Vegetarian diets help type 2 diabetics lose weight

Vegetarian diets help type 2 diabetics lose weight and could prevent them dying of heart disease

  • Vegetarian diets improve type 2 diabetics’ insulin and cholesterol levels 
  • Low insulin and cholesterol is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease
  • Expert claims 60-to-70% of people with type 2 diabetes die of heart disease
  • Plant-based diets benefit heart health as they are low in fat and high in fibre
  • Around 30 million people in the US and three million in the UK have diabetes 
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Vegetarian diets help type 2 diabetics lose weight and could prevent them dying of heart disease, new research suggests.

Ditching meat also improves such patients’ insulin and cholesterol levels, which protect against heart attacks and strokes, a study found.

Study author Hana Kahleova, from the non-profit organisation Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington DC, said: ‘Sixty-to-seventy percent of people who have type 2 diabetes die of heart disease.

‘The good news is this study shows that the simple prescription – eating a plant-based diet – can reduce heart problems and improve type 2 diabetes at the same time.’

Plant-based diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are thought to benefit heart health due to them being low in fat and high in fibre. 

Around 30 million people in the US and three million in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes, of which approximately 90 percent have type 2.  

Vegetarian diets help type 2 diabetics lose weight and may prevent heart disease (stock)

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For decades the disease has been considered to be two different forms – type one, an autoimmune disease in which people stop producing insulin, and type two, in which the body becomes resistant to insulin.

But now a major project in Sweden and Finland has found type two diabetes should actually be categorised as four different diseases.

The researchers, led by experts at Lund University, said the findings should prompt a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way people treat diabetes.

Cluster 1. Severe Autoimmune Diabetes – which until now has been known as ‘type one’ diabetes – is an autoimmune disease in which people stop producing insulin. Usually strikes in childhood but can emerge in adults. Requires insulin injections for life.

Cluster 2. Severe Insulin-Deficient Diabetes – young people often misdiagnosed as having type one, but whose immune systems are fine. Actually a variant of type two diabetes, but often of a healthy weight. High blood sugar, low insulin production and moderate insulin resistance.

Cluster 3. Severe Insulin-Resistant Diabetes – is predominantly linked to obesity and severe insulin resistance.

Cluster 4. Mild Obesity-Related Diabetes – includes obese patients, but is less serious and includes people who fall ill at a relatively young age.

Cluster 5. Mild Age-Related Diabetes is the largest group, with 40 per cent of all patients, and consists mostly of elderly patients.

How the research was carried out 

The researchers analysed nine studies investigating the impact of vegetarian diets in type 2 diabetics.

A total of 664 people were included in the study review.  

The findings were published in the journal Clinical Nutrition. 

Vitamin D prevents diabetes  

This comes after research released last April suggested high vitamin D levels significantly reduce people’s risk of diabetes.

Lead author Dr Sue Park, from Seoul National University, said: ‘We found that participants with blood levels of [vitamin D] that were above 30 ng/ml had one-third of the risk of diabetes and those with levels above 50 ng/ml had one-fifth of the risk of developing diabetes.’

The researchers argue their findings suggest adults should have at least 30ng of vitamin D per millimetre of blood, which is 10ng/ml higher than the level recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

Some 77 percent of adults in the US are deficient in vitamin D, which is double the rate of 1980.

Previous research suggests vitamin D strengths people’s immune systems. 

The researchers analysed 903 healthy adults with an average age of 74 between 1997 and 1999.

The participants were followed until 2009.

Their vitamin D and glucose levels were measured during regular visits.  

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