There’s plenty of research suggesting that a vegan diet can help manage type 2 diabetes. As well as reducing your risk of developing the condition, a plant-based diet is also known to reduce its long-term impact on your health.
With all the benefits, it’s no wonder many people with type 2 diabetes have adopted the vegan diet or are at least trying out this way of eating.
In fact, a recent survey found that around eight million Americans identify as vegans and more than half of them have type 2 diabetes.
If you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes (for example, if you have family members who have been diagnosed) or are already living with this condition, there are several ways in which a vegan diet may be able to help mitigate its effects. How? Keep reading to find out more.
A Brief Introduction to The Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is based on consuming only plant-based foods, with no animal-based products. This means that people following a vegan diet consume no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, or honey, and sometimes no other products that are derived from animals either.
When people first adopt a vegan diet, they often experience some initial side effects, including digestive issues, fatigue, headaches, and cravings.
However, as time progresses, your body will adapt, and you’ll find it easier to follow a vegan diet.
More Fiber And More Protein
One major benefit of a vegan diet is that it’s higher in fiber than other diets. High-fiber diets are thought to be beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes, as fiber helps to improve blood sugar levels.
In fact, increasing your fiber intake by just 10 grams a day may significantly lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A vegan diet has higher fiber content thanks to its abundance of grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Vegan diets are also higher in plant-based proteins, and research indicates that protein may be beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes.
More specifically, a protein that comes from dairy, eggs, fish, and meat may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while protein from legumes, nuts, and soy may be protective against the condition.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
A vegan diet is often high in fiber and protein, which can both help to lower blood sugar levels.
Research shows that vegan diets can result in an average reduction of 5-10% in fasting blood glucose levels, which is significant.
Vegan diets are low in saturated fat and have a low glycemic index (GI).
The GI is a ranking of how quickly certain foods are broken down in the body and turned into glucose (blood sugar).
High-GI foods are often associated with diabetes and other health conditions, whereas low-GI foods are generally healthier.
More Healthy Fats to Protect Your Heart
Vegan diets are often low in unhealthy fats, such as saturated fat and cholesterol, but high in healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).
There’s evidence that a diet rich in PUFAs may protect against type 2 diabetes, although more research is needed.
On a related note, vegan diets are naturally low in trans fats, which are known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Helps Reduce Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels in the blood often accompany type 2 diabetes. In fact, many people with type 2 diabetes also have high cholesterol.
As mentioned above, vegan diets are low in unhealthy fats, which may help reduce cholesterol, but they’re high in healthy fats known to be good for the heart.
Weight Loss and Weight Management
One of the best things about following a vegan diet is that you’re more likely to lose weight.
Research has shown that people following a vegan diet are more likely to lose weight than those on a non-vegan diet.
The vegan diet is low in calories and high in fiber, which means you’ll naturally feel fuller for longer. This is particularly helpful if you have type 2 diabetes and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes complications like heart disease.
The vegan diet is also low in saturated fats and cholesterol, which are often found to be elevated in people with diabetes. And eating a wide range of colorful foods rich in vitamins and minerals is particularly helpful for reducing elevated blood pressure, another common complication of type 2 diabetes.
Vegan Diet and Type 2 Diabetes – How Is This Possible?
Some people may wonder how a vegan diet can help manage type 2 diabetes when it’s high in fiber and low in saturated fat.
As mentioned above, vegan diets are likely beneficial for type 2 diabetes because they’re also low in unhealthy fats. Once you adopt a vegan diet, you’ll likely start paying more attention to your overall health.
You may be more likely to exercise regularly and keep tabs on your blood sugar levels. All these things can help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and reduce its long-term impact on your health.
One of the best things about following a vegan diet is that there are many tasty meal options to choose from.
Many vegan diets are based on whole foods, which makes them high in fiber and rich vitamins and minerals.
If you already have type 2 diabetes, it’s very easy to follow a vegan diet, which can be a very beneficial way to manage the condition. With so many health benefits, you have no excuse not to try it out!