Nutrition and chronic disease journal Nutrition and Diabetes released a study last month showing that a vegan diet may help with pain associated with diabetes. For people who have type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect. The condition is caused by peripheral nerve damage, and while it can affect your whole body, it most commonly affects your hands and feet, causing pain, numbness and weakness. Diabetes is thought to cause neuropathy because it inhibits the body’s ability to accurately convey messages about temperature and pain.
In the study, 35 adults with both type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy were asked to take B12 supplements. Of those 35, 17 were asked to follow a vegan diet. The other 18 were asked to maintain their ordinary diets.
The vegan diets required the elimination of all animal products, including meat, fish, and dairy, while substituting high glycemic index foods, like cold cereals, white potatoes, and sugar, for low glycemic index foods; like oats, sweet potatoes, lentils, and barley. They were also asked to limit high-fat foods and reach for a goal of eating 40 grams of fiber each day, through the consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
After 20 weeks, the test group on the vegan diet lost an average of 15 pounds, while the other lost an average of 1 pound. Moreover, the individuals on the low-fat vegan diets showed lower blood pressure and decreased pain. A nerve test done on participant’s feet also suggested nerve damage might be slowing down.
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Dr. Neal Bernard, the study’s lead author, admits to the need for larger and longer trials to determine conclusively whether or not a vegan diet is an effective way to reduce pain associated with type 2 diabetes. However, the idea that diet plays such an instrumental role in pain reduction is exciting news when so much of diabetes management emphasizes medication.
L.D. and her eleven-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids earlier this year, and are currently enjoying exploring their new city! She likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.