A low-fat vegan diet treats type 2 diabetes more effectively than a standard diabetes diet and may be more effective than single-agent therapy with oral diabetes drugs, according to a study in the August issue of Diabetes Care, a journal published by the American Diabetes Association.
Study participants on the low-fat vegan diet showed dramatic improvement in four disease markers: blood sugar control, cholesterol reduction, weight control, and kidney function. The randomized controlled trial was conducted by doctors and dieticians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the George Washington University, and the University of Toronto with funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation.
The vegan diet represents a major departure from current diabetes diets, in that it placed no limits on calories, carbohydrates, or portions. "The diet appears remarkably effective, and all the side effects are good ones--especially weight loss and lower cholesterol," says lead researcher Neal D. Barnard, M.D., PCRM president and adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University. "I hope this study will rekindle interest in using diet changes first, rather than prescription drugs."
Diabetes rates have climbed rapidly in recent years, and more than 20 million Americans now have the disease, which is linked to kidney failure, blindness, and cardiovascular disease.