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Research Shows Plant-Based Diet Significantly Reduces the Risk of Developing Type Two Diabetes

Research led by Queen’s University Belfast has found that a substantial number of type two diabetes cases could be avoided through adopting a healthy plant-based diet. The study, published in Diabetes & Metabolism, a high-quality plant-based diet, characterised by a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, can significantly reduce the risk of developing type two diabetes compared to a plant-based diet high in snacks, desserts, refined grains and sugary beverages.

The research observed 113,097 participants over a 12-year period. It found that a diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as wholegrains, can reduce the risk of diabetes by 24%, even for those genetically predisposed to diabetes and those with other risk factors such as obesity.

Co-lead author, Professor Aedín Cassidy, from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s, said: “For the first time we have shown that improvements in both metabolism and the function of the liver and the kidney as a result of a healthy plant-based diet, may explain how this diet can reduce the risk of type two diabetes.”

Professor Tilman Kuhn, co-lead author from Queen’s University from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s and Chair in Public Health Nutrition at University of Vienna, said: “This is one of the first studies to try and identify how a healthful plant-based diet might reduce the risk. Our results suggest that such a diet exerts anti-diabetic effects via a range of mechanisms including blood sugar and lipid levels and lower body fatness. In contrast, obesity is a key mediator underlying greater type two diabetes risk among individuals following unhealthful plant-based diets.”

Queen’s University PhD candidate and first author of the story, Alysha Thompson, added: “These data are really important, particularly for those thought to be at high risk of developing type two diabetes as it demonstrates they can greatly reduce their risk by following a healthy plant-based diet.”


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