Posted on Apr 29, 2020, 4 p.m.
According to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that a plant based diet can help to significantly lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 23%.
There are over 100 million American adults living with diabetes or prediabetes according to the CDC, given these numbers metabolic disease continues to be a growing public health issue. One of the main risk factors for Type 2 diabetes is diet; some studies show that regular consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, women in particular in one study who drank 2+ sodas/day had a 24% increased risk compared to those who drank less than one per month.
Several studies show that consuming less fruits and vegetables significantly increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, one of those studies found that adults with high levels of vitamin C from regular consumption of fruits and vegetables have a 62% lower risk of diabetes than those with lower levels.
The take away from these studies on diet and diabetes suggests that diet is a modifiable risk factor for diabetes, this means that altering your diet to cut back on certain foods and consuming more of other healthy foods can help to greatly decrease the risk of developing a metabolic condition.
In recent years studies have revealed evidence to suggest that a vegetarian or plant based diet can help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. According to Frank Qian who is the first author of the study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Plant-based dietary patterns are gaining popularity in recent years, so we thought it was crucial to quantify their overall association with diabetes risk, particularly since these diets can vary substantially in terms of their food composition.”
This study investigated the link between plant based dietary patterns and Type 2 diabetes by conducting a comprehensive review and meta analysis of 9 studies investigating the associations between diet and Type 2 diabetes risk. The studies involved 307,099 participants of which 23,544 had Type 2 diabetes. Participants that followed a plant based diet had a 23% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, the risk was even lower for those who strictly adhered to a healthy plant based diet.
Plant based diets included healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and limited amounts of animal proteins and carbohydrates. These types of plant based foods may have helped the participants to prevent weight gain, or possibly lead to weight loss which can help to minimize metabolic abnormalities linked to Type 2 diabetes including obesity, insulin resistance, and hypertension. Fruits and vegetables are also great sources of antioxidants that can help to decrease low grade inflammation that is typically associated with Type 2 diabetes.
For those interested in being more plant based in their dietary choices it really is easy. Simply making small changes like eating more vegetables or reaching for some fruit for dessert are great steps to get started. Another step might be to replace some animal protein with some plant based sources like beans and legumes to minimize some of the health risks associated with excessive meat consumption.
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