Plant-Based Diet Linked To Lower Risk of Diabetes Interview with:

Ambika Satija Departments of Nutrition & Epidemiology Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA

Ambika Satija

Ambika Satija
Departments of Nutrition & Epidemiology
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA What is the background for this study?

Response: In this study, we followed more than 200,000 male and female health professionals across the U.S. for more than 20 years who had regularly filled out questionnaires on their diet, lifestyle, medical history, and new disease diagnoses as part of three large long-term studies. What are the main findings?

Response: We found that consumption of an overall plant-based diet, in which plant foods were assigned higher scores and animal foods lower scores, was associated with a 20% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Consuming a healthier version of a plant-based diet, in which healthy plant foods (e.g. whole grains, fruits, vegetables) were assigned higher scores, while less healthy plant foods (e.g. refined grains, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages), and animal foods were assigned lower scores, was linked with a 34% lower type 2 diabetes risk. On the other hand, a less healthy version of a plant-based diet, which emphasized the less healthy plant foods was linked with a 16% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: A shift to a dietary pattern higher in healthful plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods, especially red and processed meats, can confer substantial health benefits in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes. In particular we found that even modestly lowering animal food consumption was linked with lower type 2 diabetes incidence. Hence, this study highlights that even moderate dietary changes in the direction of a healthful plant-based diet can play a significant role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research should examine the health effects of plant-based diets in diverse populations, evaluate the role of a healthful plant-based diet in the prevention of other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and explore potential biological mechanisms involved in the association of plant-based diets with chronic disease risk. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies
Ambika Satija ,Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju,Eric B. Rimm,Donna Spiegelman,Stephanie E. Chiuve,Lea Borgi,Walter C. Willett,JoAnn E. Manson,Qi Sun,Frank B. Hu
PLOS Medicine  Published: June 14, 2016

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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