In the WHO EU region in 2014, it was estimated that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is around 8%. Incidence of diabetes is increasing and is associated with an increased risk of heart conditions, renal failure or other chronic diseases.
Plant-based eating is associated with a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes: eg. in the Seventh-day Adventist study (population of 60,903 subjects) it has been shown that as the intake of plant-based products increases the prevalence of diabetes decreases.
Figure extracted from book “The Plant-based Plan“
A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the effect of the replacement of animal protein with plant protein on glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.
The meta-analysis included 13 randomized controlled trials (in total 280 diabetes patients). The replacement of animal protein sources (e.g., meat, dairy, etc.) with major sources of plant protein (e.g., legumes, nuts, etc.) lasted on average 8 weeks.
Diets emphasizing a replacement of animal with plant protein at a median level of ~35% of total protein per day significantly lowered
- * HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin)
- * fasting glucose levels
- * fasting insulin levels
This indicates that replacing sources of animal with plant protein leads to modest improvements in glycemic control in individuals with diabetes: less glucose in blood results in less insulin needed and less glucose available to bind to heamoglobin.
Important to mention is that the majority of the studies used soy and soy-based products to replace sources of animal protein.
The glycemic benefits observed in this meta-analysis are in addition to the use of oral glucose-lowering agents by the majority of individuals.
Therefore, replacing animal protein with major sources of plant protein may be one strategy that can be combined with standard therapy to help improve and manage glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.
Reference: Viguiliouk E et al. Effect of Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients 2015;7:9804-24.