Is a vegetarian diet good for diabetics?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, ” Is a vegetarian diet good for diabetics?” and will discuss how a vegetarian diet can help a diabetic patient.

Is a vegetarian diet good for a diabetic?

Yes, a vegetarian diet is good for a diabetic. As a diabetic, you may want to consider becoming a vegetarian to improve your health. Indeed, a vegetarian or even plant-based diet (commonly referred to as vegan) might help you better control your diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or controlled by following one of these diets.

Current CDC data and statistics report that 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes; 7.2 million are believed to be living with undiagnosed diabetes; and 84.1 million people are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes self‐management education provided by a healthcare professional includes diet/nutrition education or medical nutrition therapy (MNT), diabetes basics, blood sugar monitoring, medication management, and exercise. Providing MNT to people with diabetes is effective in reducing hospitalization and physician services by 9.5% and 23.5%, respectively, which, in turn, reduces health care costs in the long run (3).

According to research studies, vegetarians have a higher intake of fruits and vegetables, fiber, and antioxidants, and phytochemicals. There is evidence that high consumption of fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of developing T2DM (1).

What does it mean to be a “vegetarian”?

A vegetarian, according to the Vegetarian Society, is: “Grain, pulse, nuts, seed, and vegetable and fruit eaters may or may not include dairy and eggs in their diets. Non-meat eaters include those who abstain from eating any kind of animal products, such as slaughtered animals or their products.”

Vegetarianism can be considered a social identity, as it reflects the motivations, feelings, and attitudes of those who choose to adopt it. The main motivations for choosing a vegetarian diet are related to ethical and health aspects. Animal welfare is the main motivator, followed by concerns with major environmental impacts caused by the production and consumption of food of animal origin. Regarding health, general well-being and weight maintenance are the factors that most motivate the adoption of vegetarianism (2).

Vegetarians come in many types (2):

·         Eggs and dairy products are eaten by lacto-ovo-vegetarians (usually free-range).

·         Dairy products are eaten by lacto-vegetarians; however, eggs are not allowed.

·         Vegans do not consume any animal products, including meat, fish, milk, eggs, or any other animal products.

What’s becoming vegetarian beneficial?

Numerous studies have indicated that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is connected with a decreased risk of developing various chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, as well as a lowered risk of developing cancer.

Our overall health may benefit from the rich fiber, antioxidants, folate, and phytochemicals included in these meals.

When it comes to managing Type 2 diabetes, weight reduction is frequently the most efficient method. Vegetarian diets have been proved to be advantageous for those with the illness. It is possible to maintain a healthy weight on a wholefood vegetarian diet, which has fewer calories.

However, not all vegetarian diets are equally healthy and differences in type 2 diabetes risk of vegetarians who consume an unhealthy diet (characterized by refined grains, starchy foods, added sugars, low fruits and vegetables) or healthy diet (characterized by whole grains, fruits, vegetable, legumes) were documented in a study. Results show that the healthy vegetarian diet was inversely associated with T2DM, and the unhealthy vegetarian diet was positively associated with T2DM. This shows the benefit of following a vegetarian diet that is high in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes in preventing T2DM (1).

If you eat a lot of high-fat foods like cheese and nuts, you may gain weight if you don’t pay attention to portion sizes. Maintaining a healthy weight, lowering your blood pressure, and lowering your cholesterol levels are all critical to preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in persons with diabetes. Plant-based diets may aid in these efforts.

Vegetarian diet and diabetes

Diabetes can’t be cured with a vegetarian diet. However, there may be certain advantages to a vegetarian diet. Additionally, it may help you lose weight and lessen the risk of some diabetes-related problems.

There is no one-size-fits-all vegetarian diet. Dairy and eggs, for example, are included in certain diets, whereas no animal products are permitted in others (vegan). Your diet and food choices will determine the health advantages you get from adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism, on the other hand, is a lifestyle for the majority of people.

The prevalence of diabetes among vegetarians is 1.6 to 2 times lower than among omnivores. In a 24-week controlled trial with diabetics, the individuals who followed a vegetarian diet showed greater weight loss (6.2 kg versus 3.2 kg, on average), better insulin sensitivity (30 percent versus 20 percent), greater reduction in visceral fat and medication use, in addition to a better hormonal profile (increased adiponectin and reduced leptin) and better levels of antioxidants, as compared to the ones following a standard diet for diabetes control (2).

Maintains a healthy body mass index

 If you’re looking for a low-calorie diet, go for a vegetarian one. Weight loss may benefit from this. Because vegetarians tend to have lower BMIs than those who eat a nonvegetarian diet, they are less likely to gain weight. Diabetes problems may be avoided if you maintain a healthy weight.

Improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control

When you consume a vegetarian diet that includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, your body will be better equipped to handle insulin and regulate blood sugar levels. A decreased risk of diabetes-related problems and fewer medications may be possible as a result of this.

A vegetarian diet may have negative effects on blood sugar if it is high in simple carbs, particularly starches like white rice, pasta, and potatoes.

In addition, replacing meat with other types of protein foods may incorporate more beneficial nutrients into the diet. For example, soybeans are a common protein substitution for lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans. This food is high in lysine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, calcium, and phosphate, all of which have been shown to aid in increasing glycemic control and insulin sensitivity (1).

Reduction in coronary artery disease

 Non-dairy products like nut butter and agave nectar are also good sources of protein and fiber. You may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure by eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Consider consulting with a nutritionist if you’re contemplating a vegetarian diet. It’s possible that he or she can help you devise a diet that includes all the required nutrients and calories to keep your weight in check. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s critical to keep your calorie intake under check.

A 2019 review study conducted by the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group (DNSG) of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) associated vegetarian eating patterns with a 28 percent reduction in the incidence of coronary heart disease, and a 22 percent drop in mortality from such conditions (2).

How can I lose weight if you are a vegetarian?

It’s possible to follow a healthy vegetarian diet, but if you just substitute meat and fish with processed foods like ready meals and takeout that are high in calories and poor in vitamins and minerals like cheese, creamy sauces, and dips, you’re likely to gain weight.  

Studies show that weight reduction as well as other benefits to health are possible in adhering to a vegetarian diet when a healthy vegetarian diet is followed, and whole grains, fruits, legumes and nuts and fresh foods are included and processed and ultra processed foods, soft drinks and refined grains are avoided (1,2).

Such high-fat meals, such as cottage cheese and eggs, dishes based on beans, tomato-based sauces as well as nuts and seeds may easily be replaced with wholegrain rice, pasta, or bread and vegetables paired with wholegrain cereals. It’s critical to keep an eye on your total portion sizes. Weight loss may be aided by regular physical activity.

Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.

Is absolut 3g vegetarian?

How is vegetarian cheese made?

How is vegetarian chicken made?

Can vegetarians eat lab-grown meat?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, ” Is a vegetarian diet good for diabetics?” and discussed how a vegetarian diet can help a diabetic patient.

References

  1. Olfert, Melissa D., and Rachel A. Wattick. Vegetarian diets and the risk of diabetes. Curr diab rep, 2018, 18, 1-6.
  2. Hargreaves, Shila Minari, et al. Vegetarian diet: an overview through the perspective of quality of life domains. Int j environ res public health, 2021, 18, 4067.
  3. Chester, Brittannie, et al. The effects of popular diets on type 2 diabetes management. Diab Metab res rev, 2019, 35, e3188.