Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet Linked to Significant Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes Risk, Study Reveals

by Ella

A recent study conducted by scientists at Queen’s University Belfast suggests that embracing a healthy plant-based diet could prevent numerous cases of type 2 diabetes. The research, spanning 12 years and observing over 113,000 individuals, concludes that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains significantly lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to a plant-based diet high in snacks, desserts, refined grains, and sugary drinks.

The findings indicate that a diet emphasizing higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 24 percent. This reduction holds true even for individuals genetically predisposed to the disease or those with additional risk factors such as obesity, as per the researchers at Queen’s University.


Co-lead author of the study, Prof Aedín Cassidy from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s, highlighted the groundbreaking aspect of the research, stating, “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 2 diabetes.”


The study posits that healthy plant-based diets may act as a protective shield against type 2 diabetes through multiple avenues, including lower body fatness, normal blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, as well as enhanced kidney and liver function.


Co-lead author Prof Tilman Kuhn, Chair in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Vienna, emphasized the significance of the study, stating, “This is one of the first studies to try and identify how a healthful plant-based diet might reduce the risk.” He added, “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 2 diabetes risk among individuals following unhealthful plant-based diets.”


Published in the Diabetes & Metabolism journal, the study sheds light on the potential preventive benefits of a plant-based diet in the context of a global rise in diabetes prevalence. Currently, diabetes affects 6 percent of the global population and is projected to increase to 10 percent by 2050, with type 2 diabetes constituting about 95 percent of cases.

In Ireland, where 10 percent of adults aged over 50 have type 2 diabetes, rising to 16 percent in those aged over 80, the study’s findings could have significant implications for public health initiatives aimed at diabetes prevention and management.



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