Over recent years, vegetarianism and veganism have steadily moved from the fringe to the mainstream, with many hailing it as a more healthful option. Adding to this growing chorus is new evidence-based research which highlights the potential benefits of eating a plant-based diet. A new study concludes that for people with diabetes, cutting out animal products improves glucose control and well-being in addition to boosting weight loss.
For their study, researchers reanalyzed and combined data from several existing studies. Using findings from these studies, the scientists looked at how diet influences psychological well-being in these individuals. Although the links between a plant-based diet and the physical impact of diabetes are fairly well documented, fewer studies record the psychological effects of these dietary changes. To this end, the researchers reviewed 11 relevant randomized control trials with a total of 433 participants.
The analysis showed that individuals who ate a plant-based or vegan diet experienced significant improvements in their physical and emotional health. Individuals who had depressive symptoms also noted improvements. Specifically, nerve pain (neuropathy) related to diabetes improved more in the plant-based groups than in the other experimental groups.
Also, fasting glucose levels fell more sharply, which is a sign of improved glucose control. Similarly, levels of HbAl c — a marker of average blood glucose over recent weeks or months — also dropped for these individuals. Weight loss improved in the participants who reduced their intake of animal products: in fact, they lost almost twice the amount of weight.
Additionally, levels of fat in the blood dropped more quickly in the groups who ate a plant-based or vegan diet. Fat in the blood and carrying excess weight are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease, so this is an important finding. The study concluded that plant-based diets accompanied by educational interventions can significantly improve psychological health, quality of life, Elb.A1 c levels, and weight, and therefore the management of diabetes.
These findings support earlier claims of the physical benefits of plant-based diets. Research has already shown that limiting meat intake can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and give people who have diabetes more control over their blood sugar levels. Now, it seems that it might also assist with the psychological aspects of the disease. Moving toward a more plant-based diet is a simple and cost-effective intervention. If it has a significant impact on both the physical and emotional health of individuals with diabetes, it is an intervention worth investigating thoroughly, said the study team.