Switching to a diet based mostly on fruits and vegetables — but still including some lean meat and low-fat dairy — could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 60%, according to three studies just presented to a meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Baltimore. The study also found that consuming produce before meat — or rice — kept blood sugar levels lower, suggesting that the order of eating has an effect as well.
These dietary strategies could have a major effect on the nation’s health, since an estimated 30 million-plus people in America suffer from the disease.
The effect of diet on type 2 diabetes has been well documented. In reviewing the findings presented in Baltimore, Dr. Rekha Kumar, an endocrinologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, stressed that “emphasizing fruits and vegetables and whole foods is a very practical and easy way to manage [the disease].” Increasing consumption of plant-based foods is among the health resolutions doctors want you to keep.
The 60% estimate is based on three separate dietary analyses. One followed the diets and health of more than 2,700 people — 40% black and almost 60% women — recruited at an average age of 25 over a 30-year period. The second one analyzed data from about 200,000 American adults for 15 years.
The third and smallest study asked 16 Chinese adults, mostly male, to each eat five experimental meals containing vegetables, meat, and rice, to be consumed in different sequences. The meal that began with vegetables, proceeded to meat, and finished with rice lead to the lowest increase in blood sugar.
According to the first study, the ideal daily diet seemed to consist of four or more servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit, one-and-a-half servings of nuts or seeds, nearly two servings of whole grains, less than one serving of processed meat, and one serving of red meat. Numerous independent health organizations strongly recommend that people be aware of the 10 warning signs that you might have diabetes.