Healthy plant-based diet may sub­stan­tially re­duce type 2 di­a­betes risk

Pakistan Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

CON­SUM­ING a plant-based diet— es­pe­cially one rich in high-qual ity plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, veg­eta­bles, nuts, and legumes—is linked with sub­stan­tially lower risk of de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes, ac­cord­ing to a new study from Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“This study high­lights that even mod­er­ate di­etary changes in the di­rec­tion of a health­ful plant-based diet can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the pre­ven­tion of type 2 di­a­betes. These find­ings pro­vide fur­ther ev­i­dence to sup­port cur­rent di­etary rec­om­men­da­tions for chronic dis­ease pre­ven­tion,” said Am­bika Satija, lead au­thor of the study.

The study was pub­lished on­line in PLOS Medicine.

While pre­vi­ous stud­ies have found links be­tween veg­e­tar­ian di­ets and im­proved health out­comes, in­clud­ing re­duced risk of type 2 di­a­betes, this new study is the first to make dis­tinc­tions be­tween healthy plant-based di­ets and less healthy ones that in­clude things like sweet­ened foods and bev­er­ages, which may be detri­men­tal for health.

The study also con­sid­ered the ef­fect of in­clud­ing some an­i­mal foods in the diet.

The re­searchers fol­lowed more than 200,000 male and fe­male health pro­fes­sion­als across the U.S. for more than 20 years who had reg­u­larly filled out ques­tion­naires on their diet, lifestyle, med­i­cal his­tory, and new dis­ease di­ag­noses as part of three large long-term stud­ies.

The re­searchers eval­u­ated par­tic­i­pants’ di­ets us­ing a plant-based diet in­dex in which they as­signed plant-de­rived foods higher scores and an­i­mal-de­rived foods lower scores.

The study found that high ad­her­ence to a plant­based diet that was low in an­i­mal foods was as­so­ci­ated with a 20% re­duced risk of type 2 di­a­betes com­pared with low ad­her­ence to such a diet.

Eat­ing a healthy ver­sion of a plant-based diet was linked with a 34% lower di­a­betes risk, while a less healthy ver­sion—in­clud­ing foods such as re­fined grains, pota­toes, and sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages—was linked with a 16% in­creased risk.

Even mod­estly low­er­ing an­i­mal food con­sump­tion—for ex­am­ple, from 5-6 serv­ings per day to about 4 serv­ings per day—was linked with lower di­a­betes in­ci­dence, the study found.

“A shift to a di­etary pat­tern higher in health­ful plant-based foods, such as veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in an­i­mal­based foods, es­pe­cially red and pro­cessed meats, can con­fer sub­stan­tial health ben­e­fits in re­duc­ing risk of type 2 di­a­betes,” said Frank Hu, pro­fes­sor of nu­tri­tion and epi­demi­ol­ogy at Har­vard Chan School and se­nior au­thor of the study.

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