The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising worldwide, especially in older adults. Diet and lifestyle, particularly plant-based diets, are effective tools for type 2 diabetes prevention and management. Plant-based diets are eating patterns that emphasize legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds and discourage most or all animal products. Cohort studies strongly support the role of plant-based diets, and food and nutrient components of plant-based diets, in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Evidence from observational and interventional studies demonstrates the benefits of plant-based diets in treating type 2 diabetes and reducing key diabetes-related macrovascular and microvascular complications. Optimal macronutrient ratios for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes are controversial; the focus should instead be on eating patterns and actual foods. However, the evidence does suggest that the type and source of carbohydrate (unrefined versus refined), fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated versus saturated and trans), and protein (plant versus animal) play a major role in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Multiple potential mechanisms underlie the benefits of a plant-based diet in ameliorating insulin resistance, including promotion of a healthy body weight, increases in fiber and phytonutrients, food-microbiome interactions, and decreases in saturated fat, advanced glycation endproducts, nitrosamines, and heme iron.
Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Insulin resistance; Vegan; Vegetarian.