Going vegan can prevent overweight adults from developing type 2 diabetes, an ‘important’ new study has concluded.
Following a plant-based diet can boost insulin sensitivity, considered the driving factor of the potentially deadly condition, in fat people.
And scientists also found being vegan, which is rising in popularity, can improve beta-cell function – which store and release insulin.
It is believed the benefits of the diet, involving of fruits, vegetables and legumes, stems from tackling bulging waistlines and aiding weight loss.
The study, led by researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington DC, adds to the health benefits of a vegan diet.
Dr Hana Kahleova, lead author of the trial conducted on patients without diabetes, said: ‘The study has important implications for diabetes prevention.
‘Fortunately, this study adds to the growing evidence that food really is medicine and that eating a healthful plant-based diet can go a long way in preventing diabetes.’
Often thought of as harmless, type 2 diabetes is a hidden killer and can lead to heart failure, blindness, kidney disease and leg amputations.
It is caused by having too much glucose in the blood because the body’s way of turning it into energy is not working properly.
As the condition progresses, fatalities often need to maintain a healthy diet, exercise and a combination of medications to manage it.
Someone’s life expectancy with type 2 diabetes is likely to be reduced as a result of the condition, by up to 10 years, it is believed.
The condition strikes around 30 million Americans, while in the UK there are 3.8 million diabetes patients in the UK – with 90 per cent having type 2.
Researchers allotted 75 participants – who were overweight and had no history of diabetes – into two groups.
Half followed a low-fat vegan diet for 16 weeks, based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The others made no dietary changes.
Neither group changed their exercise routines, according to the study published in the journal Nutrients.
Using mathematical models, researchers calculated those on a vegan diet had an increase in insulin secretion after eating meals.
They also had a better beta-cell glucose sensitivity – another marker of the condition – compared to those in the control group.
Vegan participants also experienced a decrease in blood sugar levels while fasting and during meal tests. Such levels often spike in patients at-risk of diabetes.
The researchers concluded that vegans experienced weight loss following the diet, which gave them the benefits noted.
The new findings add to the existing portfolio of evidence that highlights the health benefits of adopting a vegan diet and cutting out meat.
It has formerly been found to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and slash the risk of the world’s leading killer, heart disease.