4 minutes to read
A vegan diet for three months has been shown to offer significant health benefits for both obese and diabetics. A study conducted by the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen found that participants lost “meaningful” amounts of weight and experienced lower blood sugar.
The results of the study were presented at the European Conference on Obesity with the Danish research team evident in their conclusion that plant-based diets are beneficial for some individuals. 796 individuals, each of whom were clinically overweight or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, were evaluated across 11 trials. The plant-based diet, followed for at least 12 weeks, was compared to other eating plans. Factors including body weight, body mass index, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol were analyzed.
The case for a plant-based diet to improve health
Research participants who followed a plant-based diet were compared to the passive and active groups. The latter was given a specific diet plan to follow, including counting the Mediterranean or calories. The data showed that the vegetarian group showed significantly greater weight loss, with each member losing an average of 16 pounds. All members of the vegetarian group experienced a decrease in BMI as well. However, weight loss wasn’t the only benefit.
By comparing a vegan diet with those who made no dietary changes at all, blood sugar levels were determined to be variable.
“This rigorous assessment of the best available evidence to date indicates with reasonable certainty that adherence to a vegetarian diet for at least 12 weeks may lead to clinically beneficial weight loss and improvement in blood sugar levels,” Ann-Diet Termansen, lead author of the study, said in a statement. Thus they can be used in the management of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
Vegetarian diets are more likely to lead to weight loss because they are associated with lower calorie intake due to lower fat content and higher dietary fiber content. However, more evidence is needed regarding other cardiovascular outcomes.”
The study did not specify specific plant foods to eat, only that all meals were animal-free. Despite the lack of whole foods, everyone has achieved weight loss.
A vegan diet as a solution to all situations?
Diabetes and obesity are not the only conditions that are believed to be improved by following a vegetarian diet. Nor is this the first study to look at these specific health concerns. It was reported last year that a study demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was less effective for weight loss and cholesterol control than a vegetarian diet.
The need to find ways to treat diabetes in particular is clear. In 2021, approximately 10.5 percent of the world’s population had this condition. That number is expected to rise to more than 12 percent by 2045, putting additional pressure on already struggling health care systems. Obesity is similarly worrisome. 650 million people were thought to be obese in 2016. The condition kills millions of people each year, particularly in wealthy countries that can afford vegetarian eating habits, and have been asked to transition to vegan eating habits.
Looking outside obesity and diabetes, links have been made to reduce drug dependence and relieve arthritis symptoms for plant foods. A study published in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine Last year, it was concluded that older adults who follow a vegan diet take 58 percent less regular medication than those who don’t follow a vegan diet. Lower blood pressure and better weight control were observed in tandem.
Recently, a research project published its findings in April, noting that plant-based diets can help reduce symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The study claimed that in 44 adults evaluated, pain was reduced by up to 53 percent. Joint swelling is significantly improved, supporting sports studies that claim a plant-based diet can help recover faster from injury due to reduced inflammation. These allegations were considered in depth in the documentary game changers.
Perhaps most surprisingly, plant-based diets have been widely recommended as the best and healthiest choices for canine companions. In a far-reaching study commissioned by ProVeg, it was discovered that those animals who were given access to plant-based diets were, on average, healthier, had lower food-related risks and were less likely to need an appointment with a vet.
Feature image by Janis Brandt at Unsplash.