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Can a vegan diet reverse type 2 diabetes?

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James

Type 2 diabetes was widely misrepresented as a progressive and incurable disease that could only be managed with modern medical interventions. This has been accepted as inaccurate and it is now recognised that most patients can reverse type 2 diabetes through diet and lifestyle.1Hallberg, S.J., Gershuni, V.M., Hazbun, T.L. and Athinarayanan, S.J. (2019). Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: A Narrative Review of the Evidence. Nutrients, [online] 11(4), p.766. doi:10.3390/nu11040766.

Multiple interventions have proven successful in reversing type 2 diabetes; including bariatric surgery, carbohydrate restriction and very low-calorie diets. But can a vegan diet reverse type 2 diabetes?

This article discusses the discusses the possibility of using a vegan diet to reverse type 2 diabetes, explains the mechanisms by which it works and gives some guidance about the food groups you may include to treat and prevent insulin resistance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Type 2 diabetes is a disease that causes blood sugar dysregulation due to impaired beta-cell function in the pancreas and insulin resistance in the cells.
  • The biggest risk factors for diabetes are obesity, lack of physical exercise and overconsumption of refined carbohydrates.
  • Weight loss is the most effective way to reverse type 2 diabetes.
  • A vegan diet can reverse type 2 diabetes due to its positive impact on weight loss and gut microbiome composition.
  • It can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 year (or more) to reverse type 2 diabetes.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to regulate and utilise glucose (sugar). This dysregulation causes abnormally high sugar circulating in the bloodstream which can cause disorders in the circulatory, immune and nervous systems if left untreated.

The body produces a hormone called insulin when you eat carbohydrate (sugar) containing foods. Insulin is tasked with removing sugar from the bloodstream and shuttling it into the cells for storage.

Type 2 diabetes is often known as ‘insulin resistant’ diabetes because the patient’s cells have become resistant to the effects of insulin and take in less sugar. The body reacts by producing excessive amounts of insulin from the pancreas in an attempt to force sugar into the cells, but this overworks the pancreas and leads to it’s insulin producing beta cells getting ‘burned out’ and unable to produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is preventable, treatable and reversible in many cases. Next I will explain the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes

What causes type 2 diabetes?

The biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity2Wu, Y., Ding, Y., Tanaka, Y. and Zhang, W. (2014) ‘Risk Factors Contributing to Type 2 Diabetes and Recent Advances in the Treatment and Prevention’, International Journal of Medical Sciences, vol. 11, no. 11, pp. 1185–1200 [Online]. DOI: 10.7150/ijms.10001.with current data showing that 90% of sufferers are overweight or obese3Adult obesity and type 2 diabetes. The accumulation of excess fat tissue, especially belly fat, causes an increase in plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) that are strongly associated with insulin resistance4Algoblan, A., Alalfi, M. and Khan, M. (2014) ‘Mechanism linking diabetes mellitus and obesity’, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, vol. 7, no. 587–591, p. 587 [Online]. DOI: 10.2147/dmso.s67400.. Inflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are also thought to be a product of obesity that increase type 2 diabetes risk5Galicia-Garcia, U., Benito-Vicente, A., Jebari, S., Larrea-Sebal, A., Siddiqi, H., Uribe, K. B., Ostolaza, H. and Martín, C. (2020) ‘Pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus’, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 21, no. 17 [Online]. DOI: 10.3390/ijms21176275..

Lack of physical activity is also thought to be a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle has been shown to increase markers of chronic low-grade systemic inflammation6Pradhan, A. D. (2001) ‘C-Reactive Protein, Interleukin 6, and Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus’, JAMA, vol. 286, no. 3, p. 327 [Online]. DOI: 10.1001/jama.286.3.327.that may lead to the development of insulin resistance. Physical exercise is also a potent way to improve body composition and may aid in weight loss that can reduce the risk of obesity induced diabetes.

Data also suggests that eating too much sugar can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. It’s thought that excess refined sugar in the form of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup can overwhelm the liver and cause the accumulation of visceral and ectopic fat7Malik, V. S. and Hu, F. B. (2015) ‘Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health’, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, vol. 66, no. 14, pp. 1615–1624 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.025. as well as localised insulin resistance8Stanhope, K. L., Schwarz, J. M., Keim, N. L., Griffen, S. C., Bremer, A. A., Graham, J. L., Hatcher, B., Cox, C. L., Dyachenko, A., Zhang, W., McGahan, J. P., Seibert, A., Krauss, R. M., Chiu, S., Schaefer, E. J., Ai, M., Otokozawa, S., Nakajima, K., Nakano, T. and Beysen, C. (2009) ‘Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans’, Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 119, no. 5, pp. 1322–1334 [Online]. DOI: 10.1172/jci37385.. The ‘empty calories’ coupled with people’s tendency to overconsume sugar-sweetened food/beverages can also lead to increased risk of obesity.

Other factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes include: Gut dysbiosis (leaky gut), genetics, gestational diabetes, ethnicity and metabolic memory (previously had blood sugar issues).

Obesity diabetes

How can type 2 diabetes be reversed?

Losing weight is the best way to reverse type 2 diabetes. Excess fat build up in the liver and pancreas causes reduced insulin response and beta-cell stress that combine to create metabolic dysfunction9Taylor, R., Al-Mrabeh, A. and Sattar, N. (2019) ‘Understanding the mechanisms of reversal of type 2 diabetes’, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, vol. 7, no. 9, pp. 726–736 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/s2213-8587(19)30076-2.. Weight loss is able to restore insulin response in the liver and restore beta-cell function in the pancreas causing diabetes remission.

This is backed up by the results of a randomised controlled trial by Lean et al. (2018) showing that 46% of patients were able to reverse type 2 diabetes by following a calorie controlled diet for 3-5 months10Lean, M. E., Leslie, W. S., Barnes, A. C., Brosnahan, N., Thom, G., McCombie, L., Peters, C., Zhyzhneuskaya, S., Al-Mrabeh, A., Hollingsworth, K. G., Rodrigues, A. M., Rehackova, L., Adamson, A. J., Sniehotta, F. F., Mathers, J. C., Ross, H. M., McIlvenna, Y., Stefanetti, R., Trenell, M. and Welsh, P. (2018) ‘Primary care-led Weight Management for Remission of Type 2 Diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised Trial’, The Lancet, vol. 391, no. 10120, pp. 541–551 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/s0140-6736(17)33102-1.. Diabetes reversal was strongly correlated with the amount of weight lost by the participants. 86% of the study participants who lost 15kg or more were able to put diabetes into remission.

Low-carb diets have also shown promise in the reversal of type 2 diabetes. The restriction of carbohydrates has a stabilising effect on blood sugar levels and reduces burden on the pancreas which potentially allows restoration of beta-cell function11Skytte, M. J., Samkani, A., Astrup, A., Frystyk, J., Rehfeld, J. F., Holst, J. J., Madsbad, S., Burling, K., Fenger, M., Thomsen, M. N., Larsen, T. M., Krarup, T. and Haugaard, S. B. (2021) ‘Effects of carbohydrate restriction on postprandial glucose metabolism, β-cell function, gut hormone secretion, and satiety in patients with Type 2 diabetes’, American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 320, no. 1, pp. E7–E18 [Online]. DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00165.2020 (Accessed 11 September 2021).. It’s worth noting that restriction of carbohydrates often has the knock-on effect of calorie reduction and weight loss that is also beneficial for reducing insulin resistance.

Bariatric surgery also has significant efficacy in reversing type 2 diabetes. A systematic review by Buchwald et al. (2009) showed that 78% of patients saw complete resolution of blood sugar issues post-surgery12Buchwald, H., Estok, R., Fahrbach, K., Banel, D., Jensen, M. D., Pories, W. J., Bantle, J. P. and Sledge, I. (2009) ‘Weight and Type 2 Diabetes after Bariatric Surgery: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis’, The American Journal of Medicine, vol. 122, no. 3, pp. 248-256.e5 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.09.041.. The patients who lost the most weight saw the greatest benefit.

Weight loss diabetes

Can a vegan diet reverse type 2 diabetes?

A vegan diet can reverse type 2 diabetes. Studies dating back to 2009 by Bernard et al. show that a vegan diet can have a significant effect on reducing markers of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients13Barnard, N. D., Cohen, J., Jenkins, D. J. A., Turner-McGrievy, G., Gloede, L., Green, A. and Ferdowsian, H. (2009) ‘A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial’, The American journal of clinical nutrition, American Society for Nutrition, vol. 89, no. 5, pp. 1588S1596S [Online]. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736H.. They also found that a vegan diet had a greater effect on weight reduction than a conventional diabetes diet.

A more recent randomised clinical trial performed by Kahleova et al. (2020) compared the effects of a vegan diet with a standard western diet14Kahleova, H., Petersen, K. F., Shulman, G. I., Alwarith, J., Rembert, E., Tura, A., Hill, M., Holubkov, R. and Barnard, N. D. (2020) ‘Effect of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet on Body Weight, Insulin Sensitivity, Postprandial Metabolism, and Intramyocellular and Hepatocellular Lipid Levels in Overweight Adults’, JAMA Network Open, vol. 3, no. 11, p. e2025454 [Online]. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25454.. The vegan diet group lost 5.9kg during the 16 week intervention without being told to restrict calories or portion size. The authors concluded that weight loss was due to naturally reduced calorie intake and increased post-meal metabolic rate.

The mechanisms behind which a vegan diet can reverse type 2 diabetes are multifactorial. The primary reason is the positive impact plant-based diets can have on weight loss. Most unprocessed vegan foods are inherently low in calories and high in fibre that contributes to satiety and downstream weight loss. Plant-based foods are undoubtably good for diabetics.

One study by Anderson, Ward (1979) switched 20 type 2 diabetic study participants onto a weight-maintaining high fibre vegan diet and discovered they were able almost eliminate the need for medication in just 2 weeks15Anderson, J. W. and Ward, K. (1979) ‘High-carbohydrate, high-fiber diets for insulin-treated men with diabetes mellitus’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 32, no. 11, pp. 2312–2321 [Online]. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/32.11.2312.. This suggests that a vegan diet may have positive effects on insulin resistance that stretches beyond weight loss.

Changes in the gut microbiota may be one reason vegan diets can reverse type 2 diabetes independent of calories consumed. An interventional study by Kim et al. (2013) found that a 4 week vegan diet decreased Firmicute bacteria and decreased Bacteroidetes bacteria inside the gut16Kim, M.-S., Hwang, S.-S., Park, E.-J. and Bae, J.-W. (2013) ‘Strict vegetarian diet improves the risk factors associated with metabolic diseases by modulating gut microbiota and reducing intestinal inflammation’, Environmental Microbiology Reports, p. n/a-n/a [Online]. DOI: 10.1111/1758-2229.12079.. This change in composition is associated with a reduction in calorie absorption and resulting positive changes in body weight that may reverse insulin resistance.

Vegan diabetes diet

How long does it take for a vegan diet to reverse diabetes?

Reversing type 2 diabetes with a vegan diet can take anywhere from 1 week to multiple years depending on how advanced your diabetes is when treatment starts.

One study by Bistrian et al. (1976) has shown that just 19 days on a reduced calorie diet was enough to eliminate the need for medication in many patients17Bistrian, B. R., Blackburn, G. L., Flatt, J.-P. ., Sizer, J., Scrimshaw, N. S. and Sherman, M. (1976) ‘Nitrogen Metabolism and Insulin Requirements in Obese Diabetic Adults on a Protein-Sparing Modified Fast’, Diabetes, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 494–504 [Online]. DOI: 10.2337/diab.25.6.494 (Accessed 19 January 2021).. This is backed up by Lim et al. (2011) who showed a reduction of insulin resistance markers in the liver and pancreas was possible after just 1 week of a 600kcal/day diet18Lim, E. L., Hollingsworth, K. G., Aribisala, B. S., Chen, M. J., Mathers, J. C. and Taylor, R. (2011) ‘Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol’, Diabetologia, Springer-Verlag, vol. 54, no. 10, pp. 2506–14 [Online]. DOI: 10.1007/s00125-011-2204-7.. Total normalisation occurred after 8 weeks.

Data specifically around plant-based diets has shown that following a vegan dietary intervention called the ‘NFI Diet’ is able to reverse type 2 diabetes in 84% of patients after 20-weeks19Medical News: Plant-Based Diet Reverses Type 2 Diabetes in 84% of Patients, New Study Finds. The majority of participants saw a significant decrease in bodyweight during the study and most were able to come off medication.

One cluster-randomised trial by Lean et al. (2017) showed remission in 46% of patients following 1 year support and weight management program that included a low-calorie diet20Lean, M. E., Leslie, W. S., Barnes, A. C., Brosnahan, N., Thom, G., McCombie, L., Peters, C., Zhyzhneuskaya, S., Al-Mrabeh, A., Hollingsworth, K. G., Rodrigues, A. M., Rehackova, L., Adamson, A. J., Sniehotta, F. F., Mathers, J. C., Ross, H. M., McIlvenna, Y., Stefanetti, R., Trenell, M. and Welsh, P. (2018b) ‘Primary care-led Weight Management for Remission of Type 2 Diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised Trial’, The Lancet, vol. 391, no. 10120, pp. 541–551 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/s0140-6736(17)33102-1.. Weight loss was strongly associated with diabetes reversal as seen in other studies.

Vegan diet reverses diabetes

Why is a vegan diet able to reverse type 2 diabetes?

Weight loss

Plant-based diets are consistently associated with weight loss and maintenance of a healthy bodyweight. Studies consistently show that vegans have lower rates of obesity than all other dietary patterns21Spencer, E. A., Appleby, P. N., Davey, G. K. and Key, T. J. (2003) ‘Diet and body mass index in 38 000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans’, International Journal of Obesity, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 728–734 [Online]. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802300. and people are able to lose significant amounts of weight on a vegan diet22Huang, R.-Y., Huang, C.-C., Hu, F. B. and Chavarro, J. E. (2016) ‘Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials’, Journal of general internal medicine, Springer US, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 109–16 [Online]. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-015-3390-7..

Whole, unprocessed plant-based foods are low in calories but very satiating. Fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and whole starches contain fibre that packs out your stomach making you feel full despite eating very few calories. This often leads to weight loss.

Fibre

Unprocessed plant-based foods inherently high in fibre. Studies by Davies et al. (1985) show that vegans eat more fibre than any other dietary group23Davies, G. J., Crowder, M. and Dickerson, J. W. (1985) ‘Dietary fibre intakes of individuals with different eating patterns’, Human Nutrition. Applied Nutrition, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 139–148 [Online]. Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2991173/., averaging 46g per day.

Work by Weickert, Pfeiffer (2018) discovered that people eating more than 38g of fibre per day had a 20-30% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes24Weickert, M. O. and Pfeiffer, A. F. (2018) ‘Impact of Dietary Fiber Consumption on Insulin Resistance and the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes’, The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 148, no. 1, pp. 7–12 [Online]. DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxx008.. In the paper they speculated that dietary fibre may reduce the absorption of protein and modulate amino acid metabolic signature.

Microbiome

Vegan diets are associated with greater microbiome diversity. Increased abundance of Bacteroidetes and decreased existence of Firmicutes bacteria is common in plant-based dieters25Tomova, A., Bukovsky, I., Rembert, E., Yonas, W., Alwarith, J., Barnard, N. D. and Kahleova, H. (2019) ‘The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets on Gut Microbiota’, Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 6, no. 47 [Online]. DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00047.. This gut bacteria composition is associated with reduced caloric absorption that may lead to more stable blood glucose and reduced bodyweight.

The fibre-rich nature of a plant-based diet also causes an increase in short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production in the gut. These SCFAs are thought to reduce inflammation, improve weight management and help to attenuate type 2 diabetes26Koh, A., De Vadder, F., Kovatcheva-Datchary, P. and Bäckhed, F. (2016) ‘From Dietary Fiber to Host Physiology: Short-Chain Fatty Acids as Key Bacterial Metabolites’, Cell, vol. 165, no. 6, pp. 1332–1345 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.05.041..

Vegan diabetes food

What vegan foods should I eat to reverse diabetes?

Eating whole, unprocessed plant-based foods can reverse type 2 diabetes. However, eating refined plant carbohydrates (sugar, flour) is associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance27Gross, L. S., Li, L., Ford, E. S. and Liu, S. (2004) ‘Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States: an ecologic assessment’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 79, no. 5, pp. 774–779 [Online]. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/79.5.774..

Whole Grains

Whole-grain consumption is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes28Hu, Y., Ding, M., Sampson, L., Willett, W. C., Manson, J. E., Wang, M., Rosner, B., Hu, F. B. and Sun, Q. (2020) ‘Intake of whole grain foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies’, BMJ, vol. 370 [Online]. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.m2206.. These foods are very high in fibre, high in satiety and low in calories.

Foods such as oatmeal, dark bread, brown rice and whole grain breakfast cereal are all linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes29Fung, T. T., Hu, F. B., Pereira, M. A., Liu, S., Stampfer, M. J., Colditz, G. A. and Willett, W. C. (2002) ‘Whole-grain intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective study in men’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 76, no. 3, pp. 535–540 [Online]. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/76.3.535.. These less-processed grains take longer to digest than refined grains, which aids in satiety and can stabilize blood sugar levels.

Beans, Lentils, Legumes and Pulses

Studies by Jenkins et al. (2012) show that a diet high in legumes can improve blood sugar control and reduce markers of insulin resistance30Jenkins, D. J. A., Kendall, C. W. C., Augustin, L. S. A., Mitchell, S., Sahye-Pudaruth, S., Blanco Mejia, S., Chiavaroli, L., Mirrahimi, A., Ireland, C., Bashyam, B., Vidgen, E., de Souza, R. J., Sievenpiper, J. L., Coveney, J., Leiter, L. A. and Josse, R. G. (2012) ‘Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus’, Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 172, no. 21, p. 1653 [Online]. DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.70 (Accessed 11 December 2019)..

Legumes are incredibly high in fibre and contain a large amount of protein. Many studies show that high protein diets improve satiety and can be used to reverse obesity related disease31Moon, J. and Koh, G. (2020) ‘Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss’, Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 166–173 [Online]. DOI: 10.7570/jomes20028., including type 2 diabetes.

Vegetables

One excellent meta-analysis and systematic review that included 434,342 participants by Li et al. (2014) shows that higher vegetable consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes32Li, M., Fan, Y., Zhang, X., Hou, W. and Tang, Z. (2014) ‘Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies’, BMJ Open, vol. 4, no. 11, p. e005497 [Online]. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005497 (Accessed 18 August 2019).. Green leafy vegetables appear to be particularly effective in reducing type 2 diabetes risk according to another systematic review by Carter et al. (2010)33Carter, P., Gray, L. J., Troughton, J., Khunti, K. and Davies, M. J. (2010) ‘Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis’, BMJ, vol. 341, no. aug18 4, pp. c4229–c4229 [Online]. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.c4229..

Vegetables are very high in fibre, low in calories and can provide satiety that aids in weight loss. A study by Gustafsson et al. (1995) showed that adding spinach to a mixed meal increased satiety and reduced post-meal blood sugar levels34Gustafsson, K., Asp, N.-G., Hagander, B. and Nyman, M. (1995) ‘Satiety effects of spinach in mixed meals: Comparison with other vegetables’, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 327–334 [Online]. DOI: 10.3109/09637489509012564 (Accessed 31 March 2022)..

Fruit

People often believe that fruit is a ‘high-sugar’ food that must be limited in order to avoid insulin resistance. Contrary to this belief, longitudinal cohort studies by Muraki et al. (2013) show that whole fruit consumption is associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk35Muraki, I., Imamura, F., Manson, J. E., Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., van Dam, R. M. and Sun, Q. (2013) ‘Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies’, BMJ (Clinical research ed.), BMJ Publishing Group Ltd., vol. 347, p. f5001 [Online]. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f5001.. It’s worth noting that fruit juice was associated with increased risk of diabetes, likely due to the removal of beneficial fibre and nutrients.

Avoiding fruit has been labelled as a myth by Diabetes UK and a high-carb, low-fat diet containing fruit has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics36Salas-Salvadó, J., Becerra-Tomás, N., Papandreou, C. and Bulló, M. (2019) ‘Dietary Patterns Emphasizing the Consumption of Plant Foods in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A Narrative Review’, Advances in Nutrition, vol. 10, no. Supplement_4, pp. S320–S331 [Online]. DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmy102..

Nuts and seeds

A 2017 review journal by Kim, Keough and Clifton concluded that nuts can favourably influence weight loss and blood sugar control37Kim, Y., Keogh, J. and Clifton, P. (2017) ‘Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Actions’, Nutrients, vol. 9, no. 11, p. 1271 [Online]. DOI: 10.3390/nu9111271. through positive effects on the gut microbiome. The high fibre and healthy fat content of nuts may also play a role in satiety and glucose control.

It’s worth noting that nuts and seeds tend to be very calorie dense and some people find them easy to overconsume which may lead to a stall in weight-loss that prevents type 2 diabetes reversal. Most studies looking at using a vegan diet to reverse insulin resistance have used a low-fat approach that excludes nuts and seeds.

Legumes

Final Thoughts

The vegan diet has the capacity to reverse type 2 diabetes due to its positive effects on weight loss and microbiome diversity. Fibre is a crucial component of plant-based foods that aids in satiety and reduces post-meal blood sugar.

Following a vegan diet for just one week is enough to see a reduction of insulin resistance in many patients. However, results are often seen between 3-6 months and correlate with weight loss. People that lose more weight tend to reverse type 2 diabetes more effectively.

Choosing low-fat, high-fibre plant-based foods tends to provide the benefits seen in studies. Whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables appear to have the most positive effect.

Vegan diets should be recommended as a strategy to reverse type 2 diabetes.

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