A study carried out by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and published in last month’s issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that a vegan meal plan may improve the health of people with type-2 diabetes.
The study recruited 45 participants living with type-2 diabetes to try a 20-week “nutrition intervention” at a private medical practice in Washington DC. Those partaking were invited to the office after-hours for free weekly after-hours nutrition classes over a course of 20 weeks.
One group was put on a vegan meal plan (which included oils and favored low-glycemic foods) while the other group was given a portion-controlled plan that was calculated for a daily caloric deficit in order to encourage weight loss. Both groups were given information regarding portion-sizing. Patients were not asked to alter their lifestyle or medications in any way.
Body weight, hemoglobin A1c (or HbA1c, a medical term used to describe what happens when a red blood cell joins with glucose), plasma lipids, urinary albumin, and blood pressure were measured at the end of the study. According to results, although participants were in “generally good metabolic control at baseline,” both groups experienced weight loss as well as improvements to HbA1c and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol. This suggests that not only will a carefully-planned vegan diet potentially lead to weight loss, it may also lower cholesterol.
Based on results, the study concluded that “a simple program of weekly classes…integrated into a clinical practice and using either a low-fat vegan or portion-controlled eating plan, led to clinical improvements.”
“Nutrition is one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against diabetes,” said lead study author and founding president of PCRM, Dr. Neal Barnard, in a press release. “This study shows that even clinicians who are pressed for time can harness that power by offering group instruction to their patients.”
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 29 million Americans live with type-2 diabetes and one out of four do not know that they have it. This study adds to the growing body of medical evidence that shows that a diet consisting primarily of plant-based foods can be effective in managing many of the symptoms of type-2 diabetes. Last year, the American Diabetes Association endorsed a whole foods-focused diet (one rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes) as being effective in mitigating the onset and effects of type-2 diabetes, adding that doctors and nutritionists should “always” include “education on lifestyle management.”