Healthy Vegan Diet, Diabetes Prevention & Control

Benefits of a healthy vegan diet to prevent and control Type 2 Diabetes

Eric Sharer

Chicago Vegan Examiner Marla Rose interviews Eric Sharer, RD about the benefits of a healthy vegan diet to prevent and control Type 2 Diabetes.

During the Vegan in Chicago Examiner interview, Marla Rose and Eric Sharer referred to Paula Deen’s coming-out-of-the-diabetic-closet as a spokesperson for pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk and their $500-a-month diabetes drug, Victoza.

Excerts from the Eric Sharer Interview:

Marla Rose: When interviewed last week, Paula Deen said that her diet played a role in her developing diabetes, but seemed to downplay it and place as much blame on heredity and age.

As an RD, how much do you think diet is responsible for Type 2 diabetes? For example, if I were a vegan maintaining a moderately healthy diet and activity level but with two diabetic parents, as a dietitian, would you be concerned about me developing this disease as well?

Eric Sharer: Many factors can increase risk of Type 2 diabetes, including obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, age, and genetics. 7 Over time age can impact diabetes risk, but if this was the major contributor, there would not be such alarmingly high rates of type II diabetes in children and young adults. (8)

Also, if age/heredity was the main issue, than no one would be able to manage their diabetes and even reverse their diabetes with diet and lifestyle changes. Having a family history of diabetes puts you at an increased risk of developing diabetes to an extent, but that risk can be greatly diminished if one follows a healthy lifestyle during their life.

There are several reasons that diet and lifestyle play a huge role on diabetes risk and management. As previously stated, healthy cells and a healthy pancreas are key to preventing/managing type II diabetes.

Healthy cells are soft/flexible, easily allowing insulin in and out of their cells. A diet high in fat/cholesterol will cause the cells to become hard and rigid, making it hard for insulin to get into the cell.

Obesity causes the release of inflammation in the body that damages cells and also makes them rigid. Exercise helps open cells up and improve blood sugar control, so a diet lacking in exercise will further hinder blood sugar control. A diet high in refined grains/sugars causes constant stimulation of the pancreas/cells, many times resulting in decreased control.


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(WebMD) Eating a low-fat vegan diet may be better at managing type 2 diabetes than traditional diets, according to a new study.

Researchers in the study found that 43 percent of people with type 2 diabetes who followed a low-fat vegan diet for 22 weeks reduced their need to take medications to manage their disease compared with 26 percent of those who followed the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Eric Sharer, RD, from comments to the Vegan in Chicago Examiner interview:

Today while reading a copy of The Vegetarian Journal, I found an interesting study to compliment this article.


Quinoa Recipe Ebook

A study of more than 200,000 people found a strong and consistent relationship between the intake of red and processed meats with risk of developing type II diabetes (t2d). Researchers found a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) by substituting food for red meat.

They found the following: that substituting 1 serving of nuts showed a 21% lower risk of developing T2D, and 1 serving of grains showed 23% risk reduction. Substituting a serving of fish or poultry had less of an impact on risk reduction.

This study also discussed their belief that red meat increases risk of type 2 diabetes (t2d):

The high heme-iron content of red meat is very unstable and promotes oxidative stress, which damages the pancreas cells. Also the sodium and nitrates in processed red meat get converted into compounds, nitrosamines, which have found to be toxic to pancreatic beta cells, and increasing risk of diabetes. This study also showed a relationship between red meat intake and risk of obesity in the future.

Food for thought: Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Seen in Vegans

Eric Sharer is an RD and culinary expert, dedicated to promoting the health benefits of a plant-based diet for disease prevention, treatment, and optimal health. In addition to working at The Block Center, a highly esteemed clinic for integrative cancer care, Eric is a Nutrition Advisor for The Vegetarian Resource Group, and a Food for Life Instructor for The Cancer Project. He is now starting his own private practice as well.

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2 Responses to “Healthy Vegan Diet, Diabetes Prevention & Control”

  1. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Don, according to the book Vegan for Life, by vegan RDs Messina and Norris, Vit D2 from plant sources is an acceptable type of vitamin D. Apparently the body converts it to the form it needs. If you google it, you should be able to find sources of D2 online. Of course, sunshine is the best source of all, but lacking during winter months in northern climates.

  2. Don Randall says:

    Research indicates a connection between vitamin D deficiency and T2D and many other autoimmune diseases. A vegan diet with plenty of good fat from raw or boiled nuts, ground flax seeds, quinoa etc. is definitely a healthy choice. I would love to know where to get vitamin D2 supplements, as I take 4000 to 8000 IU per day – and it’s vitamin D3, which is a product or byproduct of the slaughterhouse!

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