A Comprehensive Review of the Literature Supporting Recommendations From the Canadian Diabetes Association for the Use of a Plant-Based Diet for Management of Type 2 Diabetes

Can J Diabetes. 2016 Oct;40(5):471-477. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2016.02.011. Epub 2016 Jul 28.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus is considered one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada, representing a serious public health concern. Thus, clinicians have begun targeting modifiable risk factors to manage type 2 diabetes, including dietary patterns such as a plant-based diets (PBDs). The Canadian Diabetes Association has included PBDs among the recommended dietary patterns to be used in medical nutrition therapy for persons with type 2 diabetes. To support knowledge translation, this review summarizes the current literature relating to PBDs and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, its clinical applications and its acceptability in the management of type 2 diabetes as well as its application in community settings. This comprehensive review seeks to close the literature gap by providing background and rationale to support the use of PBDs as medical nutrition therapy. Within this review is support from large observational studies, which have shown that PBDs were associated with lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes. As well, intervention studies have shown that PBDs were just as effective, if not more effective, than other diabetes diets in improving body weight, cardiovascular risk factors, insulin sensitivity, glycated hemoglobin levels, oxidative stress markers and renovascular markers. Furthermore, patient acceptability was comparable to other diabetes diets, and PBDs reduced the need for diabetes medications. Diabetes education centres in Canada could improve patients' perceptions of PBDs by developing PBD-focused education and support as well as providing individualized counselling sessions addressing barriers to change. The development of more standardized and user-friendly PBD practice guidelines could overcome the disparity in recommendations and, thereby, increase how frequently practitioners recommend PBDs. Based on current published research, PBDs lend support in the management of type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: clinical practice guidelines; diabetes; diabète; lignes directrices de pratique clinique; micronutrients; nutrition management; plant based diet; prise en charge nutritionnelle; régime alimentaire à base de végétaux.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diet Therapy / methods
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Voluntary Health Agencies