With Type 2 diabetes expected to double by 2030, doctors are looking seriously at ways of reversing the disease through means other than pharmacological intervention, and plant-based diets are showing up as an effective means.
Despite a huge range of diabetes medicines and the best efforts of diabetes educators, good control of diabetes and its offshoot malaises (such as cardiovascular disease) remains difficult to achieve for much of the population.
Dietary habits and body weight definitely play roles in Type 2 diabetes, but the question has remained about what eating pattern best addresses glycemia, cardiovascular risk factors, and weight control.
Recently a team of American and Japanese researchers found that a plant-based diet is more powerful than pharmacological treatment at reversing diabetes than previously thought.
The study, a meta-analysis (widely considered the highest level of scientific evidence) was published in Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy and combined the results of six prior studies.
The researchers found that a plant-based diet significantly improves blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetes. Earlier studies had shown that plant-based diets could improve hemaglobin A1c (a key indicator of blood sugar control) as much as 1.2 points (far greater than the effect of typical oral diabetes medicines).
Combining the results of all available studies, the benefit of leaving out meat, cheese, and eggs was as much as 0.7 points in some studies, and averaged about 0.4 points overall.
Interestingly, and probably a relief to diabetes sufferers the world over, was that most of the studies did not require participants to reduce their calorie or carbohydrate intake.
The American Diabetes Association's Clinical Practice Recommendations have cited the value of vegan diets for Type 2 diabetes for several years. These new results will bolster the confidence of doctors who aim to reduce their patients' need for medications.
And great news for the plant based and raw food diet world!