Study Finds That Plant-Based Diets Lower Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

April 18, 2022 09:59:30

A new study has found that consuming a healthy plant-based diet of legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits and coffee is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Healthy plant-based diets are rich in high-quality foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits. These diets have been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes presents a major threat to health across the globe given that more than 90% of people with diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is mainly caused by unhealthy diets and genetic predisposition as well as being obese or overweight and other lifestyle factors, including not exercising.

Over the last 20 years, the prevalence of this chronic illness globally has increased significantly, with figures showing that between 2000 and 2019, cases rose to 450 million from 150 million. Projections show that by 2045, this figure will have risen to about 700 million.

The researchers’ objective was to identify metabolite profiles associated with various pant-based diets and look into potential links between the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and these profiles. A metabolite is a substance produced or used by the chemical processes in a living being. It includes the broad number of compounds found in diverse foods and the variety of molecules that are created because these compounds are used up by the body.

For their study, the researchers carried out an analysis of the dietary intake and samples of blood plasma gathered from more than 10,000 participants from certain cohorts. Each participant was required to complete a food frequency questionnaire, which was used to measure their adherence to the following plant-based diets: an unhealthy plant-based diet index, a healthy plant-based diet index and an overall plant-based diet index.

Diet indices were based off of every individual’s intake of these food groups: animal foods (meat, fish/seafood, eggs, dairy, animal fats and miscellaneous animal-based foods); unhealthy plant foods (sweets/desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, potatoes, fruit juices and refined grains); and healthy plant foods (coffee/tea, vegetable oils, legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits and whole grains).

The researchers determined between unhealthy and healthy plant foods according to their link with type 2 diabetes, particular cancers, cardiovascular disease and other conditions, including hypertension and obesity.

They discovered that the participants who were diagnosed with this form of diabetes consumed less healthy plant-based foods in addition to being more likely to have higher cholesterol levels and hypertension, be less physically active, have a family history of diabetes, and use cholesterol and blood pressure drugs.

This study was carried out by researchers in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This study, which was led by Professor Frank Hu, had its findings published in “Diabetologia.”

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