Plant-Based Diet: A Tools in Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Key Takeaways:

  • A healthy plant-based diet can potentially prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Recommended foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, tea or coffee, vegetable oils, and legumes.
  • A study used data from over 10,600 middle-aged, overweight participants, and discovered that those who developed Type 2 diabetes consumed fewer healthy plant-based foods.
  • The study also found that along with a low intake of healthy plant-based food, individuals with Type 2 diabetes were less active and had higher average body mass index, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
  • Consumption of polyphenol-rich plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, and legumes, correlates with a reduced diabetes risk, however further research is needed to understand their exact role.
  • Rates of Type 2 diabetes have tripled globally since 2000, with serious complications including cardiac diseases and damage to kidneys, eyes, and nervous system.

New findings suggest that adopting a wholesome plant-based diet could be instrumental in averting the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Plant-based foods recommended for a healthy regimen encompass fruits, vegetables, nuts, – aka beverages from coffee or tea, vegetable oils, and legumes. On the contrary, unhealthy plant-based foods comprise processed grains, fruit juices, potatoes, sugar-infused beverages, sweets, and desserts.

The Role of a Plant-Based Diet in Diabetes Prevention

“Our research highlights the positive impact of a healthy plant-based diet in preventing diabetes and opens up avenues for future exploration,” claimed the research team in an article published in the scholarly publication, Diabetologia.

The focus of the study was mining through data procured from more than 10,600 applicants from three extensive U.S. surveys. The majority of the participants were middle-aged Caucasians with an average age of 54. Their mean body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat derived from an individual’s height and weight, hovered around 25.6, thereby categorizing them as overweight.

Plant-Based Diets and Diabetes: The Connection

Strikingly, those participants who developed type 2 diabetes were found to have consumed fewer healthy plant-based foods per the findings of the study.

In addition to a low intake of healthy plant-based foods, type 2 diabetes patients had a higher average BMI, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. They were also noted to be less active, with a higher likelihood of taking medication for blood pressure and cholesterol and a family history of diabetes.

As a part of the survey, participants reported their eating habits in questionnaires and submitted blood samples, which were subsequently examined for metabolites related to their diets. Metabolites are by-products produced when the body processes food, drugs, chemicals, or tissue to generate energy.

“While it’s tough to differentiate the effects of individual food items since they are consumed as a collective pattern, individual metabolites emanating from the intake of polyphenol-rich plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, coffee, and legumes, have a clear association with a healthy plant-based diet and reduced diabetes risk,” stated Frank Hu, a lead researcher of the study and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.

The team emphasized that whilst their discoveries concerning intermediate metabolites are quite captivating at the moment, they necessitate further investigation for illustrating their concrete role in how plant-based diets impact the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes.

The Increasing Occurrences of Type 2 Diabetes

It is alarming to note that adult cases of type 2 diabetes have trebled globally in less than two decades, surging from 150 million in 2000 to over 450 million in 2019. By 2045, the count is projected to reach a staggering 700 million, as indicated in a journal press release by the study authors.

Type 2 diabetes can precipitate complications such as cardiac diseases and inflict harm upon the kidneys, eyes, and nervous system.

More Information

If you wish to know more about diabetes prevention, you can visit theU.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Source: Diabetologia, press release, April, 2022.

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