plant based diet diabetes study

A plant-based diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, including lowering your risk of heart disease, cancer, and depression, among others. Now, a new study published in JAMA found eating all those veggies can also make a big difference in fighting off diabetes.

The systematic review and meta-analysis—which included more than 300,000 people from nine different studies—looked into the link between plant-based eating styles (including vegan and vegetarian diets) and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Not surprisingly, the researchers found that diets rich in plant foods—and low or absent in animal foods—were linked to significantly lower rates of type 2 diabetes,” explains internal medicine physician Michelle McMacken, MD, in an Instagram post. “The benefits were even greater (30% reduction in risk) for plant-based diets emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, rather than refined grains and added sugars.”

It’s clear filling your plate with plants makes a huge difference in how healthy you are. But how exactly does a plant-based diet lower your risk of diabetes in particular? Thanks to “higher fiber, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats, and reduced inflammation, less heme iron, and saturated fats,” says Dr. McMacken.

“This study adds to what we already know from a wealth of scientific literature,” she continues. “Eating more plants, fewer animal foods, and fewer highly-processed foods is a great recipe for the health of our species, as well as other species and the planet as a whole. What’s not to love?”

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New study out today on my favorite topic, type 2 diabetes!! This study examined the relationship between plant-based dietary patterns & the risk of type 2 diabetes. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that diets rich in plant foods, and low or absent in animal foods, were linked to significantly lower rates of type 2 diabetes. The benefits were even greater (30% reduction in risk) for plant-based diets emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, & nuts, rather than refined grains & added sugars. . Here’s the breakdown: . 🥦This systematic review and meta-analysis included >300,000 people from 9 major prospective studies on plant-based eating patterns (including vegetarian & vegan) and type 2 diabetes. . 🍊All studies adjusted for body mass index, a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes, as well as age. Most studies also adjusted for many other potential confounders eg physical activity, smoking, family history of diabetes, & total daily calorie intake. . 🍓All but 2 of the studies showed that plant-based diets were linked to a statistically significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes; when all 9 study results were combined, the risk reduction was 23%. . 🥑 In the 4 studies that ranked plant-based diets according to healthy vs less-healthy foods (eg refined grains & added sugars), the combined risk reduction for healthy plant-based diets was 30%. . 🥬The dose-response curves showed that the more plant-based the diet, the lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, in a linear fashion. . The authors note that plant-based diets may lower risk of type 2 diabetes by multiple mechanisms: higher fiber, antioxidants, & unsaturated fats, and reduced inflammation, less heme iron, saturated fats, & TMAO, and lower risk of weight gain (though these studies showed a lower risk of type 2 diabetes with plant-based diets despite adjustment for body mass index). . This study adds to what we already know from a wealth of scientific literature: eating more plants, fewer animal foods, & fewer highly processed foods is a great recipe for the health of our species as well as other species and the planet as a whole. What’s not to love? 🤓 . Qian et al, JAMA Internal Medicine 2019

A post shared by Dr. Michelle McMacken (@veg_md) on

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