Few chronic diseases are more studied than type 2 diabetes.
It is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide, with an estimated 462 million people affected in 2017 Global burden of disease It is expected to grow by 17% from current figures by 2030.
From a public health perspective, these numbers are concerning; Clinicians, researchers, governments, the private sector, and public health professionals express an urgent need to identify effective strategies for disease prevention and management.
Diet has long been considered an effective strategy for preventing and managing diabetes. However, chronic disease professionals have engaged in an ongoing debate about the most effective and realistic diets for people to adopt as a strategy.
A plant-based diet may be a potential dietary prescription for people at risk of developing or having type 2 diabetes. Research is piling up studying its effectiveness, and you may wonder what the latest research says and whether it might be a realistic option for your clients.
In this article, we review the latest research and guidance on plant-based diets to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.
Research findings on vegetarian diets for type 2 diabetes
Plant-based diets may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, but sources of macronutrients are important to consider.
Vegetarian diets emphasize consuming legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds more than foods from animal sources. Researchers McMain and Shah Review the clinical evidence behind the relationship between plant-based diets and diabetes prevention and the use of plant-based diets as part of a diabetes treatment strategy. After looking at the detailed evidence from dozens of studies, the positive impact of plant-based diets on diabetes prevention and treatment strategies is undeniable.
Researchers emphasize that plant-based diets generally increase protective foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, but also exclude animal foods that tend to promote insulin resistance.
However, researchers point out that the macronutrient composition of plant-based diets is an important factor to consider. When individuals equate a lack of ingredients from animal sources in their food with health without regard for nutrient composition, they may ignore the effects of macronutrient sources on their health.
In other words, don’t necessarily rule out plant-based diets Ultra-processed foodsand saturated fats and refined carbohydrates from the diet. Regardless of the source, diets rich in these types of foods may increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes.
At the population level, plant-based diets are associated with a 16 to 34% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other improved health outcomes.
a group of researchers In the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, he took data from three cohort studies and examined dietary data to create a vegetarian index to determine the relationship between consumption of plant foods and health outcomes for type 2 diabetes. In all, the researchers analyzed data from more than 200,000 health professionals. of males and females across the United States for over 20 years.
The researchers found that a diet that focused on plant foods and was low in animal foods was associated with a 20% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In people who followed diets that focused on consuming healthy plant foods, there was a 34% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those who ate non-vegetarian diets.
People who followed a diet high in unhealthy plant foods still had a 16% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who ate non-vegetarian diets.
The authors of this paper also highlight that plant-based diets may contain unhealthy plant foods, artificial foods, and additives. They remind public health professionals to continue working to create healthy food environments and to customize recommendations.
Extensive literature reviews support the use of plant-based diets as a form of medical nutritional therapy for the management of type 2 diabetes.
The Canadian Diabetes Association has included plant-based diets within the recommended dietary patterns as a medical dietary treatment for people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University College Brescia at Western University in Ontario, Canada, conducted a Comprehensive review of the literature To provide the background and rationale to support the use of plant-based diets as a treatment for people with type 2 diabetes.
A review of the literature identified that plant-based diets:
- Associated with a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes
- Be equal, if not more effective than other diabetes diets in improving body weight, cardiovascular risk factors, insulin sensitivity, glycated hemoglobin levels, markers of oxidative stress, and vascular markets
- It was acceptable compared to other diabetes diets
- Reducing the need for diabetes medication
Researchers have identified some potential obstacles to the adoption of plant-based diets at community levels. They recommended that health-care centers and professionals develop educational materials and programs focused on plant-based diets and individual counseling sessions that help address barriers to change.
Plant-based diets with support may improve diabetes self-management in medically deprived communities.
Medically disadvantaged communities They are at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving support for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Managing type 2 diabetes often requires frequent visits to the offices of a dietician and physicians, which are inaccessible and uncomfortable in some communities; BIPOC, rural and low-income communities are most at risk of living in medically underserved areas.
Researchers from Loma Linda University examined whether plant-based diets combined with a 5-week educational support program would improve A1c for Latinos living in a medically underserved community.
The researchers found that six months after starting the intervention, those who received educational support about the plant-based diet had significantly lower A1c levels than those who continued their usual diet.
Plant-based diets may reduce the need for diabetes medications.
Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition examined whether eating a plant-based diet reduces the need for diabetes medications. He reviewed several clinical studies involving people with type 2 diabetes who discontinued or decreased their medication after following a plant-based diet.
While the researcher noted that there is a lack of studies examining the effect of plant-based diets on the need for medications, the available evidence suggests that vegetarian diets may reduce the need for diabetes medications. He points out that while the recommendation should be examined on a case-by-case basis, information may be a motivating or deciding factor for people with type 2 diabetes to adopt and maintain a plant-based diet.
Key Takeaway: Weigh the Evidence and Take Action
Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition that may develop as a result of genetic, autoimmune, lifestyle and trauma-related factors. Diabetes management plans often include a nutritional component, in which suggested dietary patterns prioritize consumption of foods with low to moderate effects on blood glucose and reduce or eliminate consumption of foods that raise blood glucose.
A vegetarian diet is one of the Recommended Diets For people with type 2 diabetes. Whether you are someone who is at risk for or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or you are a health coach looking to provide support for your client with type 2 diabetes, a plant-based diet can be an effective option. However, if an individual has not previously followed a vegan diet, it is important to consider the financial, social, cultural and psychological impact of adopting a vegan diet as a long-term strategy for preventing or managing diabetes.
If you or your client decides that a vegan diet is unrealistic or too painful to change, you can consider taking small but important steps to increase consumption of foods that help manage blood glucose and reduce consumption of foods that cause it to go up.
Additionally, remember that diet is only one component of a diabetes management plan. Small steps in the right direction In terms of eating habits and physical activity, as well as measuring glucose and taking any medications as directed, we work together to support people with diabetes to live healthy and fulfilling lives.