A recent study looked at the prevention of diabetes in connection with plant-based diets, and what it found was very interesting. In the study, researchers looked at data from more than 200 000 men and women across a 20 year span. Information was regularly collected about diet, lifestyle, medical history and the development of any new diseases. They found that having a diet that emphasized plant foods and minimized animal foods was associated with about 20% lower risk of diabetes.
However, not all plant-based foods are equal. Some are healthier than others. These researchers went on to classify a healthy plant-based diet as one being high in foods like: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes; and a less healthy plant-based diet as one being high in foods like: fruit juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, and desserts. A comparison found that those who followed a healthy plant-based diet reduced their risk of diabetes by 34 %, while those who consumed a less healthy plant-based diet actually increased their risk of diabetes by 16%.
This study indicates that increasing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, while reducing animal products, may be beneficial in the prevention of diabetes.
Satija, A., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Rimm, E. B., Spiegelman, D., Chiuve, S. E., Borgi, L., et al. (2016). Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med 13(6): e1002039. DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002039