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A vegan diet rich in fruits,vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds,with no or a fewanimalproducts,may significantly lower the risk of developing type II diabetes, a study claims. This diet is associated with improved psychological wellbeing, reduction in someof the known risk factorsfor type 2 diabetes, and possibly someof those linked to cardiovascular dis­ ease as well.The studywas conducted by researchers from University of London in the UK.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 642 million peo­ple will be living with diabetes by 2040.Nearly 15per cent of all global deaths are attributed todiabetes; and it killed five million peoplebefore the age of 60in 2015,according to thestudypublished inthejoumalBMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

It is also frequently associated with depression, which in tum affects how well blood glucose levels are controlled. While a predominantly plant-based diet-rich in fruits,vegetables,nuts,legumes,and seedswith no (vegan) orfewanimalproducts hasbeenlinked to a significantly low­ er risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it's not clear if it might also be linked to improved mood and wellbeing. 

What is veganism?

According to the Vegan Society, 'veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Vegans follow a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey – as well as products like leather and any tested on animals'.

Vegan Life Magazine report that the vegan movement is growing fastest in the younger population: almost half (42 per cent) of the 542,000 vegans in the UK are aged between 15–34, compared with just 15 per cent who are over 65. People choose to follow a vegan lifestyle for different reasons such as concern about animal welfare and the planet. However, another contributing factor which may encourage people to follow a vegan diet is that it can provide some health benefits. It has also become considerably easier to ‘go vegan’ these days. Not so long ago, you’d have to make a special trip to a health food store for ingredients such as tofu or tempeh, but now you can find most of the produce needed for a healthy vegan diet in your regular supermarket. Additionally, more restaurants are now offering vegan options on their menus to cater for the growing numbers.

Health benefits of a vegan diet :-

Plant-based foods – which are a large part of a vegan diet – particularly fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses and seeds, have been shown to help in the treatment of many chronic diseases and are often associated with lower levels of Type 2 diabetes, less hypertension, lower cholesterol levels and reduced cancer rates. Some studies also show that vegans are less likely to be overweight and tend to have a lower percentage of body fat, which in turn will reduce the risk of many other diseases.

Are vegan diets suitable for people with diabetes?

Vegan diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables and other protective substances like phytochemicals and antioxidants – as a result, they fit well with the current dietary guidelines for people with diabetes. It’s important to discuss the matter with your physician .

Maintaining good nutrition

Protein

Consuming enough protein is a concern for many new vegans. However, it may not be as big a problem as we anticipate. Most of us eat far more protein than our body requires, and there are plenty of vegan foods which are good sources of protein:

There is generally more carbohydrate in plant-based protein sources, so it's possible that your carbohydrate intake may increase when you switch to a vegan diet. However, you can still watch your portions and always look for low glycaemic index (GI) options and pick foods that are high in fibre. The GI is a measure of how quickly carbohydrate is absorbed – the quicker it is, the higher the GI.

Vitamins

The body needs vitamin B12 to maintain healthy blood and a healthy nervous system. We get vitamin B12 from food but it is only found naturally in animal products. However, many vegan foods are fortified with B12 to compensate for this. The Vegan Society recommend that you should eat a food fortified with B12 at each meal, or take a supplement that contains at least 10 micrograms of B12 each day in order to stay healthy. Fortified foods and/or supplements are the only reliable sources of B12 in a plant-based diet.

Vegan foods fortified with B12 include:

Calcium

It’s also important to ensure that a vegan diet contains enough calcium, which is important for strong bones. Calcium is needed throughout life, but particularly while bones are still growing until around the age of 25. you should choose dairy alternatives, such as plant-based milks and yogurts which are fortified with calcium.

Vegan foods fortified with calcium include:

You may have heard that spinach is a good source of calcium. Unfortunately, although it does contain calcium, it also contains chemicals which bind to the calcium and therefore make it difficult for the body to absorb. Don't let that stop you eating spinach though, as it still contains lots of other good stuff.

Other nutrients

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are useful in the treatment and prevention of heart disease. As people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease they may benefit from including Omega-3 in their diet. It can, however, be more difficult when following a vegan diet.

Vegan sources of Omega-3 include:

These sources are not as good as oily fish, so it's important to include them on a regular basis in order to get adequate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. You may want to consider taking a supplement, but make sure you choose one which is suitable for vegans.

Iron

As meat is rich in iron, some people following a vegan diet may be concerned that they won't be able to get enough from their food.

There are good vegan sources of iron, including:

Consuming more fruit and vegetables can also help as they are high in vitamin C which increases the amount of iron your body absorbs.

Your diabetes and your food choices

If you’re considering a vegan diet – for health, lifestyle or other purposes – it's possible to ensure it’s both healthy and balanced. As well as offering a number of potential health benefits, particularly for people with diabetes, the good news is that it’s never been easier to begin. 

All the information has been collected from different sources , books , newspaper etc for the benifit of humanity and guiding people to adapt the new way of disease free lifestyle. 

Dr. Vidur SN Vithal BHMS; DNHE; MD (Hom.)

Internationally renound Homeopath & nutritionist.

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