plant based diets lower risk of diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has become epidemic with cases more than tripling in the last twenty years. The surge in numbers is being driven largely by lifestyle factors like unhealthy diets. Plant based diets are known to reduce the risk. This new study dove more deeply into that promise.

The study was conducted at Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and followed 10,684 people. Their diets were scored on an overall plant-based diet index as well as on indices of healthy and unhealthy foods. Healthy foods included things like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, coffee and tea. Unhealthy foods included things like, refined grains and sweets. It also scored animal foods like animal fats, dairy, eggs, fish, seafood and meat.

They found that the ones who ate more healthy plant-based foods and who had higher scores on the plant-based diet index and the healthy plant-based diet index had a lower risk of developing diabetes. They also had lower body mass index and were at lower risk of having high blood pressure and cholesterol.

When they looked at their blood metabolite profiles, they found that profiles associated with overall plant-based diets and healthy plant-based diets were associated with lower risk of diabetes independently of other diabetes risk factors. That clearly showed that following a healthy plant-based diet lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Metabolite profiles associated with an overall plant-based diet lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by a significant 19%. Metabolite profiles associated with a healthy plant-based diet lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by a significant 23%.

The researchers concluded that their “findings support the beneficial role of healthy plant-based diets in diabetes prevention.”

Diabetologia (2022)

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