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Study: Plant Protein Benefits Diabetics


In the past, there have been conflicting findings as to whether or not a high-protein diet was beneficial for diabetics.

Researchers in Germany set about to make sense of these studies. They presented their results in September, at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Less than forty people with diabetes around the age of sixty-five participated in the study.

Scientists had one group of participants consume a high-protein diet – defined as 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat – with their protein coming from animal sources.

A second group consumed a similar portioned diet, but with their protein coming from plant sources. Both groups maintained their eating regimens for six weeks.

The Findings:
  • Liver enzyme tests improved in both groups 
  • Reduction in liver fat in both groups 
  • Reduction in glycated haemoglobin (A1c) or HbA1c in both groups
  • Insulin sensitivity improved in animal protein group 
  • Significant reduction of plasma creatinine in plant protein group (better kidney functioning) 
  • Improvement in general kidney functioning in plant protein group
  • More research on a larger group of subjects needed

From Medical Xpress:

The authors conclude: “In diabetic subjects, the 6-week high-protein diet leads to an improvement in glucose metabolism and decrease in liver fat independently from the protein source. The high-protein diet has no adverse effects on kidney parameters, moreover the kidney function actually improved in the plant protein group.”

This isn’t the first study to link plant-based protein to a moderate reduction in diabetes. A much larger study found that diets that supplemented plant-based protein in place of meat sources reduced the likelihood of diabetes.

From Harvard:

…a 20-year study that looked at the relationship between low-carbohydrate diets and type 2 diabetes in women. Low-carbohydrate diets that were high in vegetable sources of fat and protein modestly reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. But low-carbohydrate diets that were high in animal sources of protein or fat did not show this benefit.

Again, from Harvard:

“Substituting one serving of nuts, low-fat dairy products, or whole grains for a serving of red meat each day lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by an estimated 16 to 35 percent.”

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