Vegan Diet & Diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body metabolizes sugar (or glucose, take your pick), the fuel that provides our bodies with energy. This is a direct result of how insulin in your body performs or, in some cases, the lack of insulin that your body produces. Many have speculated that consuming too much sugar over a period of time contributed to the onset of type-2 diabetes, and while this is neither confirmed nor denied, obesity has been listed as a contributing factor. Many complications can arise from having type-2 diabetes, such as heart and blood vessel disease, damage to various areas of the body (including nerves, eyes, feet and kidneys), as well as hearing impairment, skin conditions and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The good news is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can usually be enough to manage type-2 diabetes by itself. Eating properly and exercising regularly can help manage your condition, and under more extreme circumstances, there are even medical routes that you can seek out to take steps against it.

However, eating healthy and exercising regularly are usually enough by forcing your body to use up glucose and make your cells more sensitive to the effects of insulin (a good thing). A new diet recently promoted by the American Diabetes Association has come forth after rigorous studies, showing that a vegan diet can actually be greatly beneficial to those with type-2 diabetes.

How it works is relatively simple. With weight being such a predominant factor in risk for type-2 diabetes, consuming foods that are more fatty or rich in carbohydrates obviously contributes to that – especially if you lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle. This is not to say all carbohydrates perform the same in the body (or even all fats, for that matter), but choosing to eat refined or highly-processed foods will contribute more to weight gain and less toward actual energy production in the body. Carbohydrates you might want to consider in this regard include whole grains (unprocessed or minimally processed) as well as fruits, vegetables and beans.

Surprisingly enough, the vegan diet effectively cuts out the processed foods and foods high in fat, replacing them with – surprise, surprise – fruits, fiber-rich vegetables and plant-based proteins (including beans) that could contribute to staving off the onset of type-2 diabetes. What also makes this diet relatively appealing is that these listed foods are also rather low on the glycemic index, furthering their health benefits.

This is not to say that a vegan diet is the cure-all for preventing type-2 diabetes. There are other inherent factors that contribute, including family history, age and even race. However, a healthier diet could be a step in the right direction to counteract even these inevitable factors in your life. And for those of you that are still averse to the idea of a vegan diet as a whole, just consider that there are still probably healthier alternatives even in the animal kingdom to the cheeseburgers and the steaks and the pork loins that many of us enjoy if you feel that type-2 diabetes is a legitimate concern in your life.