The study was part of the MEditerranean DIet and Type 2 diAbetes (MEDITA) trial run by the Second University of Naples, Italy. The Mediterranean diet was mainly plant based, low in carbohydrate and rich in largely vegetable sources of fat.
215 participants with type 2 diabetes were randomised to either a low-fat diet or the Mediterranean diet. The study had an 8.1-year follow-up period.
The study results showed that participants had a 56 per cent lower risk of developing either erectile dysfunction or female sexual dysfunction. Additionally, worsening of existing sexual dysfunction was improved in both men and women. The risk of worsening of erectile dysfunction was reduced by 59 per cent and the risk of worsening of female sexual dysfunction was reduced by 50 per cent.
The researchers stated that, “The current study is the first long-term dietary trial demonstrating that the Mediterranean diet conferred benefit on both prevention (56% relative risk reduction) and deterioration of sexual dysfunction in both men and women with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.”
An earlier analysis of the MEDITA trial, published in 2014, showed that in addition to the results presented in this study, participants on the Mediterranean diet were able to achieve significantly higher rates of long-term diabetes remission than the participants following the low-fat diet. Diabetes remission is when blood glucose levels are sufficiently well-controlled that diabetes medication is not needed.
The study is published online by the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Care journal.