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Proper nutrition may improve outcomes for HIV, type 2 diabetes: Study

Research shows good nutrition tends to lessen depression and improves medication regimen adherence in HIV and diabetes patients.

By
Amy Wallace
The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain and calls for high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Researchers at UCSF collaborated on a study with Project Open Hand to examine the effects of nutritious diets on people with HIV and type 2 diabetes. Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock
The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain and calls for high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Researchers at UCSF collaborated on a study with Project Open Hand to examine the effects of nutritious diets on people with HIV and type 2 diabetes. Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A new study from the University of California at San Francisco shows a healthy diet can benefit people with HIV and type 2 diabetes.

UCSF in collaboration with Project Open Hand, a non-profit that provides nutritious meals to low-income people with HIV and now elderly people with type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, to study the impacts of nutrition on health.

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The study examined the role medically appropriate, comprehensive nutrition played in overall health.

Researchers followed 52 participants for six months and found that in people with type 2 diabetes, nutritious diets helped them have optimal blood sugar control and decreased hospitalizations and emergency department visits. The study was too small to conclusively determine if the diets resulted in improved long-term diabetes control.

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The study showed nutritious diets lessened symptoms of depression and incidences of binge drinking overall. For participants with HIV, the study found significantly more adherence to antiretroviral therapy, which increased from 47 percent to 70 percent.

"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," Dr. Kartika Palar, assistant professor of medicine at UCSF and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "For example, we saw dramatic improvements in depression, the distress of having diabetes, diabetes self-management, trading-off between food and healthcare, and HIV medication adherence."

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The meals and snacks provided by Project Open Hand were based on the Mediterranean diet and included fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. They followed the dietary recommendations of the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.

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The meals were 100 percent of the daily caloric requirements, with 1,800 to 2,000 calories for people with HIV and 1,800 calories for people with diabetes.

"This study highlights the vital role that community-based food support organizations can play in supporting health and well-being of chronically ill populations who struggle to afford basic needs," Dr. Sheri Weiser, associate professor of medicine at UCSF and senior author of the study, said in a press release.

The study was published in the Journal of Urban Health.

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