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Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in Diabetes mellitus | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated the effects of a low-fat vegan (plant-based) diet on pancreas function in overweight, non-diabetic adults. This study concluded that both pancreas function and insulin sensitivity significantly improved in these adults through a low-fat vegan diet.

Some background

Poor function of beta-cells in the pancreas (insulin-releasing cells) is a key factor in developing type 2 diabetes. Improving beta-cell function is not a typical goal of diabetes treatment. However, preliminary research has suggested that diet and physical activity can affect beta-cell function.

Lifestyle interventions such as changes in diet or exercise can improve insulin sensitivity (response of body cells to insulin). These changes help keep beta-cells healthy. Reducing body fat also helps beta-cells function better.

Individuals who follow vegan (plant-based) diets have a 46 – 74% lower rate of diabetes compared to the general population. Vegan diets have also been shown to improve glycemic control (ability to keep insulin levels in check) in type 2 diabetes. Whether this diet can improve beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity remains under investigation.

Methods & findings

This study involved 75 overweight, non-diabetic adults. 38 were put on a low-fat vegan diet (intervention group). 37 had no dietary changes (control group). 96% of participants completed the study. Participants were followed for 16 weeks. Outcomes were measured at the beginning (baseline) and at the end of the study.

BMI (body mass index, a measure of body fat that takes height and weight into account) decreased by 1.9 kg/m2 in the intervention group and by 0.2 kg/m2 in the control group. The intervention group lost more than twice as much lean mass (-2.3 kilograms) and fat mass (-3.9 kg) compared to the control group (lean mass, -1.0 kilograms; fat mass, +0.4 kg). These changes were statistically significant in the intervention group. Only lean mass loss was significant in the control group.

Fasting glucose levels (blood glucose after a period without food or drink) decreased in the intervention group (-0.2) and increased in the control group (+0.1 units). Fasting levels of insulin decreased in the intervention group (-20.2 units) and increased in the control group (+16 units). Insulin secretion also decreased in the intervention group (-28.8 units) and increased in the control group (+3.6 units). 

The bottom line

This study concluded that both pancreas function and insulin sensitivity significantly improved in overweight, non-diabetic adults through a low-fat vegan diet.

The fine print

The participants in this study did not have a history of diabetes. However, the participants did show improvements in certain metabolic factors that may be relevant for individuals with diabetes. 

Lastly, this study was designed to investigate the effects of the low-fat vegan diet overall, rather than specific aspects of the diet such as elimination of animal products.

What’s next?

If you have type 2 diabetes, always discuss any dietary changes with your doctor.

Published By :


Date :

Feb 09, 2018

Original Title :

A Plant-Based Dietary Intervention Improves Beta-Cell Function and Insulin Resistance in Overweight Adults: A 16-Week Randomized Clinical Trial.

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