Type 2 diabetes is spreading fast. Over 21 million people have been diagnosed with the disease in the United States, triple the number from 1990. Type 2 diabetes has devastating health consequences. It may lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, and stroke.
When you are diagnosed with diabetes the treatment is a diet change. This usually involves reducing your portion sizes by measuring and weighing your food and of course limiting the amount of carbohydrate consumed. However, have you ever considered a vegan diet? Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can be very helpful in preventing and controlling diabetes. he vegan diet has already been proven in multiple studies to prevent type 2 diabetes occurring when it is compared to people whose diets are higher in fat and meat. The evidence can be seen in Japan where meat is consumed as a garnish and diabetes is rare. However, when Japanese people move to the western diet they increased their risk of diabetes. Research suggests that vegans reduce their risk of diabetes by 78% compared with people who eat meat daily. So what could it do for someone who has diabetes?
The plant-based diet is low in saturated fats – these are fats which are most commonly found in meats, dairy and oils from the tropics – e.g. Coconut oil and Avocado oil. Diets which are higher in fat have been shown to increase the bodies resistance to insulin while a low fat, plant-based diet improves insulin sensitivity, helps with weight loss and reduces blood sugar and cholesterol. People who eat a plant-based diet have better insulin resistance meaning better blood sugar levels and better levels of insulin, which enables blood sugar to enter your cells. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carbohydrate and calorie restrictions were not necessary and the diet still promoted weight loss and lowered participants’ A1C. In addition, the monounsaturated fats which are found in nuts and linseeds have been shown to actually protect against the detrimental effects of saturated fats.
The first step of adopting the vegan diet for treatment or prevention of diabetes is eliminating all animal products. This means removing animal cholesterol and fat which increases the risk of CVD which is a particular problem if you all have diabetes and/or a weight problem. I bet your wondering “what about my protein?” It’s true we do need protein, but we DO NOT need animal protein. The proteins found in animals has been proven to accelerate kidney damage in those who already have kidney problems, it increases the loss of calcium in from the body which can lead to kidney stones and osteoporosis. By eating only plant-based proteins these risks are reduced or even eliminated.
You will also have to avoid vegetable oils, they are healthier than animal fats but they are high in fat. It is best to keep these to the minimum.
Now it is obvious that converting to a vegan diet does involve some compromise but there are helpful links and recipes online to make following a vegan diet for diabetes easy. What’s more, there are over 542,000 people in the UK following a vegan diet so there are more and more options available every day. When planning your diet you need to ensure that protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals are balanced. What is great is that vegan diets do not demand portion or calorie counting which makes them easier to follow and meaning you’ll never be hungry, unlike some vegan diets.
If you need further guidance here is a sample 3 day meal plan for a vegan diabetic diet.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with soymilk, cinnamon, and raisins
Lunch: Hummus and veggie wrap with fresh fruit salad
Dinner: Pasta with marinara sauce and plenty of vegetables
Breakfast: Southwestern Tofu Scramble with whole-wheat pita
Lunch: Hearty vegetable soup with whole-grain crackers
Dinner: Vegetarian chilli with brown rice and tossed salad
Breakfast: Melon with whole-grain toast (unbuttered or with vegan butter)
Lunch: Bean burrito with salsa, veggies, and vegan sour cream
Dinner: Grilled Ratatouille Salad with whole-wheat couscous
If you are considering adopting this diet for your own diabetes but aren’t convinced check out –