Type 2 di­a­betes study shows bene ts of veg­e­tar­ian diet

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Special Report: Financial Future -

A veg­e­tar­ian diet will shed twice as many pounds and re­duce more mus­cle fat than a low-calo­rie diet — a key find­ing for peo­ple with Type 2 di­a­betes — ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Nu­tri­tion.

Re­searchers ran­domly as­signed 74 peo­ple with Type 2 di­a­betes to follow either a veg­e­tar­ian or a con­ven­tional low-calo­rie di­a­betic diet for six months. Par­tic­i­pants in both groups had their nor­mal daily caloric in­take slashed by 500 calo­ries, on av­er­age con­sum­ing 1,500 to 1,800 calo­ries a day.

Af­ter three months, those on the veg­e­tar­ian diet shed an av­er­age of 14 pounds, com­pared with those on the low-calo­rie diet who lost seven pounds. Dur­ing the sec­ond half of the study, par­tic­i­pants stayed on their di­ets and did aer­o­bic ex­er­cise three times a week for one hour — but there was lit­tle weight loss be­cause they gained mus­cle.

Re­searchers also looked at the par­tic­i­pants’ fat stor­age tis­sue us­ing mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing. Both di­ets re­sulted in a sim­i­lar loss of fat un­der the skin. But the veg­e­tar­ian diet more ef­fec­tively cut the fat that lines mus­cles and is stored in­side mus­cles.

This is key be­cause in Type 2 di­a­betes higher amounts of mus­cle fat is as­so­ci­ated with in­sulin re­sis­tance. But once the fat starts dis­si­pat­ing the in­sulin can work more prop­erly. Re­duc­ing mus­cle fat is also im­por­tant be­cause it in­creases with age and in­ac­tiv­ity, which can lead to de­creased mus­cu­lar strength and mo­bil­ity.

“(The veg­e­tar­ian diet) is re­ally pow­er­ful,” said the study’s lead au­thor Dr. Hana Kahleova, direc­tor of clin­i­cal re­search at the Physi­cians Com­mit­tee for Re­spon­si­ble Medicine in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

“When you’re a pa­tient with Type 2 di­a­betes, you don’t want only a diet where you lose weight, but also a diet that will ad­dress the cause of the dis­ease.”

Among those on the veg­e­tar­ian diet, 42 per cent re­duced their med­i­ca­tions, com­pared with five per cent on the con­ven­tional diet. And three peo­ple

(The veg­e­tar­ian diet) is the only doc­u­mented diet that can ac­tu­ally re­verse di­a­betes.

The study’s lead au­thor Dr. Hana Kahleova

in the veg­e­tar­ian group re­versed their Type 2 di­a­betes.

Dr. Jan Hux, the chief sci­ence of­fi­cer at Di­a­betes Canada, wasn’t in­volved in the study. While she found it in­ter­est­ing, she says it’s not de­fin­i­tive, not­ing the small sam­ple group.

Al­though weight loss was sig­nif­i­cant for the par­tic­i­pants in the veg­e­tar­ian group, she noted they also lost lean mus­cle mass, which is a con­cern. How­ever, she said the study’s find­ings that a veg­e­tar­ian diet re­duces in­sulin re­sis­tance gets at the very root prob­lem of the dis­ease.

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