Could This Diet Help Control Type 2 Diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association recommends a low-sodium, low-fat diet of lean meats with whole grains. Additionally, they call for plenty of fruits and vegetables to control (and possibly even prevent) Type 2 diabetes. However, studies suggest that an entirely plant-based diet may provide the best protection from Type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and other serious health complications.
Vegan Diet vs. American Diabetes Association Recommendations
According to a 2006 study funded by the National Institutes of Health, 26 percent of the diabetes patients who followed American Diabetes Association dietary guidelines for 22 weeks needed fewer medications to control their symptoms. In the same study, 43 percent of the participants who followed a vegan diet reduced their medications. Vegan and vegetarian diets encourage weight control, and help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, along with other benefits for diabetics.
Why Go Vegan?
Researchers performed a meta-analysis of the 2006 study and five other past studies in 2014 and found an increase in blood sugar control by 0.4 points on average when type 2 diabetics stopped eating meat. The saturated fats in meats, oils and dairy products may contribute to insulin resistance, while a plant-based diet without these foods improves the effects of insulin and helps to balance blood sugar levels.
The Problem With Animal Protein
A vegetarian diet, which eliminates the consumption of meat, is a healthy choice for a diabetic, but a vegan diet also gets rid of animal-derived foods such as eggs, milk and cheese for added benefits. Animal proteins may speed up the removal of calcium from the body, which may increase a person’s risk for osteoporosis. Animal proteins may be especially harmful to individuals with kidney damage. Plant-based proteins are found in beans, nuts, seeds and many vegetables, and are much healthier options.
Diabetics who adopt a vegan diet can often reduce or even eliminate their daily medication regimens. This type of information isn’t readily available to individuals with diabetes in Sierra Leone, and many diabetics suffer from serious complications.