A May 2009 study has shown that both vegan and vegetarian diets have significant effects on diabetes management.
According to the study, those who follow a vegetarian diet are about half as likely to develop diabetes than those who do not. These results could offer a society with rising obesity and diabetes rates a simple solution to increase their odds of getting diabetes.
The study, which was printed in this month's Nutrition Review, says that a low-fat vegan diet is even more effective than many diets created especially for diabetics. This is true because a low-fat vegan diet better improves glycemic control.
Essentially, this means that a vegan diet is beneficial in controlling the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose). Many of the long-term effects of diabetes stem from hyperglycemia, or elevated levels of blood sugar.
The study states that this is mainly due to greater weight loss but evidence suggests that the aforementioned results could also be due to:
"...reduced intake of saturated fats and high-glycemic-index foods, increased intake of dietary fiber and vegetable protein, reduced intramyocellular lipid concentrations, and decreased iron stores mediate the influence of plant-based diets on glycemia."
(High intramyocellular lipid concentrations lead to obesity.)
Since obesity, and in some cases diabetes, are on the rise in our society, reading studies like this one give me hope. If information like this were more available, how many parents would substitute a few happy meals for some vegetable and tofu stir-fry?
In the name of objectivity, I can provide a happy medium.
In June of 2007, the Mayo Clinic published an article titled, "Lean Meats: 10 tips for low-fat cooking". It is filled with different techniques and methods to prepare meat free of or low in unhealthy, saturated fats and cholesterol.
They suggest choosing lean cuts of beef and poultry. Those include round, chuck, sirloin and tenderloin from beef and the white meat from the breast of chicken or turkey, sans skin.
The remaining 9 tips include choosing ground beef that is 90% or higher in lean meat, selecting meat with the least amount of visible fat/trimming the fat off, choosing low-fat marinades and cooking in advance.
The article recommends using low-fat cooking methods like grilling, broiling, roasting, sauteing and baking.
The Mayo Clinic also suggests reducing serving sizes (see last blog.)
As a vegetarian, this article provided some very important and unknown information. In a culture that's immersed in junk food, video games and the internet, scientific studies and articles like these provide helpful tips to avoid the ill-effects of unhealthy eating without (much) sacrifice.