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Following a vegan diet for three months has been found to offer significant health benefits to both obese and diabetic people. A study conducted by the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen found that participants lost ‘meaningful’ amounts of weight and saw their blood sugar lowered.
Study findings were presented at the European Congress on Obesity with the Danish research team explicit in their conclusion that vegan diets are beneficial for certain individuals. 796 individuals, each clinically overweight or diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, were assessed across 11 trials. A vegan diet, followed for a minimum of 12 weeks, was compared to other eating plans. Factors including body weight, BMI, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol were analysed.
The case for vegan diets to improve health
Research participants following a vegan diet were compared against passive and active groups. The latter was given a specific diet plan to follow, including Mediterranean or calorie counting. Data showed that the vegan group demonstrated significantly more weight loss, with each member losing on average 16 pounds. All members of the vegan group saw their BMI drop as well. Weight loss was not the only benefit, however.
Comparing vegan diet followers to those who made no dietary changes at all, blood sugar levels were identified as changing.
“This rigorous assessment of the best available evidence to date indicates with reasonable certainty that adhering to a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improve blood sugar levels,” Anne-Ditte Termannsen, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “And therefore can be used in the management of overweight and Type 2 diabetes.
“Vegan diets likely lead to weight loss because they are associated with a reduced-calorie intake due to a lower content of fat and higher content of dietary fiber. However, more evidence is needed regarding other cardiometabolic outcomes.”
The study did not specify particular vegan foods to be eaten, only that all meals were animal-free. Despite a lack of enforced whole foods, weight loss was achieved by all.
A vegan diet as a cure-all solution?
Diabetes and obesity are not the only conditions thought to be improved by a vegan diet. Nor is this the first study to look at these specific health concerns. Last year it was reported that a study proved the Mediterranean diet was less effective in generating weight loss and cholesterol control than a vegan diet.
The need to find ways to tackle diabetes particularly is evident. In 2021, approximately 10.5 percent of the global population suffered from the condition. This number is predicted to rise to more than 12 percent by 2045, putting extra strain on already struggling healthcare systems. Obesity is similarly concerning. 650 million individuals were thought to be obese in 2016. The condition kills millions of people every year, particularly in wealthy countries that could afford and have been told to move to plant-based eating habits.
Looking outside of obesity and diabetes, connections to reduced reliance on medication and alleviated arthritis symptoms have been made to vegan foods. A study, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine last year, concluded that seniors who follow a vegan diet take 58 percent fewer regular medications than those who don’t. Lower blood pressure and better weight control were noted alongside.
More recently, a research project published its findings in April, stating that vegan diets can help reduce the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The study claimed that in 44 adult sufferers assessed, pain was reduced by up to 53 percent. Joint swelling was significantly improved, which supports athletic studies that claim a plant-based diet can aid faster recovery from injury due to reduced inflammation. These claims were looked at in-depth in the documentary The Game Changers.
Perhaps more surprisingly, vegan diets have just been widely recommended as the best and healthiest options for canine companions. In a far-reaching study commissioned by ProVeg, it was discovered that those animals being given access to vegan diets were, on average, healthier, exposed to less food-related risk and less likely to need a vet appointment.
Lead Photo by Jannis Brandt at Unsplash.