Plant-Based Diet for Diabetes: What the Research Shows

Plant-based diets have been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Not only are they great for the environment, but they may also be beneficial for our health. In particular, research has shown that plant-based diets can be helpful for people with diabetes. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the research on plant-based diets and diabetes to help you determine whether this type of diet may be right for you.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

Before we dive into the research on plant-based diets and diabetes, let’s first define what we mean by a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is one that emphasizes plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, while minimizing or eliminating animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs. There are many different types of plant-based diets, from vegan and vegetarian to flexitarian and Mediterranean-style diets.

Image depicting the benefits of plant based diets for diabetes including stabilized blood sugar and improved heart health.

Plant-Based Diet for Diabetes

Here are some key takeaways from the research on plant-based diets and diabetes:

  1. Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Several studies have found that people who follow plant-based diets have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who consume more animal products. For example, one study found that a healthy plant-based diet was associated with a 23% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. (1-3)
  2. Improved Blood Sugar Control: Plant-based diets have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. This is likely due to the high fiber content of plant-based diets, which can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. A recent found that a low-fat vegan diet improved blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. (4)
  3. Weight Loss: Plant-based diets may be effective for weight loss, which can help improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. A study found that a plant-based diet resulted in greater weight loss compared to a conventional diabetes diet. (5)
  4. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Plant-based diets have been associated with improvements in cardiovascular health, which is important for people with diabetes who are at increased risk of heart disease. One study found that a plant-based diet improved several cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes. (6-8)
  5. Improved Gut Health: Many Americans struggle to consume enough fiber. Plant-base diets are naturally higher in fiber which helps feed the good bacteria in the gut.

The research suggests that plant-based diets may be beneficial for people with diabetes. These diets may help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, improve blood sugar control, aid in weight loss, and improve cardiovascular health. However, working individually with a dietitian can help you practically implement a plant-based diet! Schedule a call today to learn more!

References for Further Reading (Research Articles)

  1. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes
  2. Perspective: Plant-Based Eating Pattern for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment: Efficacy, Mechanisms, and Practical Considerations 
  3. Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
  4. The Impact of a Plant-Based Diet on Gestational Diabetes: A Review
  5. Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Weight Status: A Systematic Review
  6. Plant‐Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All‐Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle‐Aged Adults
  7. The Role of Specific Components of a Plant-Based Diet in Management of Dyslipidemia and the Impact on Cardiovascular Risk
  8. Plant-Based Diets for Personal, Population, and Planetary Health 

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