New Mega-Study Shows Plant-Based Diets Are Effective as Diabetes Treatment

The Physicians Committee

New Mega-Study Shows Plant-Based Diets Are Effective as Diabetes Treatment

November 13, 2014

People with diabetes looking for a more powerful treatment should consider a plant-based diet, according to a team of American and Japanese researchers.

Combining the results of six prior studies, the researchers found that a plant-based diet significantly improves blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. Earlier studies had shown that plant-based diets could improve a key indicator of blood sugar control, called hemoglobin A1c, as much as 1.2 points, which is far greater than the effect of typical oral diabetes medicines. The new study is a meta-analysis, widely considered the highest level of scientific evidence. Focusing on longer-term effects and combining the results of all available studies, the benefit of leaving out meat, cheese, and eggs was as much as 0.7 points in some studies, and averaged about 0.4 points overall. Most of the studies did not require participants to reduce their calorie or carbohydrate intake.

The American Diabetes Association’s Clinical Practice Recommendations have cited the value of vegan diets for type 2 diabetes for several years. The new study results will give more confidence to doctors who aim to reduce their patients’ need for medications. Currently, more than 100 million Americans have either diabetes or prediabetes.

The new study is published in Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy.

Yokoyama Y, Barnard ND, Levin SM, Watanabe M. Vegetarian diets and glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2014;4:373-382.

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