Everyone knows the key to good health is a healthy diet. A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston has showed that a plant-based diet may significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study contained information from over 200,000 Americans that completed a series of questionnaires about their diet, lifestyle, medical history and current health. This information was collected over a period of 20 years. “This study highlights that even moderate dietary changes in the direction of a healthful plant-based diet can play a significant role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes,” said lead author of the study Ambika Satija, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School.
The study presents clear evidence that current dietary recommendations are supported by the findings. The results are clear, the healthier the diet, the lower the risk for type 2 diabetes. Those that followed a plant-based diet low in animal-based foods had a 20 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t. A plant-based diet is one that contains plenty of healthy vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Those in the study that followed a less healthy plant-based diet had a 16 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. This less healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits and whole grains but also included refined grains, potatoes and sugar-sweetened beverages. This shows that a healthy diet needs to contain less sugar and less simple carbohydrates in order to be effective.
The study also showed that a healthy version of the plant-based diet that included whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes lowered the risk for type 2 diabetes by 34 percent. “A shift to a dietary parent higher in healthful plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods, especially red and processed meats, can confer substantial health benefits in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes,” said the study’s senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard. This study was published this Tuesday, June 14th, in the journal PLoS Medicine and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.