As more consumers are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, finding a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is of the utmost importance.
Now, new research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine supports previous conclusions that adopting a special diet may help put type 2 diabetes patients into remission.
The study showed that following a diet that’s heavy on plant-based and whole foods was effective at improving blood glucose control, and in some cases, led to remission from the disease.
“The prevalence of diabetes is growing, as is recognition in the health care community that diet as the primary intervention can achieve lasting remission in individuals with type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Gunadhar Panigrahi.
“This case series further supports the effectiveness of a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern as a primary intervention to achieve remission, as well as the need for increased education for both clinicians and patients on the successful application of lifestyle medicine principles and dietary interventions in everyday medical practice.”
Achieving remission through diet
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 59 patients between the ages of 41 and 89 who were treated at a wellness center in Virginia. All of the patients had type 2 diabetes, their hemoglobin A1C levels were all over 6.5%, and some were on medication for their diabetes.
Participants were treated at the wellness center between 2007 and 2021, and had their diets changed to include whole foods, low-fat foods, and plant-based foods.
Ultimately, 22 participants, or 37%, reached full type 2 diabetes remission after following this diet.
In addition, the researchers observed positive changes in other key areas for diabetics: in hemoglobin A1C levels, body mass index (BMI), and fasting glucose levels. While there were no major changes to cholesterol or blood pressure, the diet proved to be effective when it came to these key diabetes markers.
Experts also say that it’s important for diabetes patients to continue regular check-ins with their healthcare providers and also incorporate regular exercise into their routines to ensure optimal health outcomes. Additionally, education about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is likely to encourage diabetics to change their eating habits.
“There is a perception that many patients may not accept the idea that adopting a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, but there is a growing abundance of research that in fact shows adherence to a plant-predominant dietary pattern is feasible and even enjoyable,” said Micaela Karlsen, senior director of research at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
“Although full remission may not be possible for every patient, our research shows that every patient deserves to know that it may be possible through the adopting of appropriately dosed therapeutic lifestyle change.”