Plant-Based Diets can Control Type 2 Diabetes

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According to studies, plant-based diet can improve your psychological state, weaken the influence of some risk factors for the type 2 diabetes development, and in general, reduce likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, which become the main cause of premature death in people with diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation predicts that by 2040, 642 million people will suffer from diabetes. In the UK alone, about 4.5 million individuals have been diagnosed with this disease; in the US, this figure is approximately 30 million.

Almost 15 percent of premature deaths globally happen because of this disease. In 2015, diabetes claimed lives of nearly 5 million people who haven’t reached the age of 60. Observations have shown that there is a direct link between diabetes and the development of depression since the latter can affect how well the blood glucose levels are governed.

The studies have proven that plant-based vegan diet that includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and seeds, or that with a small inclusion of animal products, contributes to lowering risk of type 2 diabetes. However, the scientists could not establish a clear connection between such diets and improvement of well-being and mood.

To trace the link between the reduction of type 2 diabetes risk and plant-based diets, scientists once again analysed the results of clinical studies conducted from 1999 to 2017. In total, they found 11 such studies in which 433 people with an average age of 50 years old took part.

Eight studies have concluded the impact of vegan nutrition. In six studies, participants were given information about rational nutrition to promote understanding of the health benefits of a plant-based diet. The average trial period was 23 weeks.

According to the critical analysis of the researches, it was revealed that the quality of life, both physical and emotional, became better only among the subjects who stuck to a vegan or plant-based diet. By the same token, depressive symptoms improved considerably exclusively in these patients.

Neuropathy, also known as nerve pain, was alleviated in both groups of subjects, those who kept the plant-based and comparator diets. However, more noticeable changes were observed in the former group. The loss of temperature control in the feet of patients sticking to comparator diets showed that eating foods of plant origin can slow down progressive nerve damage provoked by diabetes.

Also, these study participants lost almost twice as much weight as the subjects from the other group: 5.23 kg versus 2.83 kg. A more drastic decrease in blood fat, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases, was observed in those who followed plant-based or vegan diets.

This study is the first to attempt to track the connection between the psychological effects of a plant-based diet in people with type 2 diabetes. It is also noteworthy that this review is based on research from five different countries. Nevertheless, the conclusions reached by the researchers have several reservations. They note the small size of the samples and the dependence of the data on the participants’ recall.

The data from 6 studies show that subjects on a plant-based/ vegan diet reduced the use or even stopped taking medicines for diabetes and related conditions, such as high blood pressure.

The results demonstrate that, despite the fact that it was more difficult to adhere to a plant-based diet, especially at the beginning, the participants of the experiments followed it better than people in the comparator groups.

According to the conclusions reached by the researchers based on a critical analysis of previous studies, plant-based diets, coupled with educational activities, can aid to improve psychological health, quality of life, HbA1c levels, reduce weight and, consequently, help with diabetes treatment.

In addition, vegetarian and plant-based diets have a potential to alleviate diabetic neuropathic pain as well as improve levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides in people who suffer from type 2 diabetes.

Citations
Anastasios Toumpanakis, Triece Turnbull, Isaura Alba-Barba. Effectiveness of plant-based diets in promoting well-being in the management of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review https://drc.bmj.com/content/6/1/e000534

Adnan Munye

A certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Adnan specialises in weight loss, muscle building, body conditioning, core strengthening and injury rehabilitation. Adnan comes from sporting background, where he has played football, badminton, rugby, and swimming all at various levels.

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Last modified: 13th November 2018