New research reveals how avoiding processed foods as well as limiting overall caloric intake may lead to improved outcomes for individuals diagnosed with diabetes. The study, published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in March 2022, maps out the impact of food consumption on survival among diabetes patients throughout the day, including the forenoon (morning), afternoon, and evening. This data was used to analyze the survival relationship between food intakes time and mortality.

It has been previously established that losing weight and limiting caloric intake can improve health and wellbeing and, in some cases, even could reverse the early course of type 2 diabetes. Obesity and metabolic complications have been recognized offenders in the emergence and exacerbation of cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy. Coauthor Qingrao Song, MD, of Harbin Medical University in Harbin, China, and colleagues, investigated whether the timing and quantity of food consumed over the period of a day impacted long-term survival of patients diagnosed with diabetes.

The researchers included 4,642 people in their study cohort who were diagnosed with diabetes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine their risk of heart disease associated mortality. They reported that people with diabetes who ate potatoes or starchy vegetables in the morning (hazard ratio [HR]potato 0.46, 95% CI 0.24-0.89; HRstarchy-vegetable 0.32, 95% CI 0.15-0.72), whole grains in the afternoon (HRwhole grain 0.67, 95% CI 0.48-0.95), and dark vegetables (such as greens and broccoli) and milk in the evening (HRdark vegetable 0.55, 95% CI 0.35-0.87; HRmilk 0.56, 95% CI 0.36-0.88) were less likely to die from heart disease. Those who ate a lot of processed meat in the evening were more likely to die from heart disease (HRprocessed meat 1.74, 95% CI 1.07-2.82).

"We observed that eating potatoes in the morning, whole grains in the afternoon, greens and milk in the evening and less processed meat in the evening was associated with better long-term survival in people with diabetes," stated Dr. Song. "Nutritional guidelines and intervention strategies for diabetes should integrate the optimal consumption times for foods in the future."

The authors concluded that higher intake of potato or starchy vegetable in forenoon, whole grain in the afternoon, and dark vegetables and milk in the evening and lower intake of processed meat in the evening were associated with better long-term survival in people with diabetes. Instead, they recommended switching 0.1 serving potato or starchy vegetable consumed in the afternoon or evening to earlier in the day, 0.1 serving of dark vegetables consumed in the afternoon to the evening, and 0.1 serving whole grain consumed in the earlier day to the afternoon to reduce the risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease.

Other authors of this study included Wenbo Jiang, Jia Zhang, Yunyan Chen, Hongyan Jiang, Yujia Long, Ying Li, Tianshu Han, Hongru Sun, and Wei of Harbin Medical University. The study received funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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