How Vegetarianism Helps Manage and Prevent Diabetes
Did you know that it is estimated that there will be a staggering 693 million cases of Diabetes by 2045? Diabetes is undoubtedly becoming a public health crisis, and finding effective management and prevention methods is extremely important. Luckily, one such method has been found, tested, and deemed highly effective.
What is this miracle cure, you may be wondering? It is simpler than you may think…vegetarianism.
Yes, whether you (or your loved one) have been diagnosed with type-1 or type-2 Diabetes, adopting a vegetarian diet can help you manage this disease. And not only can vegetarianism help you manage type-2 Diabetes, but it has also been proven to prevent it! But how is this possible?
Well, a vegetarian diet consisting of mainly unprocessed foods has indisputable health benefits. This can be highly advantageous for people with Diabetes who need to be more conscious of what they eat and how it impacts their bodies.
We will be discussing these benefits shortly below. Still, the main advantages of vegetarianism for Diabetes are the ability to maintain a healthy weight, helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels, improving insulin response, and helping reduce the risk of complications related to Diabetes.
We will also discuss how a vegetarian diet can help prevent Diabetes, but first, we will explain what Diabetes is and what causes it. Let’s begin!
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic illness that impacts how your body processes insulin. In a healthy person, food is broken down, and sugars are released into the blood. When this happens, the pancreas releases insulin to allow blood sugar into the body’s cells to be used as energy.
In a person with Diabetes, the pancreas does not produce or cannot correctly use this insulin which means that blood sugar stays in the bloodstream. This is very dangerous as it can lead to significant health issues and complications.
Diabetes comes in three forms: type-1, type-2, and gestational Diabetes. Type-1 Diabetes is a form of Diabetes that most people are diagnosed with as young children or teens. It is an autoimmune reaction (which essentially means that the body is attacking itself) where the body does not make insulin.
On the other hand, type-2 Diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults after the body stops using insulin well and, subsequently, cannot keep the body’s sugar levels stable. Over 90% of people have this form of Diabetes as its development is linked to an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.
Lastly, gestational Diabetes develops in pregnant women but usually goes away once the baby is born. However, this form of Diabetes can increase your risk of developing type-2 Diabetes later in life.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Diabetes at the moment. You can only take medication, lose weight and learn how to self-manage this disease. In this case, prevention is better than cure (given that there is no cure).
So, let us look at how vegetarianism helps to prevent Diabetes type-2.
How to Avoid Diabetes Type-2 by Going Vegetarian
Studies show that there are significantly fewer vegetarians with Diabetes type-2 than meat-eaters. But why? It all comes down to diet.
Vegetarian diets help vegetarians avoid the risks associated with developing type-2 Diabetes, such as poor diet and lifestyle choices. This is because many non-vegetarians consume too many processed foods and sugars and often too little fruit and vegetables.
Conversely, vegetarians are much more likely to consume foods rich in dietary fiber and plant protein, such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, cereals, and beans. Moreover, vegetarians consume much less saturated fat, abundant in diets where people eat meat and meat products.
However, it is essential to note that vegetarian diets are no longer healthy if, instead of meat, you mainly consume processed foods that are high in calories and have little to no nutrients.
For example, eating a pastry or pie instead of a steak is not considered a balanced diet, and you will likely not see health benefits from this kind of vegetarian ‘diet.’ But those vegetarians who partake in a balanced, plant-based diet high in dietary fiber and low in saturated fats will see significant benefits!
These vegetarians are better equipped to manage their blood sugar levels, reduce harmful cholesterol levels and maintain healthy blood pressure – all risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes and common diabetes comorbidities, such as heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
But perhaps the greatest of all of the ways that the vegetarian diet helps prevent the development of type-2 Diabetes is by assisting people in losing weight and helping them keep this weight off. Obesity is the number one leading risk factor for the development of type-2 Diabetes, and as we know, diet is a huge factor in weight gain and weight control.
Now that we have seen how to use vegetarianism for diabetes prevention let us look into how vegetarianism helps manage Diabetes.
How to Manage Diabetes by Going Vegetarian
While it is not possible for a vegetarian diet to completely cure your Diabetes, it does offer unique dietary benefits to help you better manage your disease. One reason vegetarianism may work so well to prevent, manage or treat Diabetes is because of what the diet consists of. As we know, vegetarians do not consume meat and, occasionally, do not consume any animal by-products (dairy, eggs, etc.) either.
Instead, their diets comprise various plant-based proteins, grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. These foods are naturally higher in antioxidants, phytochemicals, folate, and fiber.
Some of the benefits of vegetarianism for Diabetes include weight management, helping your body avoid possibly life-threatening complications associated with Diabetes, and may even help your body become more receptive to insulin.
Healthy Weight & Blood Sugar Maintenance
Consumption of less saturated fats and more fiber has been connected to a reduced risk of chronic illness. Vegetarians consume more fiber than the 20-35 grams per day recommendation, which means they will have much more stable blood sugar levels as foods high in fiber digest much slower.
This also helps vegetarians stay fuller for longer, consume fewer foods, and ultimately lose weight. Weight loss is essential because it is the most effective method to manage type-2 Diabetes.
Additionally, vegetarians have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than people who consume meat. A lower BMI means that your body will have an easier time managing blood sugar and reducing your risk of complications.
Less Risk of Cardio Vascular Disease
Vegetarianism has been connected to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and a risk naturally elevated in those with type-2 Diabetes. This is because vegetarianism helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This is essential for someone trying to keep their Diabetes under control.
Improved Insulin Response
Another way that vegetarianism helps control Diabetes is by helping the body become more responsive to insulin. This is connected to consuming more fruits, vegetables, and other foods common in the vegetarian diet.
These foods help improve blood sugar, ultimately decreasing insulin resistance, which means you will have to take less medicine and reduce your risk of contracting health complications related to Diabetes.
Vegetarian diet and diabetes complications
Diabetes mellitus is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is projected that over 380 million people will have Diabetes by 2030. One of the main complications associated with Diabetes is neuropathy, which occurs due to damage to nerves caused by high blood sugar levels. This can lead to numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and even loss of feeling in the feet.
In addition to having an increased risk of developing neuropathy, people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and congestive heart failure.
These conditions can often lead to amputation of limbs, blindness, kidney failure, and death. Therefore, it is critical to managing Diabetes effectively to reduce the risk of developing these complications.
One way to do this is to follow a vegetarian diet. Vegetables and fruits provide many nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that help manage Diabetes better with improved glycemic control, which can manage complications of Diabetes.
To Sum It All Up…
In an age where hundreds of millions of people are being diagnosed with and are even dying from diabetes and diabetes-associated complications, it is reassuring to know that you can utilize something as simple as vegetarianism for diabetes management and prevention.
While it is true that Diabetes is an extremely dangerous, chronic illness without any known cure, numerous studies and specialists agree that diet can make a difference in terms of your prognosis. If you or someone you love is prediabetic, ensuring that you are keeping a well-balanced vegetarian diet is an excellent way to prevent the full onset of this disease.
Suppose you have already been diagnosed with Diabetes. You can implement a vegetarian diet to help manage blood sugar levels, improve insulin response, and avoid life-threatening complications like cardiovascular disorders.
Of course, vegetarianism can benefit people who are not prediabetic or diabetic as one of the key advantages of going vegetarian is a reduced risk of developing diabetes type-2.
Becoming a vegetarian has never been easier. Numerous restaurants offer vegetarian options, phone apps provide advice on becoming vegetarian, and others help you locate vegetarian products on store shelves.
But remember to stay safe! Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before switching to vegetarianism, and ensure that you carefully monitor your diet, carbohydrate intake, sugar levels, and nutrient intake once you have. This will ensure you are the happiest, healthiest version of yourself.
A vegetarian diet reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). This association appears firmer among vegans compared to people following a mixed diet. Vegetarians are less likely to develop T2DM than meat eaters, and the protective effect is strongest among vegans. In addition, vegetarians tend to have better glycemic control and lipid profiles compared to meat eaters.
The benefits of a vegetarian diet include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and a lower incidence of hypertension. However, it is difficult to establish whether one dietary pattern is superior to another because of many confounding variables such as age, sex, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption, body mass index, socioeconomic status, education level, and ethnicity.