Study: Eating Fewer Animal Foods Lowers Risk For Type 2 Diabetes


Most photos of plant-based diets show beautiful red peppers, crisp cucumbers, bright orange carrots. You can’t live on those. A real plant-based diet consists primarily of starches – rice, oats, corn, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc. – with fruits and vegetables filling out the plate.

Less than 2 weeks after a study in PLOS ONE found that vegan diets were better than recommended diabetes diets for people with type 2 diabetes (they lower blood sugars, lower weight, etc. I blogged about it here) comes this study which finds eating fewer animal foods lowers the risk of developing diabetes in the first place:

Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies, PLOS Medicine, 14 June 2016

Conclusions: Our study suggests that plant-based diets, especially when rich in high-quality plant foods, are associated with substantially lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). This supports current recommendations to shift to diets rich in healthy plant foods, with lower intake of less healthy plant and animal foods.

Those cohorts were big. More than 200,000 people were followed for more than 20 years. Information about their diets were collected every 2 to 4 years. All of that lends credibility to the findings. The more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes people ate, and the less meat (including poultry), animal fats, dairy food, eggs, and seafood they ate, the lower their risk of diabetes.

As to mechanisms:

There are several mechanisms through which a healthful plant-based diet could lower the risk of T2D. Such a diet would be rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, and micronutrients such as magnesium, and low in saturated fat. … Another less well understood mechanism could be through the gut microbiome.

I thought this was interesting:

The prevalence of vegetarianism is low in the US (~3%).

That is low. And those are people who still eat eggs, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy food. I’m really in a minority.

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