Healthy plant-based diets may prevent type 2 diabetes

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Scientists from Kyung Hee University and elsewhere found eating healthy plant-based diets may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Your body breaks down most of the food you eat into sugar (glucose) and releases it into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin.

Insulin acts as a key to letting the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2.

It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults).

Plant-based diets have been suggested to be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

However, evidence about the association between the healthiness of a plant-based diet and type 2 diabetes risk is limited.

In the current study, researchers explored the association between three different plant-based diet indices and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

They also examined whether associations differ by demographic and lifestyle factors in the Korean population.

The team used data from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study (KoGES), a prospective cohort study initiated between 2001 and 2002.

Dietary intakes were assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire.

Scores for three plant-based diet indices (overall plant-based diet index, healthful plant-based diet index, and unhealthful plant-based diet index) were measured.

The team analyzed data from a total of 7363 Korean adults aged 40-69 years without type 2 diabetes and related chronic diseases at baseline.

During a follow-up period of 14 years, 977 participants developed type 2 diabetes.

The team found a 10-point higher score in the healthful plant-based diet index was linked to a 14% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

These inverse associations between the healthful plant-based diet index and type 2 diabetes risk were stronger in participants with a family history of type 2 diabetes or history of hypertension than those without a family history of type 2 diabetes or history of high blood pressure.

Based on the findings, the team suggests that the quality of plant foods may be important for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in the Korean population because their daily diets are rich in plant foods.

The research was published in Nutrients and conducted by Jihye Kim and Edward Giovannucci.

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