The Medical University of Vienna’s Center for Public Health has discovered some promising findings. Their research shows that a healthy plant-based diet leads to improvements in metabolism, and liver and kidney function. Dr Tilman Kühn, Professor of Public Health Nutrition at Medical University Vienna and the University of Vienna, led the study and found that a healthful plant-based diet reduces the risk of diabetes by 24%, even in the presence of genetic predisposition and other diabetes risk factors such as obesity, advanced age and lack of physical activity.
What did the study involve?
Published in the Diabetes & Metabolism journal, the research included 113,097 participants, aged 40 to 69 years, in a large-scale British cohort study (UK Biobank) over a period of twelve years. The study used a variety of models to analyze the associations between healthful and unhealthful plant-based diets and the risk of type two diabetes. The study concluded that a healthful plant-based diet could help prevent against type two diabetes by improving levels of body fat and blood glucose, and reducing inflammation.
“We were surprised that several factors other than body fatness alone explained associations between a healthy diet and lower diabetes risk. While obesity is still the most important risk factor for diabetes, we found it interesting that better kidney function, for example, may mediate beneficial dietary effects,” Dr Kühn told FoodNavigator.
What is type two diabetes?
Formally called ‘non-insulin dependent’, type two diabetes affects how the body uses sugar (glucose) for energy and prevents it from using insulin properly. Over 33 million people in the EU suffer from diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) data, the absolute number of diabetics in the EU will rise from approximately 33 million in 2010 to 38 million in 2030.
What you eat matters
The positive results were based on the consumption of a healthy plant-based diet, which incorporated plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds. Conversely, there is an increased risk of developing type two diabetes when an unhealthy plant-based diet is consumed.