Plant-based diets help fight off diabetes
Incorporating more plant-based options into the diet may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), a new China study has found.
Drawing from the Henan Rural Cohort Study, the researchers looked at 37,985 individuals (mean age, 55.67±12.02 years; 23,048 women), whose diets were assessed using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. An overall plant-based diet index (PDI) was then calculated based on the average daily intake of 12 food groups, including vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs, and beans.
Participants were grouped into quartiles of PDI, and those who earned the highest scores saw a 12-percent drop in the odds of developing T2D (Q4 vs Q1: odds ratio [OR], 0.88, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.79–0.98; p=0.027). T2D was defined as fasting glucose ≥7.0 mmol/L, or self-report of having been diagnosed and/or recent use of insulin or other glucose-lowering drugs.
Odds estimates were calculated using logistic regression analysis and adjusted for covariates, such as age and sex, education level, tobacco and alcohol use, total energy intake, and physical activity.
A more plant-based diet remained protective against T2D even when PDI was taken as a continuous variable. Every 1-standard deviation decrease in PDI corresponded to a significant 4-percent lower risk of T2D (ptrend=0.043).
The principal findings were also robust to various subgroup analyses, such that PDI continued to be a significant inverse correlate of T2D risk in men and among those aged ≥55 years, with body mass index ≥24 kg/m2, with higher physical activity, and nonsmokers.
“[O]ur findings support a shift to a diet that emphasizes plant-based foods to improve health outcomes. Future longitudinal studies and well-designed intervention trials are necessary to further understand the long-term impact of a plant-based diet on T2D risk,” the researchers said.