A recent study divided participants into groups based on their preference for animal products, and then looked at the rate of type 2 diabetes among them. The groups ranged from vegan (those who consume no meat, eggs, or dairy) to non-vegetarians (people who consume animal products on a regular basis). There are many categories in between, such as lacto-ovo vegetarians who consume eggs and dairy but no meat.
Researchers found that the incidence of diabetes went up as consumption of animal products increased. The participants who ate animal products regularly were more than twice as likely to have type 2 diabetes than the vegan participants!
The researchers concluded that a diet based mostly or entirely on plant foods “provides substantial protection against obesity and type 2 diabetes.” Vegetarian diets tend to be rich in nutrients that are associated with a reduced risk for diabetes, such as fiber, complex carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E- just to name a few! Vegetarian diets also tend to be low in nutrients associated with an increased risk for obesity and diabetes, such as saturated fat.
It's certainly not necessary to avoid meat altogether to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, but this research suggests that an increase in plant foods can help keep your blood sugar in check. Next time you’re fueling up be sure to pile those leafy greens, beans, and tubers high on your plate!
This article is a repost of one I wrote for Pinnacle Physical Therapy.