Plant-Based Diets Recognized by Diabetes Associations

Plant-Based Diets Recognized by Diabetes Associations
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Plant-based diets as the single most important, yet underutilized, opportunity to reverse the pending obesity and diabetes-induced epidemic of disease and death.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Dr. Kim Williams, immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology, started out an editorial on plant-based diets with the classic Schopenhauer quote that “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as…” Like duh, of course. In 2013, plant-based diets for diabetes were in the ridiculed stage in the official endocrinology practice guidelines, placed in the “Fad Diets” section. They acknowledge strictly plant-based diets “have been shown to reduce the risk for” type 2 diabetes and “improve management of” diabetes better than the American Diabetes Association recommendations, but then inexplicably go on to say that the evidence “does not support the use of one type of diet over another,” with respect to diabetes or in general. “The best approach for a healthy lifestyle is simply the ‘amelioration of unhealthy choices.'” Whatever the heck that means.

But by 2015, the clinical practice guidelines from the same professional associations explicitly endorsed as their general recommendation for diabetic patients: a plant-based diet. The times they are a-changin’.

The American Diabetes Association itself is also now on board, listing it as one of the dietary patterns acceptable for the management of the condition, but the Canadian Diabetes Association has really taken the lead. “Type 2 diabetes…is considered one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada, representing a serious public health concern.” So, they’re not messin’ around, recommending plant-based diets for disease management “because of their potential to improve body weight and [blood sugar control, as well as heart disease risk], in addition to reducing the need for diabetes medications.” They use the Kaiser Permanente definition: “a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy…and eggs, as well as all refined and processed [junk].”

They recommend diabetes education centers in Canada “improve patients’ perceptions of plant-based diets by developing…[educational materials and] providing individualized counselling sessions” to address what barriers people have to eating plant-based. The biggest barrier identified was ignorance. Nearly 9 out of 10 patients interviewed had never even heard of using a plant-based diet to treat diabetes. Why is that? Maybe patient awareness of the benefits is being “influenced by the perception of the diabetes educators and clinicians.” See, most of the staff were aware, yet only about one in three were currently recommending it.

Why not? “One of the common reasons” given was that they didn’t think their patients would do it, so they didn’t even bring it up. But “[t]his notion is contrary to the patient survey results” they cite, in which most patients said they would be willing to at least give it a try. The researchers cite the PCRM Geico studies I did videos about, in which strictly plant-based diets were “well accepted with over 95 percent adherence rate,” presumably because they just felt so much better—increased energy, better digestion, better sleep, and satisfaction.

“A number of staff members also expressed their second reason for not recommending this diet…[ not being clear about the supportive scientific evidence. But it’s been shown to be “more effective than an [American Diabetes Association]-recommended diet at reducing the use of diabetes medication,” long-term blood sugar control, and cholesterol. “It is therefore possible that” the diabetes educators were simply behind the times, as there’s “a lag-time in dissemination” of new scientific findings from the literature, to the clinician, and finally to the patient. That’s one of the reasons I started NutritionFacts.org—to speed up the process!

As Dr. Williams put it, the evidence “for the benefits of plant-based nutrition continues to mount.” “This now includes lower rates of stroke, hypertension, diabetes…, obesity, [heart attacks, and cardiac death], as well as many non-cardiac issues that affect our patients in cardiology, ranging from cancer to a variety of inflammatory conditions.” The science we got. The bigger challenge is overcoming the “inertia, culture, habit and widespread marketing of unhealthy foods.” He concludes: “Reading the existing [scientific] literature and evaluating the impact of plant-based nutrition, it clearly represents the single most important yet underutilized opportunity  to reverse the pending obesity and diabetes-induced epidemic of disease and [death].”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Dr. Kim Williams, immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology, started out an editorial on plant-based diets with the classic Schopenhauer quote that “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as…” Like duh, of course. In 2013, plant-based diets for diabetes were in the ridiculed stage in the official endocrinology practice guidelines, placed in the “Fad Diets” section. They acknowledge strictly plant-based diets “have been shown to reduce the risk for” type 2 diabetes and “improve management of” diabetes better than the American Diabetes Association recommendations, but then inexplicably go on to say that the evidence “does not support the use of one type of diet over another,” with respect to diabetes or in general. “The best approach for a healthy lifestyle is simply the ‘amelioration of unhealthy choices.'” Whatever the heck that means.

But by 2015, the clinical practice guidelines from the same professional associations explicitly endorsed as their general recommendation for diabetic patients: a plant-based diet. The times they are a-changin’.

The American Diabetes Association itself is also now on board, listing it as one of the dietary patterns acceptable for the management of the condition, but the Canadian Diabetes Association has really taken the lead. “Type 2 diabetes…is considered one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada, representing a serious public health concern.” So, they’re not messin’ around, recommending plant-based diets for disease management “because of their potential to improve body weight and [blood sugar control, as well as heart disease risk], in addition to reducing the need for diabetes medications.” They use the Kaiser Permanente definition: “a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy…and eggs, as well as all refined and processed [junk].”

They recommend diabetes education centers in Canada “improve patients’ perceptions of plant-based diets by developing…[educational materials and] providing individualized counselling sessions” to address what barriers people have to eating plant-based. The biggest barrier identified was ignorance. Nearly 9 out of 10 patients interviewed had never even heard of using a plant-based diet to treat diabetes. Why is that? Maybe patient awareness of the benefits is being “influenced by the perception of the diabetes educators and clinicians.” See, most of the staff were aware, yet only about one in three were currently recommending it.

Why not? “One of the common reasons” given was that they didn’t think their patients would do it, so they didn’t even bring it up. But “[t]his notion is contrary to the patient survey results” they cite, in which most patients said they would be willing to at least give it a try. The researchers cite the PCRM Geico studies I did videos about, in which strictly plant-based diets were “well accepted with over 95 percent adherence rate,” presumably because they just felt so much better—increased energy, better digestion, better sleep, and satisfaction.

“A number of staff members also expressed their second reason for not recommending this diet…[ not being clear about the supportive scientific evidence. But it’s been shown to be “more effective than an [American Diabetes Association]-recommended diet at reducing the use of diabetes medication,” long-term blood sugar control, and cholesterol. “It is therefore possible that” the diabetes educators were simply behind the times, as there’s “a lag-time in dissemination” of new scientific findings from the literature, to the clinician, and finally to the patient. That’s one of the reasons I started NutritionFacts.org—to speed up the process!

As Dr. Williams put it, the evidence “for the benefits of plant-based nutrition continues to mount.” “This now includes lower rates of stroke, hypertension, diabetes…, obesity, [heart attacks, and cardiac death], as well as many non-cardiac issues that affect our patients in cardiology, ranging from cancer to a variety of inflammatory conditions.” The science we got. The bigger challenge is overcoming the “inertia, culture, habit and widespread marketing of unhealthy foods.” He concludes: “Reading the existing [scientific] literature and evaluating the impact of plant-based nutrition, it clearly represents the single most important yet underutilized opportunity  to reverse the pending obesity and diabetes-induced epidemic of disease and [death].”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

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