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Can the Mediterranean Diet Help Treat HIV Patients and Diabetics?

M3 India Newsdesk Mar 20, 2017

A study conducted by the Francesco Sofi, a researcher in clinical nutrition revealed an association between the Mediterranean Diet and an improved quality of life by preventing mortality & cognitive decline, reducing the chances of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases.



The Mediterranean Diet (MD) is appreciated for its numerous health benefits. A  study which appeared in the Journal of Urban Health was intended to evaluate whether helping people get medically appropriate, and comprehensive nutrition would improve their health. Upon following the Mediterranean diet, a patient's with diabetes experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms & binge drinking and were also able to manage T2DM better. The HIV patients were observed with increased adherence to antiretroviral therapy (from 47% to 70%).


Per one of quote published in the Indian Express of Dr Kartika Palar, co-author of the study, “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". 



Some of the benefits of the MD Are: 


Treats Dyslipidaemia in HIV Patients


Treatment for HIV via drugs has improved life expectancy. But the risk of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic complications like dyslipidaemia due to the burdens of infection, inflammation and the antiretroviral therapy remain. MD comes to the rescue by reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and mortality in the HIV population with dyslipidaemia. Per the study conducted by Clare Stradling et.al, Dyslipidaemia, the key risk factor for CVD in those with HIV infection could be treated by dietary interventions. The authors reported favourable associations with insulin resistance and HDL-cholesterol in patients who received treatment. 


Reduces the Effects of Lipodystrophy Syndrome in HIV Patients


Researchers from the Department of Dietetics, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong have suggested in a study that HIV and antiretroviral therapies have been linked to the changes in the lipid profiles and fat distribution (lipodystrophy) of the patients. While compared to other diets, the Mediterranean Diet maintains serum triglyceride levels and reduces symptoms of lipodystrophy. 


Helps T2DM Patients to Manage Weight 


T2DM patients are usually recommended a low-carbohydrate, low-fat and calorie-restricted diets for weight loss. When compared with other options, Mediterranean-style diet led to welcome changes such as maintaining blood sugar levels and reduction in coronary heart disease risk factors. It also delayed the need for antihyperglycemic drug therapy in newly diagnosed overweight T2DM patients, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. 


Helps Pregnant Women Manage / Or Prevent T2DM


In women with a history of gestational Diabetes mellitus and individuals with established Cardiovascular disease, the MD has been proved to protect against T2DM, according to a study conducted by Dr Chatzi in ncbi.lm, Also, greater adherence to MD during pregnancy might also help protect against offspring cardiometabolic risks.


Other Beneficial Effects of MD on T2DM Patients: 


  • Better glucose homoeostasis indices in T2DM patients.
  • Reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors.
  • Better glycemic control and insulin sensitivity.
  • Enhanced liver function, greater improvements of hepatic steatosis.


As per all the data, MD is not only a therapeutically appropriate diet which aids recovery but also helps to maintain optimum health and wellness by dealing with specific chronic health conditions in a simple yet efficient manner. 



  1. Current evidence on health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
  2. Randomised controlled pilot study to assess the feasibility of a Mediterranean Portfolio dietary intervention
  3. Ultrasound measurements of carotid intima-media thickness and plaque in HIV-infected patients on the Mediterranean diet
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