The effects of a plant-based diet on diabetes mellitus
Descovich O'Hare, Caitlin Marie
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Diabetes is a global epidemic that has unfortunately been significantly increasing in number of cases annually. It is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States and leads to many further complications including cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, retinopathy, and kidney failure. With the increase in Western dietary patterns there has been a subsequent rise in both obesity and diabetes. In fact, type 2 diabetes makes up 90% of diabetes cases and is, in most cases, preventable with lifestyle changes and weight loss. The aim of this review is to look at the option of a plant-based diet as a means of prevention and treatment for type 2 diabetes. In order to understand type 2 diabetes the basics of pathophysiology, risk factors, statistic, complications and current treatments is discussed. Based on an analysis of a low-fat, plant-based diet compared to current conventional type 2 diabetes treatments there is evidence that a vegan diet increases insulin sensitivity, decreases body weight, lowers cardiovascular risk factors, and decreases need for oral antidiabetic treatments. A review of the efficacy of a plant-based diet for treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes is also discussed in-depth. Further studies may be helpful to validate adopting a low-fat, plant-based diet in treatment of type 2 diabetes. Overall, it is important for physicians to address the individual needs of their patients and allow for the option of lifestyle changes with adequate guidance and support.