- Measuring the function of beta cells, which store and release insulin, can help assess future type 2 diabetes risk.
- The plant-based diet group experienced a decrease in blood sugar levels both before and after meals.
- Vegan food really is the best medicine as eating a healthful plant-based diet can go a long way in preventing diabetes.
Vegan diet specifically plant based diet can improve beta-cell function (insulin secretion) and insulin sensitivity in patients who are overweight, and those who do not have diabetes finds a new study. The findings of this study are published in the Journal of Nutrients
Measuring the function of beta cells, which store and release insulin, can help assess future type 2 diabetes risk.
‘Plant-based diets may not only prevent type 2 diabetes but can also improve cholesterol levels, weight loss and lower blood pressure in patients who are overweight.’
The study randomly assigned participants--who were overweight and had no history of diabetes--to an intervention or control group in a 1:1 ratio. For 16 weeks, participants in the intervention group followed a low-fat vegan diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes with no calorie limit. The control group made no diet changes. Neither group changed exercise or medication routines.
Based on mathematical modeling, the researchers determined that those on a plant-based diet increased meal-stimulated insulin secretion and beta-cell glucose sensitivity, compared to those in the control group. The plant-based diet group also experienced a decrease in blood sugar levels both while fasting and during meal tests.
"The study has important implications for diabetes prevention," says lead study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D. "Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 30 million Americans, with 84 million more suffering from prediabetes."
Physicians Committee researchers posit that because the intervention group experienced weight loss, including loss of body fat, their fasting insulin resistance decreased (i.e. improved), and their beta-cell function improved as a result.
"If nothing changes, our next generation--the first expected to live shorter lives than their parents--is in trouble. A third of young Americans are projected to develop diabetes in their lifetimes," says Dr. Kahleova. "Fortunately, this study adds to the growing evidence that food really is medicine and that eating a healthful plant-based diet can go a long way in preventing diabetes."
Previous studies have shown that plant-based diets not only have the power to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes, but that they also lead to weight loss, improved cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and less heart disease.
- Hana Kahleova, OrcID, Andrea Tura, Martin Hill, Richard Holubkov, Neal D. Barnard. A Plant-Based Dietary Intervention Improves Beta-Cell Function and Insulin Resistance in Overweight Adults: A 16-Week Randomized Clinical Trial , Nutrients (2018).DOI:10.3390/nu10020189