Kiss Meat (and Diabetes) Goodbye?

A dinner of tabbouleh, sliced fresh tomatoes, and marinated chickpeas sounds tasty—and the fact that it doesn’t contain meat may help control your diabetes.

In a study by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Georgetown University, researchers placed seven people with type 2 diabetes on a high-fiber, low-fat vegan diet of unrefined vegetables, grains, beans, and fruit for three months. Four other people followed the American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet, which includes lots of plant foods but also chicken and fish.

The fasting blood glucose levels of the vegans decreased 59 percent more than those of the nonvegans. The vegans also lost an average of 16 pounds, compared to 8 pounds for the nonvegans, and they needed less insulin to control their blood sugar. (The ADA group’s insulin dosages didn’t change.) Protein loss in the urine—a sign of diabetic kidney damage—dropped in the vegan group but got worse in the other group.

Of course, this study was very small. But in a larger, 21-year study of 26,000 Seventh Day Adventists, all vegetarians, the risk of death from diabetes was half that of the white population in the United States.

Maybe you won’t scrape your plate of all animal products today—a big change from the typical Western diet—but these studies do drive home the importance of whole grains, vegetables, and other plant foods.

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