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August 01, 2019

Could a Plant Based Diet Help You Manage Diabetes Better? 

Could a Plant Based Diet Help You Manage Diabetes Better? 

Could a Plant Based Diet Help You Manage Diabetes Better? 

Veganism is a fast-growing dietary trend, as consumers make the shift to sustainable and ethical food choices and although, there are undeniable health benefits to a plant-based diet, whether this applies to type 2 diabetes has now been investigated by Harvard researchers.

A meta-analysis executed by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public, which explored nine studies examining the association between a plant-based diet and type 2 diabetes, has shown individuals on a plant-based diet have a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Published in Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA internal Medicine), the data review of the nine different studies spanned 307,099 participants and, of which 23,544 had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes was more prominent in those, who strictly followed a vegan or vegetarian diet and therefore leading researchers to conclude the proven health benefits of a plant-based diet, such as recovering insulin sensitivity and preventing inflammation to be responsible for the lowered risk. 

How Plant-Based Diets Can Help 

The President of the Physicians Committee, Neal Barnard,M.D., F.A.C.C, stated: “A plant-based diet is a powerful tool for preventing, managing, and even reversing type 2 diabetes. Not only is this the most delicious ‘prescription’ you can imagine, but it’s also easy to follow. Unlike other diets, there’s no calorie counting, no skimpy portions, and no carb counting. Plus, all the ‘side effects’ are good ones.” 

Get Fibre Fabulous 

Nonetheless, how do plant-based diets effectively regulate blood sugar levels, allow for more control over symptoms of type 2 diabetes and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Well, the answer lies in fibre – in contrast to refined carbohydrates, foods that are high in dietary fibre are less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. 

According to Diabetes.co.uk, the global diabetes community, when soluble fibre comes into contact with water it forms a gel and this slows down digestion and subsequently, preventing the small intestine from absorbing carbohydrates quickly. The beneficial impact of fibre in preventing high blood sugar levels was made transparent in research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers evaluated a moderate fibre diet, consisting of 24 grams of fibre of which 8 grams were soluble fibre and a high fibre diet, which contained 50 grams of dietary fibre and 25 grams of soluble fibre. Over the duration of the six weeks that the diets were assessed, the high fibre diet demonstrated a clear decrease in blood sugar levels prior to consuming a meal, in comparison to a moderate fibre diet – a reduction of blood sugar levels by 0.7 mmol/l. 

Soluble and Insoluble Fibre

The distinguishing difference between soluble and insoluble fibre is that the latter does not dissolve in warm water. Examples of insoluble fibre are whole grain cereals, certain fruit peels and seeds, while examples of soluble fibre are oat bran, soya and linseed.

Despite the absence of conclusive proof that plant-based diets have the potential to reverse type 2 diabetes, the higher fibre content and particularly, soluble fibre can allow for an improved management of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Moreover, even if a plant-based diet is unlikely to be able to reverse type 2 diabetes, it can still lower an individual’s risk of developing the condition and aid with improving their overall wellbeing. 

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