Vegan diet can help combat type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on February 15, 2018

Eating a plant-based diet can boost insulin sensitivity, regarded as the main driving factor of type 2 diabetes, according to new research carried out in the United States.

The researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC, also found that being vegan can improve beta-cell function which stores and releases insulin.


The findings have important implications for preventing type diabetes developing and also for manging the condition for those who develop it, according to lead study author Dr Hana Kahleova.

‘This study adds to the growing evidence that food really is medicine and that eating a healthful plant based diet can go a long way in preventing diabetes,’ she said.

Researchers looked at 75 participants who were overweight but had no history of diabetes. They were divided into two groups and half followed a low fat vegan diet for 16 weeks, based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The others made no dietary changes and neither group changed their exercise routines.

Using mathematical models, the researchers calculated that those on a vegan diet had an increase in insulin secretion after eating meals. They also had a better beta-cell glucose sensitivity compared to those in the control group.

Those following the vegan diet also recorded a decrease in blood sugar levels while fasting and during meal tests. Such levels often spike in patients at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that those on the vegan diet experienced weight loss, including loss of body fat, this could be the reason behind the improvement in their fasting insulin resistance and their beta-cell function.

‘If nothing changes, our next generation, the first expected to live shorter lives than their parents, is in trouble. A third of young Americans are projected to develop diabetes in their lifetimes,’ said Kahleova.

Previous studies have shown that plant based diets can help to prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes and they also lead to weight loss, improved cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and less heart disease.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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