A vegetarian or vegan diet can be a good choice for people with diabetes. Vegetarian and vegan diets are typically high in carbohydrates - about 13% higher than a diet with that includes both plant and animal products (omnivorous) – which we generally think is bad for diabetes. However, a vegetarian or vegan diet is typically higher in fiber and lower in calories and saturated fat, so the inflammatory risks associated with high meat consumption are avoided. Research studies that have tested vegetarian and vegan diets for people with diabetes; have found them to be beneficial at reducing blood sugar.12
Food can be powerful in preventing and reversing diabetes. However, dietary approaches have changed as we have learned more about the disease. The traditional approach to diabetes focuses on limiting refined sugars and foods that release sugars during digestion-starches, breads, fruits, etc. With carbohydrates reduced, the diet may contain an unhealthful amount of fat and protein. Therefore, diabetes experts have taken care to limit fats- especially saturated fats that can raise cholesterol levels, and to limit protein for people with impaired kidney function. The new approach focuses more attention on fat. Fat is a problem for people with diabetes. The more fat there is in the diet, the harder time insulin has in getting glucose into the cells. Conversely, minimizing fat intake and reducing body fat help insulin do its job much better. Newer treatment programs drastically reduce meats, high-fat dairy products, and oils.[46,47,48,49,50] At the same time, they increase grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. The study found that patients on oral medications and patients on insulin were able to get off of their medications after some days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program. During 2 and 3-year follow-ups, most people with diabetes treated with this regimen have retained their gains. The dietary changes are simple, but profound, and they work.[51,52,53]
Recently, evidence suggested a link between the intake of soft drinks with obesity and diabetes, resulting from large amounts of high fructose corn syrup used in the manufacturing of soft drinks, which raises blood glucose levels and BMI to the dangerous levels.38 It was also stated by Assy39 that diet soft drinks contain glycated chemicals that markedly augment insulin resistance. Food intake has been strongly linked with obesity, not only related to the volume of food but also in terms of the composition and quality of diet.40 High intake of red meat, sweets and fried foods, contribute to the increased the risk of insulin resistance and T2DM.41 In contrast, an inverse correlation was observed between intake of vegetables and T2DM. Consumption of fruits and vegetables may protect the development of T2DM, as they are rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants which are considered as protective barrier against the diseases.42 Recently, in Japanese women, a report revealed that elevated intake of white rice was associated with an increased risk of T2DM.43 This demands an urgent need for changing lifestyle among general population and further increase the awareness of healthy diet patterns in all groups.