Type 2 diabetes mellitus is one of the fastest growing diseases; the number of people affected by diabetes will soon reach 552 million worldwide, with associated increases in complications and healthcare expenditure. Lifestyle and medical nutrition therapy are considered the keystones of type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment, but there is no definite consensus on how to treat this disease with these therapies.
The American Diabetes Association has made several recommendations regarding the medical nutrition therapy of diabetes; these emphasize the importance of minimizing macrovascular and microvascular complications in people with diabetes. Four types of diets were reviewed for their effects on diabetes: the Mediterranean diet, a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet, a vegan diet and a vegetarian diet.
Each of the four types of diet has been shown to improve metabolic conditions, but the degree of improvement varies from patient to patient. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate a patient's pathophysiological characteristics in order to determine the diet that will achieve metabolic improvement in each individual.
Many dietary regimens are available for patients with type 2 diabetes to choose from, according to personal taste and cultural tradition. It is important to provide a tailor-made diet wherever possible in order to maximize the efficacy of the diet on reducing diabetes symptoms and to encourage patient adherence. Additional randomized studies, both short term (to analyse physiological responses) and long term, could help reduce the multitude of diets currently recommended and focus on a shorter list of useful regimens. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.