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Benefits of plant-based vegetarian diet

In their study paper, Dr. Kahleová and colleagues explain that changes to diet form an important part of managing type 2 , and they discuss evidence relating to vegetarian diets.

They note, for example, that compared with a conventional diet, a vegetarian diet can achieve weight loss, improve control of blood glucose, or “glycemic control,” raise insulin sensitivity, and lead to other metabolic improvements.

The authors also discuss the beneficial effects of a vegan diet – which contains only plant-based food – on health as it relates to diabetes. For example, there is evidence that in people with type 2 diabetes, a “low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors.”

Thus, for their 6-month study, they decided to compare the effects of a conventional diabetic diet with those of a plant-based vegetarian diet in 74 type 2 diabetes patients, comprising 43 percent men and 57 percent women, who were on oral medication for glucose control.

The researchers randomly assigned 37 participants to the vegetarian group and 37 to the conventional diet group. Both diets were calorie-restricted to reduce intake by 500 calories per day and all meals were provided to the participants for the 6 months of the study.

Composition of the two diets

In the vegetarian diet, around 60 percent of the calories came from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein, and 25 percent from fat. It consisted of grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, with animal products limited to a maximum of one serving of low-fat yogurt each day.

A typical meal plan on the vegetarian diet might comprise: a breakfast of cooked millet, plums, and almonds; a soup made with lentils, cabbage, and carrots at lunchtime; marinated tofu, bean sprouts, and brown rice for dinner; and snacks of hummus with carrot sticks.

In the conventional diabetic diet – devised according to a recognized guideline – around 50 percent of the calories came from carbohydrates, 20 percent from protein, and no more than 30 percent from fat (with a limit of 7 percent saturated fat).

A typical meal plan on the conventional diabetic diet might consist of: a breakfast of peanut butter raisin oatmeal; a wrap with tuna and cucumber for lunch; brown rice with honey lemon chicken and vegetables at dinner time; and snacks of carrot and celery sticks with a low-fat dairy dip, or low-fat plain yogurt.

For the first 3 months, the participants were asked not to change their physical exercise habits. Then, for the second 3 months, an aerobic exercise program was added to their dietary regimen. The researchers examined the participants at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. These exams included scans using MRI to measure changes in fat composition.

 


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