Vegan Diet Reverses Diabetes Symptoms

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

27 July 2006


A1c gives a measure of how well-controlled blood sugar has been over the preceding three months.

In the dieters who did not change whatever cholesterol drugs they were on during the study, LDL or "bad" cholesterol fell by 21 percent in the vegan group and 10 percent in the standard diet group.

The vegan diet removed all animal products, including meat, fish and dairy. It was also low in added fat and in sugar.

The American Diabetes Association diet is more tailored, taking into account the patient's weight and cholesterol. Most patients on this diet cut calories significantly, and were told to eat sugary and starchy foods in moderation.

All 99 participants met weekly with advisers, who advised them on recipes, gave them tips for sticking to their respective diets, and offered encouragement.

"We have got a combination here that works successfully," said Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto, who worked on the study. "The message that we so often get with diet is that it is no good because nobody follows it for very long."

Dr. Joshua Cohen, George Washington University associate professor of medicine, said everyone diagnosed with diabetes is told to start eating more carefully.

"That may be among the hardest things that any of us can do," Cohen told the news conference.

The vegan diet "is at least as good, if not better than traditional approaches," Cohen said.

Vance Warren, a 36-year-old retired police officer living in Washington, said he lowered his a1c from 10.4, considered uncontrolled diabetes, to 5.1, considered a healthy level, over 18 months. "My life is much better being 74 pounds (34 kg) lighter," Warren told the news conference.