New medical food diet may help people with type 2 diabetes reverse symptoms of metabolic syndrome

Some individuals with type 2 diabetes are told that they may be able to reduce their need for diabetes medications or reverse the condition entirely if they adhere to a strict diet and exercise regimen.

Now, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology has indicated that a new program called UltraMeal PLUS 360 may be more effective in reducing an individual's metabolic risk factors than some other frequently recommended diets. The plan entails a combination of medical food, which are items specifically formulated for dietary management of a disease, and a low-glycemic, Mediterranean-style diet.

People are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if they have a cluster of four conditions that are associated with an increased risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

"Chronic illness is draining our healthcare resources and keeping millions of people from enjoying healthy, vibrant lives. Many of these illnesses are the result of long-term lifestyle and behavior choices,” said lead researcher Robert H. Lerman, MD, PhD.

Factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome include excess abdominal fat, as well as high blood pressure, triglyceride and blood sugar levels.

The research involved nearly 90 women between the ages of 20 and 75, some of whom had type 2 diabetes. The study's results showed that the medical food program, in addition to regular physical activity, was 40 percent more likely to reverse metabolic syndrome than a traditional diabetic diet. Moreover, this plan was found to be almost twice as effective in lowering risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Healthcare providers may use the term medical nutrition therapy when referring to a diabetic diet. This means that instead of simply restricting calories, an individual focuses on eating nutritious foods in moderate amounts and sticking to regular mealtimes, the Mayo Clinic explains. While this type of plan is strongly recommended for people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, the organization notes that it may also be a beneficial diet for all individuals.