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Vegetarian diet: Can it help me control my diabetes?

Answer Section

A vegetarian diet probably won't cure diabetes. But it may offer some benefits over a diet that isn't vegetarian. It may help you better control your weight. It also could lower your risk of some health issues that are related to diabetes. And a vegetarian diet may make your body more responsive to insulin.

There's no single vegetarian eating plan. Some include dairy products or eggs. Others, such as a vegan diet, don't include any animal products. The benefits of a vegetarian eating plan depend on the type of diet you choose. The food choices you make when following a certain diet also make a difference.

For example, even a vegetarian diet can have harmful effects on blood sugar if it is rich in simple carbohydrates. That's especially true if it includes a lot of starches, such as potatoes, pasta, white rice and white bread.

For most people, eating a vegetarian diet:

  • Makes it easier to stay at a healthy weight. Vegetarian diets often are lower in calories than other diets. That can help with weight control. Also, people who eat a vegetarian diet tend to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than other people. A healthy body weight can improve blood sugar control. It also may lower the risk of developing other health issues related to diabetes.
  • Improves blood sugar control and insulin response. Eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts are all part of a vegetarian diet. Making those food choices can improve blood sugar control and make your body more responsive to insulin. This may mean that you'll need to take less medicine. It also may lower your risk of developing other health issues related to diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease. A low-fat vegetarian diet can lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Heart disease is a common health issue in people who have diabetes.

If you're thinking about starting a vegetarian diet, it can be helpful to talk with a nutrition specialist first. That specialist can help you make an eating plan that gives you the nutrients and calories you need to meet your goals.

Content Last Updated: 09-Jul-2024
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