One in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes later in life unless there are significant changes in lifestyle. It's Diabetes Awareness Month, and as a nurse practitioner, I suggest looking past the ads for diabetes medications to new research that shows our diets hold the answer.
People who consume more protein from meat and other animal products are at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study in Diabetes Care. Researchers analyzed the diets of nearly 40,000 participants and found that for every 5 percent of calories consumed from protein instead of carbohydrate or fat, the risk of developing diabetes increased 30 percent. Increased animal protein intake also coincided with increased weight and blood pressure. Vegetable protein was not associated with diabetes risk.
Meat-heavy diets are contributing to the diabetes epidemic, but plant-based diets could help fight it. Recent studies find that a low-fat vegan diet is as effective as oral medications at lowering blood sugar. Changes in diet or medication should be made in consultation with a health care professional. For useful resources, go to www.PCRM.org/Diabetes.
Director of diabetes education and care for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
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