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Effectiveness of a Plant-Based Diet for the Prevention of Diabetes (Type 2)

Veganism is one of the most chosen lifestyles in recent times. In fact, the rise in people becoming vegans have tripled over time. One of the reasons for this spike is the health benefits of plant-based foods such as prevention of diabetes, lower risk of chronic diseases, and such. However, one of the common questions about vegan diabetic is to know the best food for diabetic patient and how to cure diabetes naturally with natural food.

So, on World Vegan Day, we tell you everything about the link of veganism and diabetes and is it even possible reversing Type 2 diabetes. So read on!

What Is Veganism?

Veganism is a fast-growing lifestyle choice that enables maximum elimination of any form of cruelty or exploitation of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. The people who follow veganism who are often known as vegans follow a plant-based diet and avoid all animal foods such as meat, eggs, honey, or even dairy,

While most of the people become vegans to promote animal welfare or welfare of the planet, some of them prefer a plant-based lifestyle for its health benefits such as prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases. 

 Processed Food vs Plant-Based food: Effect on Diabetes

One of the immediate benefits of plant-based food over processed food is the impact the former has on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Plant-based diets are known to help in weight loss as it does not contain fats.

Studies had shown a significant impact on the prevention of diabetes, especially Type-2 when people consumed foods that are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, please note a plate full of plant-based options can still increase your sugar levels if you are not mindful. The key is to maintain the portions and eat in moderation. 

 Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

A vegan diet or a plant-based diet mainly depends on fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. In fact, studies have indicated the benefits of a vegan diet to have helped in the treatment of chronic diseases, one including the prevention of diabetes. Moreover, a plant-based diet is also shown results to be helping in a lower percentage of fat, thus helping vegans to be in their right weight.

Here are the other benefits of a plant-based diet:

–       Better nutrition

Plants provide better nutrition as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, which help in the prevention of diabetes. Fibre helps in maintaining waistline, improve heart health, gut and blood sugar. Moreover, studies have suggested that people adopting a plant-based diet are more likely to have better nutrition than people who have an omnivorous diet.

–       Healthier heart

Adopting a vegan diet can help you in improving your heart health as it may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It not only lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, but also help in maintaining sugar levels. Plant-based diets also help in quell inflammation, thus improving heart health and enabling the prevention of diabetes.

Effectiveness of a Plant-Based Diet for the Prevention of Diabetes (Type 2)

–       Prevention of diabetes

Studies have indicated that people who adopt a vegan lifestyle tend to have higher insulin sensitivity in comparison to Lacto-Ovo vegetarians or people with an omnivorous diet. Moreover, research shows that meat-eaters are doubly at risk of having diabetes in comparison to vegans. 

–       Weight loss

Vegans or people who follow a plant-based diet tend to be on the lower side of the BMI when compared to omnivorous counterparts. Moreover, studies show that people adopting plant-based diets are more likely not just to reduce the weight but keep it off in comparison to otherwise and thus help in the prevention of diabetes.

–       Reduces cancer risk

It has consistently been proven that regular eating of veggies, fruits, and legumes to reduce the risk of cancer. Moreover, the phytochemicals in plants also help in preventing cancer. 

The Perfect Plant-Based Diet

If you plan to embark on a new vegan journey, it is essential to understand a few aspects that can help in a smooth transition for the prevention of diabetes. Whether you are completing starting a plant-based diet, or want to gradually increase vegan foods, or remove meat and dairy from your diet, here is a list of recommendations that can help in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet:

– Protein

Protein is one of the most concerned nutrition in a vegan diet. However, it is not as difficult for vegans to get proteins as it might seem. Here are a few plant-based food options that are rich in proteins:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Vegetable-based milk such as almond or soya
  • Quinoa
  • Soya products such as soya cheese and soya milk

Although the foods mentioned above are loaded with proteins, these are equally sourced with carbohydrates. Therefore, it is important to check the glycemic index and choose foods that are high in fibre. 

– Vitamins

It is essential for the body to get its doses of vitamins for better function and a healthy nervous system. However, there are specific vitamins that are prominent to found in animal-based foods, especially Vitamin B12. To compensate for this, vegans must either eat foods that fortify B12 or take supplements for the same. Foods that are fortified with B12 include:

  • Some plants and yoghurts
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Yeast extract
  • Some types of spread

– Calcium

Calcium is another important nutrient that is essential to your body for strong bones. Moreover, calcium is important until the age of 25, as bones are growing. It is comparatively difficult to have a calcium-rich diet from a dairy eater. Therefore, it is important to choose dairy alternatives, such as:

  • Oranges
  • Almonds
  • Chickpeas
  • Red kidney beans
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Spinach

 – Omega-3

Omega-3 is an important nutrient for improving heart health. As people with diabetes are always at a higher risk of diabetes, it is needed for them to include foods rich in omega-3 to be part of their diet. Plant-based foods that are high on omega-3 are:

  • Flaxseed or rapeseed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Soya-based foods

Although they are not equally nutritious like an oily fish, the above-mentioned can be options. However, you may want to consider taking adequate amounts or take supplements of Omega-3 acids. 

– Iron

Another nutrient present in meat is iron which is present in the following plant-based options:

  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Beans and pulses
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Bread

Another important point to consider is that vegans must consume more fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin C as it helps in increasing the absorption of iron in the body. 

 Veganism and Prevention of Diabetes

Diabetes is a progressive condition, and therefore prevention of diabetes is never possible despite making changes to your lifestyle. By making such changes to your lifestyle, one can only maintain the sugar levels in the normal range. However, if one is not willing to change his/her habits, the sugar levels can spike in no time. 

Therefore, it is more important to take control of your life and make choices that are healthy for not just the present but for the future. 

 A vegan diet is a healthy lifestyle choice for the long-run. However, it also does not mean that one should negate the benefits of dairy and meat products. Becoming a vegan is a choice, and you must follow it if you believe it. However, it is equally important to ensure that you follow a nutrient-dense diet. For assistance, you should consult a diabetes educator who can customize your diet plan according to your needs. And, in all this, do not forget to monitor your sugar levels regularly!

Also read blog about Best breakfast for diabetes


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