A Vegan Diet for Diabetes Control

The Physicians Committee

A Vegan Diet for Diabetes Control

July 27, 2006

A study in the August issue of Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, shows that a low-fat, vegan diet is highly effective for blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. The trial was conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, under the auspices of the George Washington University, along with the University of Toronto, and included 99 adults with type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to follow either a low-fat, vegan diet or a diet following current ADA guidelines. Investigators tracked hemoglobin A1c, a commonly used index of long-term blood glucose control which, according to the ADA, should be less than 7 percent. The average participant began the study with an A1c of 8 percent.

After 22 weeks, A1c had fallen by one full point in the vegan group, nearly twice the magnitude of the change in the ADA group. Many individuals in both groups reduced their medication use in the course of the study. Among those whose diabetes medications remained stable, A1c dropped by 1.2 points in the vegan group, compared to 0.4 in the ADA group (P = .01).

Weight loss averaged 13 pounds in the vegan group and 9 pounds in the ADA group. LDL cholesterol dropped by 21 percent in the vegan group, compared to 9 percent in the ADA group.

Prior studies have shown that a vegan diet improves insulin sensitivity and causes significant weight loss. Because it imposes no limits on calories, carbohydrates, or portion sizes, it may be easier to follow than an ADA diet, which limits each of these.

Barnard ND, Cohen, J, Jenkins DJ, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Jaster B, Seidl K, Green AA, Talpers S. A low-fat, vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, August 2006.

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