Type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent among older adults globally, and this is mainly due to the change in their lifestyle and work culture. Often, this can be prevented to a certain extent with dietary changes like eating more plant-based food or switching to plant-based diets like vegetarianism or veganism and getting regular exercise. However, many people have a genetic predisposition for developing diabetes, and they must be more cautious.
An Overview Of Type 2 Diabetes
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing globally. As per the latest statistics, more than 400 million people are suffering from this condition. Due to these reasons, many renowned health experts and institutions consider it to be a global epidemic, and the number of people suffering from it is only going to increase further. Apart from this, diabetes increases the overall cost of individual healthcare when compared to those without diabetes. Also, type 2 diabetes increases the mortality rate, especially in older adults, and because of this, it is one of the leading causes of death in developed countries like the United States of America.
Dietary Choice And Insulin Resistance
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body of an individual develops insulin resistance, or it cannot produce enough insulin. Studies have shown that the change in lifestyle and dietary habits is the main reason for the rise in its global prevalence. For example, people are increasingly sedentary and consume more calorie-dense food like meat, fast foods, sweetened beverages, etc.
In a landmark study conducted with older adults above the age of 60, lifestyle changes like eating more plant-based food and more physical activities in the form of exercise addressed the root cause of type 2 diabetes. Also, there are the added benefits of reducing polypharmacy and comorbidities. Consuming a plant-based diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and pulses reduces the chances of prediabetic conditions developing into type 2 diabetes. Also, they reduced the rate of obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality. In a nutshell, adopting a plant-based diet can reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and can also be useful for the treatment of this condition.
Cohort Studies Of Plant-Based Diet
Large cohort studies have shown that the incidence of type 2 diabetes is lower in those who consume plant-based meal compared to those who follow an omnivore diet. Also, they have a lower body mass index which is one of the primary indicators of health and fitness. This also reduces the risk of developing other systemic ailments like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, etc. The eating pattern also affected the prevalence of this disease; this was examined by increasing and decreasing the consumption of plant-based and animal-based foods stepwise. From this, it was found that vegans had the lowest chances for developing type 2 diabetes, this was followed by lacto-ovo vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, and semi-vegetarians. Nonvegetarians had twice that rate of type 2 diabetes compared to vegans, and this benefit was intermediate for semi-vegetarians. Besides, semi-vegetarians and nonvegetarians who participated in this study ate meat and poultry once a week or more; This shows that the increase in risk for type 2 diabetes is disproportionate.
Nutrient Component Of Plant-Based Diet
Whole food plant-based diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds has higher fiber content, and this is one of the main reasons for its health benefits. Also, a daily serving of specific fruits like blueberries, grapes, apples, leafy greens, and root vegetables have been linked to lower the rate of diabetes. Likewise, consuming legumes ameliorated insulin resistance, as well as protects the body from other metabolic syndrome diseases like stroke, and heart conditions. Nuts and cereals have high amounts of antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative damages due to free radicals. So, consuming them prevents, as well as reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Plant-Based Diet For Treating Type 2 Diabetes
The effectiveness of high-carbohydrate and a low-fat plant-based diet in treating diabetes has been studied from as far back as the 1950s. For this, researchers predominantly employed vegan and vegetarian diets. The recommended vegan diet consists of 75% of energy from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and 10% from fats. This mainly consisted of plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Also, to get fat, low-glycemic index foods like beans, fatty vegetables, and fruits like avocados were consumed. Patients who consumed this type of diet were able to reduce their diabetic medications. Finally, the other major benefit of following a plant-based diet is a reduction in weight which improved the overall quality of lifestyle.
On a final note, eating predominantly plant-based food also helps to reduce the complications due to type 2 diabetes.