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A study published in the journal Nutrients finds that a vegan diet helps to promote beneficial gut hormones that are responsible for regulating blood sugar, satiety, and weight.
Researchers compared a vegan meal with a meal containing meat and cheese on hormone levels in a group of 60 men: 20 with obesity, 20 with type 2 diabetes, and 20 who were healthy. The meals contained the same amount of calories and ratio of macronutrients.
Across all three groups, the vegan meal increased beneficial gastrointestinal hormones, compared with the non-vegan meal. These hormones are involved in the regulation of glucose metabolism, insulin secretion, energy homeostasis, satiety, and weight management.
“These beneficial gut hormones can help keep weight down, enhance insulin secretion, regulate blood sugar, and keep us feeling full longer,” says study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “The fact that simple meal choices can increase the secretion of these healthy hormones has important implications for those with type 2 diabetes or weight problems.”
In the United States, more than 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese, while more than 114 million adults have either diabetes or prediabetes. Previous studies have shown that plant-based diets are beneficial for weight loss and that those following a plant-based diet have approximately half the risk of developing diabetes, compared with non-vegetarians.
“This study adds to the mounting evidence that plant-based diets can help manage and prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity,” says Dr. Kahleova.
Study participants across all three groups also self-reported that the vegan meal increased satiety, or feelings of after-meal satisfaction. The researchers note that vegan meals are often rich in fiber–a nutrient found in plant foods that adds bulk to the diet without adding extra calories.
A recent report from the World Health Organization found that high-fiber diets reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and even premature death.
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