Veggie diet, exercise can prevent diabetes

Last Updated: Nov 12, 2011, 14:43 PM IST

Washington: A vegetarian diet and active physical activity could help reduce risk of diabetes in the black population, a new study has suggested.

The study found that following a vegetarian diet and exercising at least three times a week, significantly reduced the risk of diabetes in African Americans, who are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes when compared to non-Hispanic whites.

“These findings are encouraging for preventing type 2 diabetes in the black population, which is more susceptible to the disease than other populations,” said Serena Tonstad, MD, a professor at Loma Linda University and lead author of the research.

In addition to being at a greater risk for developing diabetes, black persons in the U.S. are also more likely to suffer from diabetes-related complications, such as end-stage renal disease and lower-extremity amputations, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“A vegetarian diet may be a way to counteract the increased diabetes risk for the black population,” stated Dr. Tonstad

Dr. Tonstad’s research found that, compared to non-vegetarian blacks, vegan blacks had a 70 percent reduced risk of diabetes, and lacto-ovo vegetarian blacks (those who consume dairy, but no meat) had a 53 percent reduced risk of diabetes.

Dr. Tonstad said one explanation was the protection associated with foods typically consumed in higher amounts in a vegetarian diet.

Fruits and vegetables have a high fibre content, which may contribute to a decreased occurrence of type 2 diabetes.

In addition, whole grains and legumes (beans) have been shown to improve glycemic control and slow the rate of carbohydrate absorption and the risk of diabetes.

The study also showed that black participants who exercised three or more times a week, compared to once a week or never, had a 35 percent reduced risk of diabetes.

The study has been published in the October issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

ANI