A plant-based diet can reduce your diabetes risk – but only if you eat right

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(Natural News) Organic foods like fruits and vegetables are incredibly nutritious and provide several health benefits.

In fact, adopting a plant-based diet and eating enough of the “right” foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can reduce the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes.

In a recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a team of researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston established that the regular consumption of nutritious plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans slashed Type 2 diabetes risk in adults by 23 percent.

Poor nutrition is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes represents a widespread health problem linked to diet and nutrition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 100 million American adults have diabetes or prediabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the metabolic disease, commonly occurs as the result of excess sugar consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. Diabetic individuals tend to be overweight with high blood glucose levels since the body is unable to properly metabolize sugar.

Although preventable, Type 2 diabetes is the easiest form of diabetes to acquire due to poor nutrition. For instance, a 2008 study showed that the regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices increased the incidence of Type 2 diabetes in African American women.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study revealed that women who drank two or more sodas each day had a 24 percent increase in Type 2 diabetes risk compared to women who drank less than one soda each month. Women who drank two or more sweetened fruit juices per day also had a 31 percent increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.


Another 2008 study in JAMA showed that low fruit and vegetable intake corresponded to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in adults aged 40 to 75. In particular, adults who had adequate vitamin C levels from regular consumption of fruits and vegetables had a 62 percent reduced diabetes risk than those who had low levels of the micronutrient.

A nutritious plant-based diet can reduce Type 2 diabetes risk

Several recent studies, such as those used in the JAMA review, have provided evidence to suggest that plant-based diets are linked to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.

However, most of the studies varied in terms of food composition. This made it difficult to come to definitive conclusions regarding diet and diabetes risk. In effect, these inconclusive studies underscore the importance of eating the right foods on top of adopting a plant-based diet in the first place.

In an attempt to synthesize the current literature on the subject of plant-based dietary patterns and diabetes risk, researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health examined a total of nine observational studies that explored the link between plant-based dietary patterns and the incidence of Type 2 diabetes among adults 18 years or older.

The studies involved had a total of 307,099 participants, where 23,544 had Type 2 diabetes. In the context of the study, “plant-based dietary patterns” included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

When the researchers assessed the overall quality of the results reported by the studies, they found that participants that adhered to plant-based dietary patterns had a 23 percent reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes than those that did not.

On the other hand, those that ate a strict, plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts had an even greater reduction in their diabetes risk.

Researchers speculate that the significant improvements in diabetes risk are linked to the effects of healthy, plant-based foods on insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels. Foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts contain less sugar and carbohydrates than bread, pastries and refined grains.

Plant-based foods also aid in weight loss and proper weight management, which help minimize the risk of metabolic conditions like obesity and high blood pressure. (Related: Why exercise is important for people with high blood pressure.)

Moreover, fruits and vegetables tend to have high levels of antioxidants that help relieve chronic low-grade inflammation linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

All things considered, these findings underscore the importance of eating the right foods on top of adopting plant-based dietary patterns in reducing diabetes risk.

Diabetes risk isn’t going to plummet overnight even after adopting a plant-based diet and eating the right foods. Start small and make manageable dietary changes, like eating fruits for dessert. Doing so makes it easier to build healthier eating habits in the long run.

For more stories on Type 2 diabetes risk factors and prevention, visit PreventDiabetes.news.

Sources include:



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