Following a plant-based or vegan diet can reduce risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, research indicates

Plant-based and vegan diets are becoming more and more popular due to their many health benefits. A study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care found that these types of diets are especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. The review also suggests that diabetics who switch to plant-based or vegan diets can enjoy improvements in their physical and psychological well being.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world. This is very alarming since patients who are not able to manage this condition can suffer from a wide range of complications. This includes heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, sleep apnea, and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to these, Type 2 diabetes can take a toll on a patient’s psychological health, increasing their risk of depression by up to three times.  This can have a significant effect on how they manage and control their disease, especially since depression has been associated with poor blood sugar control.

Diet is an important factor in both the development and the treatment of diabetes. Previous studies have shown that high meat consumption, especially of red and processed meat, is associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes. This suggests that plant-based diets that are free of most or all animal products may be best for diabetics and those who are at risk of the disease. To determine if this was the case, the researchers, who came from various research institutions in the U.K., conducted a systematic review of 11 articles with a total of 433 participants. On average, the trials that were included in the study lasted for 23 weeks.

From the studies, the researchers observed that plant-based or vegan diets led to significant improvements in physical quality of life and emotional well being, as indicated by improvements in depressive symptoms. They also noted that following these diets improved blood sugar levels and reduced nerve pain, which is a common complication caused by diabetes. Furthermore, following a plant-based diet helped the participants lose weight, having an average loss of 5.23 kg compared to the 2.83kg of those who still ate animal products. This is important for diabetes prevention since being overweight or obese is a major contributor to the development of this disease.

Overall, these results indicate that becoming a vegetarian or vegan can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications by helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels. (Related: Diabetes sufferer switched to vegan diet, blood sugar stabilized after 10 days.)

More reasons to switch to a plant-based or vegan diet

Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that are great for your health. By increasing your intake of these foods, you can enjoy many health benefits, including:

  • Lower blood pressure — Unlike meat, plant-based foods are rich in potassium, a mineral that can help lower blood pressure. Some of the best sources of this mineral include bananas, spinach, broccoli, oranges, and potatoes.
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease — A study from Harvard University showed that people who eat at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day can reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 30 percent compared to those who had less than 1.5 servings.
  • Improved digestion –Plant-based foods contain large amounts of fiber that can help improve digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Better skin — Animal products are rich in saturated fats that can clog your pores. By following a plant-based diet, you are able to skip out on these fats and even increase your intake of nutrients and phytochemicals that help improve skin. These include lycopene, which protects the skin from sun damage, and vitamin C that prevents wrinkles by stimulating collagen production.

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