What is the impact of vegetarian diets on type 2 diabetes?

The impact of vegetarian diets on type 2 diabetes can be illustrated by the findings from the study with 8,401 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Individuals who ate meat at least once per week had a 29 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to vegetarians. Among those who consumed processed meats, the risk was 38 percent higher. Individuals consuming a vegetarian diet for at least 17 years had a 74 percent lower risk for diabetes compared to those eating meat at least once per week.

In addition to reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, individuals who have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should expect to have a better blood glucose control and/or even reverse the disease all together. The study conducted by Dr. Barnard and his team with 99 type 2 diabetes patients supports the above conclusion. These individuals were divided into two groups. The first group included 49 individuals who were between 33 and 82 years who were given a vegan diet. The second group of 50 people between 27 and 80 years were recommended carbohydrate counting as dietary management of blood sugar. Prior to the beginning of the study, hemoglobin A1c, a measure of long-term blood sugar control, was similar in both groups (8.0 percent for the vegan group and 7.9 percent for the other group). Twenty-two weeks later, it was reduced to 7.1 percent (11 percent lower) in the vegan group and 7.4 percent (6 percent lower) in the alternative group. In addition, from the 49 individuals in the vegan group, 21 (43 percent) reduced the dose of diabetes medications while only 26 percent of patients in the other group were able to accomplish that.

There are actually a number of youtube videos in which individuals who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at one time and who after adopting a vegetarian, mainly a vegan diet, no longer had type 2 diabetes, are featured. Although this evidence is anecdotal, there are many hundreds if not thousands of such individuals, showing the type 2 diabetes is completely reversible when appropriate dietary changes are made. For more information on diabetes, please review my manuscript “Vegetarian diets in prevention and management of diabetes and its complications” in the Publications/Journal link on this website.