Diabetes and Vegetarian Diet (Plant-Based Food Component May Reduce Diabetes Risk. Medscape. Feb 24, 2014)
The findings in a study published recently by Dr. Qi Sun (of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) clearly show that a plant-based diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables promotes the primary prevention of diabetes. This is because of Lignans. These are plant-synthesized chemicals found in almost all plant foods, especially fiber-containing foods.
Dr. Qi Sun’s research examined the data for urinary concentrations of lignan metabolites in relation to type 2 diabetes risk. Data on blood and urinary samples on 1107 study subjects was studied across the decade. These subjects did not have type 2 diabetes when the study started but then went on to develop it over the years when compared to a control group which did not develop diabetes. The control group, which did not develop diabetes, had higher levels of lignans in their diet.
While the exact mechanisms of how lignans work is not fully understood, some studies suggest that antioxidation may play a role. Lignan metabolites, especially enterolactone seem to play a major role in reducing diabetes risk. These lignan metabolites, produced via metabolism by intestinal microbiota, are more biologically active than the lignans themselves.
Thus, plant based foods, especially those rich in lignans (e.g. flaxseed) are shown to reduce the risk of onset of type 2 diabetes (Plant-Based Food Component May Reduce Diabetes Risk. Medscape. Feb 24, 2014).