Benefits of taking vegetarian diet

A recent study has found that a vegetarian diet containing healthy whole grains, fruit and vegetables is significantly better for you than eating meat. Consuming a solely plant based diet can reduce the risk of having type 2 diabetes by 34%

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has released ground breaking findings that could revolutionize the diets of those who are at risk of type 2 diabetes. These findings are the result of 20 years of research, as the authors have followed around 200,000 male as well as female professionals (health professionals) across the United States and questioned their lifestyle choices.  The participants have frequently completed questionnaires on subjects such as their diet, lifestyle, medical history and new disease diagnosis to uncover what effects these factors could have on their health.

To ensure the results are clear and enable researchers to distinguish their diets, the participant’s diets were evaluated by a plant-based diet index. The plant-derived foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains were assigned high scores and animal-derived foods were assigned low scores.

Here is a summary of Ambika Satija, the lead author’s findings:

1.       Modifying your diet to consume healthy plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 34%.

2.        A plant rich diet with a low animal based intake can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%.

3.       A less healthy diet which includes foods such as refined grains, potatoes and sugar-sweetened beverages was linked with sixteen percent increased risk.

4.       The research suggests that healthy plant based diets could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes  as they are high in fiber, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, micronutrients such as magnesium and are low in saturated fat.

Frank Hu, the senior author of the study and Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School summarizes by stating that just a small shift in diet can have substantial health benefits. A completely plant based diet does not have to be consumed to reduce the risk  of type 2 diabetes as the study has found that reducing animal food consumption by a small amount is linked with lower diabetes occurrence

Although this study provides breakthrough findings when it comes to diets and the effect it could have on type 2 diabetes, the study is not without its limitations. Due to the self reporting aspect of the study, there may be a possibility of measurement issues. However, the authors of this study have stated that these errors are reduced due to the study being measured over a long period of time. To show the accuracy and reliability of the findings, the study would also need to be replicated in other populations, locations and be carried out for the same period of time.

In conclusion, Ambika Satija, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition and lead author of the study states that “these findings provide further evidence to support current dietary recommendations for chronic disease prevention.”

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