Mediterranean diet may help treat HIV, diabetes patients

Consuming a Mediterranean diet — rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, high on healthy fats like olive oil and low in refined sugars and saturated fats — may provide a good nutritious balance that can improve medication adherence and mental health in patients with HIV-positive and Type 2 diabetes, researchers suggest.

People who received healthy food and snacks for six months showed dramatic improvements in depression, the distress of having diabetes, diabetes self-management, trading off between food and healthcare and HIV medication adherence.
People with diabetes who ate the nutritious food showed better long-term control of their blood sugar, reduced hospitalisations or emergency department visits. They also consumed less sugar and lost weight.

“We saw significant improvements in food security and in outcomes related to all three mechanisms through which we posited that food insecurity may affect HIV and diabetes health — nutritional, mental health and behavioural,” said Kartika Palar, Assistant Professor at University of California – San Francisco (UCSF), US.

The Mediterranean diet fulfilled 100 per cent of daily caloric requirements for people living with HIV and Type 2 diabetes.

The patients also 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 per cent.

The study appeared online in the Journal of Urban Health.