Scientists from Peking University recently found that eating a plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In the study, researchers wanted to find out if following a plant-based diet could reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (T2D) among people living in Shanxi Province, China.
They recruited over 50,000 people aged between 35 and 75 years old between 2017 and 2019 to take part in the study.
The researchers divided the participants into two groups based on their level of cardiovascular risk: those with a high risk of heart disease and those without heart disease.
To calculate each participant’s plant-based diet index (PDI) score, the participants were asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire.
This questionnaire asked them about their eating habits, including how often they ate fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Over time, the researchers followed up with the participants to see if they developed T2D.
They defined T2D as having high blood sugar (7 mmol/L or more) or taking medication for hypoglycemia.
The researchers found that those with higher PDI scores had a lower risk of T2D compared to those with lower scores. This was true for both the heart disease and non-heart disease groups.
The researchers also found that the association between PDI and T2D risk was stronger in certain subgroups of participants.
For example, the negative associations between PDI and T2D risk were stronger in the total population of older adults (age > 60 years), those with a lower BMI (< 24), and men.
The team also found that the association was stronger in the non-heart-disease group for men with a BMI between 24 and 28. In the heart disease group, the association was stronger for the elderly and those with a lower BMI (< 24).
Interestingly, the researchers found an L-shaped association between PDI and T2D risk in the heart disease group. This means that there may be a certain threshold level of PDI that is needed to see a benefit in this group.
In summary, the study showed that following a plant-based diet could help reduce the risk of developing T2D among people living in Shanxi Province, China.
They also found that certain subgroups of participants may benefit more from following a plant-based diet than others. However, the team cautions that more studies are needed to confirm these findings.
The research was published in Nutrients and conducted by Ying Zhang et al.
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