Diabetics Going Vegan

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Diabetics Going Vegan: An expo recently held in New York City was sponsored by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The expo had a variety of educational stations designed to help people understand and manage diabetes. A vegan diet was part of the discussion.

One of the guests was referred to in the New York Times blog, Well. Chef Jason Wyrick was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes eight years ago. At age 28, Wyrick struggled with his eyesight and his blood sugar was extremely high. As a personal choice he gravitated to a vegan diet and indicates his condition was completely turned around by making this choice.

The New York Times blog indicates, “A 2006 study published in Diabetes Care compared a low-fat vegan diet to a standard diet following the traditional American Diabetes Association guidelines. Both diets improved glycemic and lipid control in patients with diabetes, but the low-fat vegan diet produced the best results.”

Chef Wyrick used the avocado as his main vegetable in his cooking demonstrations. What follows is one of his recipes.

Roasted Red Pepper Avocado Dip

1 avocado
2 roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree. Serve with sliced cucumber.

For more clarity on a vegan diet in relation to Type 2 diabetes we checked in with the Mayo Clinic. They indicated, “Changing to a vegetarian diet probably won’t cure your diabetes. But it may offer some benefits over a nonvegetarian diet — such as helping to better control your weight, reducing your risk of some diabetes-associated complications, and possibly even making your body more responsive to insulin. This, of course, depends on the type of vegetarian diet you choose and the particular food choices you make when following the diet.”

Weight gain is the most common link to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The Mayo Clinic further notes, “Significant weight loss resulting from a vegetarian diet can improve type 2 diabetes in people who are obese. But this is also true of similar weight loss from a nonvegetarian diet. Some research indicates that a vegetarian diet makes your body more responsive to insulin — which is a very good thing if you have diabetes. In fact, in a 2006 study published in the journal Diabetes Care (the same report listed above), 43 percent of people with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-fat vegan diet reduced their need for diabetes medications.”

As far as what plan might be best the May Clinic suggests, “There’s no single vegetarian eating plan. A vegan diet is the strictest of all vegetarian diets. Vegans eat no animal meat and no foods that come from animals, such as dairy products and eggs. Other types of vegetarian diets may allow dairy products and eggs.”

In the Vegan Food Guide (think food pyramid) the most common item that should be consumed are 6-11 servings of grains followed by at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. As you move higher on the pyramid there are 6-11 servings of soymilk or alternatives as well as 2-3 servings beans or alternatives. At the top of the vegan pyramid are vitamin supplements including Omega 3, vitamin D and vitamin B-12.

A vegan diet may not be for everyone, but for those who have tried it as part of a diabetic management plan they have been very pleased with the results. If nothing else perhaps this can provide some encouragement to try to vegetable-based meal ideas to help lower cholesterol, fat and calories.

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