How This Helps
We are lucky that the benefits of plantbased diet are becoming popular these days and the method is proving to be extremely effective in fighting against chronic conditions like diabetes.
Science and Research
Diabetes has turned out to be a common disease these days. 9.3% (this figure estimates about 29.1 million people) of the U.S population are affected by this condition each year and this number is 1.4 million of the country’s population are being affected by the disease. Even if you are not affected by this disease, you must know someone who has diabetes. This condition has extensive effects and leads to tuations like hypertension, cardiac diseases, blindness, kidney disorder and even amputation of limbs (1).
Several doctors opine that plantbased foods in the form of pills would prove to be the miraculous and popular cure. The pharmaceutical companies are sure to earn huge profits from such products. Just think about the vast extent of benefits that can be achieved through this form of diet. Right from losing excess weight, controlling blood sugar levels and keeping your skin clean to have a long healthy life and that too without any adverse effects. Don’t all these sound absolutely perfect?
There are numerous research results to speak in favor of plant based diet. For instance, the most recent study has revealed a metaanalysis; i.e. the research that has been picked up from several research articles to find out if there are any identifiable pattern. This metaanalysis has been successful in short listing 13 such research articles which go in line with the basic requirement. Through some difficult analysis, it has been found that blood sugar controlling abilities in diabetes patients have shown great improvement when meat in the diet was
replaced with plant proteins; i.e. by consuming foods like legumes, soy, and nuts (2). The clinical parameters were measured for haemoglobin (A1C values); i.e. the average blood sugar of 2 to 3 months, insulin levels, and fasting glucose levels. To get the desired ‘moderate’ standard of benefits (as determined by the researchers) the participants of this study were made to replace just 35% of their protein consumption with plant proteins. So, it can be well imagined how beneficial the effects will be when 50% of the protein intake can be replaced in this method, or even better if entire protein intake can be altered.
The outcome of the mentioned research goes hand in hand with some other studies, like the Adventist Health Study; i.e. the method in which the vegetarian or vegan type of diets are associated with reduced risk of diabetes and overall causes of human mortality (3,4). A research study was done with 92,000 women and 40,000 men, where one serving in their diet was replaced with plant proteins and the result reflected 10 to 21% reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes (5). The other side of the coin shows that diets rich in animal protein (red meat in most cases) result in an increase in the occurrence of diabetes (5,6).
Now, the question is, why these things happen? Basically, the fat that comes with animal protein interferes with the function of insulin and creates the situation where no sugar can enter the cells. Animal protein is not the only target in this report and some other determining factors are given equal importance along with animal protein. It is also noticed that high amounts of stored iron in the body are also responsible for diabetes. The iron that we get from animal proteins (the hemeiron) can be easily absorbed by our body and is not always good for health. Iron can also act as prooxidant (just the opposite of antioxidant) and cause damage to our tissues. In the case of people suffering from diabetes, the excess amounts of hemeiron can damage the cells in the pancreas and thus affect the production of insulin (8,9).
On the other hand, the iron which we get from plants is safe as they cannot be absorbed easily by our body and thus our body is not at risk of overloading with iron. It is also noticed that the amino acid profile in plant proteins actually function as protectors of our body. The level
of nitrites and sodium in animal protein (specifically in meat) are seriously harmful (2).
The bottomline is if you aim at lowering your blood sugar levels and want to keep yourself safe from problems related to blood sugar (or even conditions related to cholesterol, inflammation and overweight), switching to plant proteins will help you a lot. Just switch to a
bean burger instead of ham or chicken. You can top your pizza with tofu and feta cheese and have the mouthwatering side dishes as the walnutspinachapple salad. You can learn more about such tasty and healthy plant protein and understand benefits of plant based diet and options by talking to your dietician.