What You Need to Know:
Globally, diabetes is a significant and rapidly growing health problem. In 2014, an estimated 422 million people worldwide had diabetes. Currently, there are more than 30 million Americans with diabetes, and 90-95% of those affected have type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes (fasting plasma glucose 100-125 mg/dL) is an underlying etiology of metabolic syndrome (a collection of metabolic defects, including central obesity, elevated glucose, elevated blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and low high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol) and often precedes a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Previous research in the Diabetes Prevention Program Trial showed that patients diagnosed with prediabetes can decrease their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% through lifestyle modifications. The specific lifestyle modifications included exercising 30 minutes or more most days each week and eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
Research regarding lifestyle modifications as primary prevention has expanded in recent years. A newly published systematic review and meta-analysis written by senior author Dr. Qi Sun from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown a link between the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes and eating a healthy plant-based diet. Nine previously published studies on plant-based dietary habits and type 2 diabetes in adults with a total of 23,544 subjects were included in this review. The analysis showed that participants in each of the studies who consumed a plant-based diet saw a 23% risk reduction in developing diabetes, regardless of age or body mass index (BMI). An additional 30% risk reduction was noted in participants who minimized their intake of sugar sweetened beverages and refined carbohydrates.
All plant-based diets are not created equal. To reap the positive benefits seen in this study, the plant-based diet should include healthy fruits, vegetable, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, and not refined grains, starches, or sugars.
Read about Type 2 Diabetes:
Current Diagnosis and Treatment 2019: Chapter 27. Diabetes Mellitus and Hypoglycemia
Greenspan’s Basic and Clinical Endocrinology: Chapter 17. Pancreatic Hormones and Diabetes Mellitus
Hurst’s the Heart, 14e: Chapter 28. Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology, 9e: Chapter 137. Diabetes and Other Endocrine Diseases