New research from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found that a vegan diet may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes in patients that are overweight.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients, focused on the effects that a low-fat vegan diet had on the patients’ beta-cell function. The sixteen-week randomized clinical trial found that patients who only ate low-fat plant-based foods decreased their body fat and increased their beta-cells’ ability to regulate blood sugar.
Dr. Hana Kahleova, one of the five doctors behind this trial, is excited by its initial results. She believes the findings could support “important implications for diabetes prevention.” Considering the current health state of the American population, prevention is critical. More than 30 million Americans are overweight, and unfortunately, being overweight is the primary risk factor for developing type-2 diabetes, according to the MayoClinic. Nearly 10 percent of Americans already have diabetes, and doctors like those at PCRM are working diligently to curb the rise of this disease.
This chronic condition is diagnosed when the body either resists or fails to produce enough insulin, and without enough insulin, the body cannot regulate blood sugar levels. The symptoms of this phenomenon can be severe. Type-2 diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetic eye disease, nerve damage, and other life-threatening conditions.
Further research is required to back up this trial, but the findings are promising and support earlier studies which link a plant-based diet to type-2 diabetes prevention. Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the PCRM, even makes the assertion that this way of eating can not only prevent, but may also help to reverse diabetes. His rationale is laid out in his 2007 book, “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program For Reversing Diabetes.” The mounting research all seems to attribute fat loss, aided by a low-fat, plant-based diet, as the key factor of prevention.
“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,” says Dr. Kahleova. Perhaps in the future, doctors will prescribe plants instead of pills.
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