, or milk, those who were not diabetic had a 30 percent higher risk than those who are.
Researchers said the risk was even higher among those with diabetes who were already obese or overweight.
The study also found that consuming a high-fiber diet was associated with less diabetes, but not necessarily higher.
People who ate the most vegetables, fruits, and nuts had a 50 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with diabetes.
People with Type 2 or more diabetes were more likely to consume foods that were low in vitamin A and vitamin C, which are important for the development of insulin resistance.
They also tended to consume diets high in sodium and saturated fats.
The authors concluded that “there is compelling evidence to recommend that whole foods with a lower glycemic index (i.e., foods with fewer carbohydrates) and lower levels of added sugars and trans fats should be avoided in patients with type 2 diabetes.”
They added, “Given the large and growing body of evidence linking these dietary patterns with decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, the recommendation for the avoidance of whole foods in patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may be justified.”
In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. James C. Brownell, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lead author of the study who was not involved in the study at all, said: “We believe the findings of this study, together with others that indicate that high glycemic indexes and trans fat intake may increase the risk for developing Type 1 Diabetes, support a recommendation to consume a low glycemic diet in patients who are predisposed to diabetes.”
In fact, a 2012 study published in the journal Circulation found that people who ate a high glycemia index diet for three months had a 2.3 times greater risk of having Type 1 diabetes than those on a lower-glycemia diet.
The new analysis, Brownell and his colleagues wrote, “also suggests that avoiding high-glycemic index foods in diabetes patients could increase their risk for Type 2 and other cardiovascular diseases.”
In addition to providing health advice for diabetes, the authors noted that this study may be important for those considering a medical career.
“It’s possible that diabetes-related morbidity and mortality may be influenced by how much the diet affects the health of people with a chronic disease,” the authors wrote.