06 Mar Type II Diabetes and the Vegan Diet
Most people tend to instantly recoil at the idea of incorporating or even trying out a vegan diet, however, this attitude is gradually changing, more so, among people with diabetes. Is the vegan diet ideal for people with diabetes in improving their blood sugar control? Yes, indeed.
Through eating a healthy vegan diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats, but high in fiber and protein, diabetes becomes very easy to handle. Fiber and protein actively lower blood sugar levels preventing the triggering of diabetic symptoms. When combined with regular exercise, you’ll soon discover it’s easier to manage your diabetes.
Pros of a Vegan Diet for Diabetes
From a review published in the journal PLoS Medicine, following a plant-based diet rich in fiber and protein significantly decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and if you already are diagnosed with diabetes, a vegan diet might just be ideal for you.
Several reasons can be attributed to the greatness of the vegan diet for people with diabetes. One primary reason is that most plant-based foods and fruits are low on the glycemic index, meaning they are less likely to spike your blood glucose levels when consumed. Foods low in the glycemic index are majorly composed of fiber and proteins, these two enhance the gut micro-fauna as well as the gut lining. This feature slows down the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the blood.
Since weight is also linked to type 2 diabetes, according to the NIH, rough 80% of diabetics are also obese, thus eating low-glycemic foods not only helps in preventing insulin resistance but also combats fat storage leading to weight loss and proper weight management.
As a bonus, plant-based proteins lower cholesterol levels and help reduce saturated fat concentration, subsequently preventing cardiovascular diseases, which diabetics are highly predisposed to.
Cons of a Vegan Diet for Type 2 Diabetes
Focusing on a plant-based diet when diabetic is essential in managing the condition. However, certain precautions must be adhered to, more so in other food groups that promote a healthy and functioning body. Since you won’t be consuming animal products like meat, dairy or eggs, and meat is a good source of heme-iron, vegans will have to be more mindful of consuming enough of this micronutrient.
Also, keep in mind that vegan sources of iron are most difficult to absorb as they are in the “non-heme” form, so it’s wise to also include foods rich in vitamin C which help the body absorb this form of iron easily. Furthermore, some vegan diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies such as calcium, zinc, riboflavin, Vitamins B12, and D, which may force you to take a supplement.
Following a Vegan Diet if You Have Type 2 Diabetes
To actively follow a vegan diet if you are diabetic:
- You’ll need to first talk to a certified diabetes dietician and educator who will help you understand how foods affect our bodies and help you plan a healthy vegan diet.
- Start counting your carbohydrates to keep your blood glucose levels optimal
- Eat vegetables for fiber, and
- Avoid oils rich in saturated fats and go for those with mono-unsaturated ones like avocado oil and olive oil and poly-unsaturated fats like sunflower oil.
A vegan diet is indeed healthy and safe if you have diabetes, however, it’s critical that you focus on foods that are nutrient-dense.