Plant-Based Diet may Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

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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

Melanie Allison, DNP, MSN, RN, ACNP-BC

Executive Manager, Education & Learning, McGraw-Hill

Melanie Allison is the Executive Manager of Education & Learning with McGraw Hill. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from The Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, specializing as an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP), from Vanderbilt University. Melanie has more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in adult cardiology and advanced lipid management. She is a part-time faculty member at a top school of nursing where she has taught for more than 16 years.