Plant-Based Diet Healthier Choice for Diabetics

Smart vegan eating can improve insulin secretion.
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Plant based diet healthier choice for diabetics

A plant-based diet can promote improved insulin secretion in people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research from a randomized crossover trial published in the journal Nutrients.

Researchers compared the hormone levels of 20 men with type 2 diabetes following consumption of a plant-based meal (a tofu-based veggie burger) or a meat-based meal (a beef burger). Secretions of both insulin and incretin, a hormone that amplifies the release of insulin, increased more after the plant-based meal.

The study also showed increased function of beta-cells, which store and release insulin, in conjunction with the plant-based meal. Beta-cell function is often diminished in people with diabetes.

“With diabetes rates rising and insulin costs soaring, this study offers hope that a solution could be close at hand: the food on our plates," says study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, in a press release.

This relatively small study joins a host of other evidence in favor of the health benefits of a plant-based diet for people with type 2 diabetes, including a November research review published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, which linked a plant-based diet to significant improvements in diabetes symptoms including mood, weight, and cholesterol levels.

One study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed a "significant" association between a plant-based diet rich in high-quality whole foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Another study published last year found that transitioning to a plant-based diet for just 16 weeks could improve insulin resistance and beta-cell function in overweight adults. 

In 2013, French researchers found an association between a meat-heavy diet, chronic acidosis, and diabetes.

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