going vegan benefitsWhen it comes to improving blood sugar, you know it all – the expensive medications, the diligent calorie counting, the strenuous exercise, the unrelenting stress.

Then there’s the being prepared for the blood sugar spikes, as well as the times your blood sugar plummets.

Sure, you’re in control of your blood sugar…more or less…but it’s certainly no easy task.

What if it didn’t have to be? What if simply going vegan could improve your blood sugar? But if it were that easy, surely you would’ve heard about it, right?

Not necessarily. But it’s true – one of the many benefits of going vegan may be improving your blood sugar numbers.

Great – But What Is It?

You’ve probably heard of a vegetarian diet – where the person doesn’t eat any meat protein. And there are variations of vegetarian diets:

  • lacto-ovo vegetarian - where the person eats dairy products and eggs
  • pesco-vegetarian - where the person eats fish and other seafood, but no other meat (also called a pescatarian)
  • semi-vegetarian - where the person eats mostly vegetarian, but will occasionally eat meat (also called a flexitarian)

Then there’s veganism. The vegan diet is the most restrictive of the vegetarian diets in that someone following a vegan diet doesn’t eat any animal products at all.

No dairy, no eggs, some don’t even eat honey because it comes from bees. Instead, they get their protein mostly from seeds, nuts, legumes, and sometimes soy.

More and more, people are discovering the benefits of going vegan. They’re coming to believe that a vegan diet can help lower your blood sugar numbers.

Numbers Don't Lie

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your diet should be a key component in maintaining your health and achieving healthy numbers.

Their recommendations are as follows:

A1c Levels <7%
Blood Pressure <140/80
LDL Cholesterol <100mg/dL
Triglycerides <150 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol (men) >40mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol (women) >50 mg/dL

They have dietary recommendations that are supposed to help you reach these goals. However, in a 22 week study comparing a diet made up of the ADA’s recommendations and a vegan diet, the vegan diet performed better.

Now, I want to be clear: the ADA’s dietary guidelines improved every marker, including blood sugar levels. So their recommended diet works.

Still, if you look at the head-to-head comparison, a vegan diet works even better.

For this study, the individuals following a vegan diet were asked to break down their daily nutrients this way: 10 percent of calories came from fat, 15 percent from protein, and 75 percent from carbohydrate. They were told they did not have to count calories or measure beyond these parameters.

The people following the ADA’s recommendations were given calorie limits if they were overweight. Everyone in both groups were told to maintain their current levels of exercise.

By the end of the 22 weeks, the individuals following the ADA’s guidelines had seen their A1c levels drop from 7.9 to 7.4. But those following a vegan diet saw their numbers go from 8% to 7.1%.

The average cholesterol in the ADA group dropped from 195 to 176, while the cholesterol in the vegan group went from 190 to 157. And finally, the ADA group lost an average of seven pounds in the 22 weeks – but the vegan group lost an average of fourteen pounds in the same time.

Other studies have indicated a vegan diet may help lower blood sugar levels, as well.

In one four year study, the instances of type 2 diabetes were consistently lower in people who followed a vegan diet than even other forms of vegetarian diets, let alone of diets that included meat – regardless of BMI, or starting weight.

Change the Way You Think to Change the Way You Feel

If you want to get started on a vegan diet, the first thing you need to do is change the way you think about food.

Instead of the old four food groups you grew up with, or the food pyramid you may remember, think about four new food groups. You should draw your meals from whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.

Limit your oil intake – even the healthier ones – in order to keep your fat intake in line.

Consider a B12 supplement, because it’s hard to get enough without meat protein. Always talk to your doctor before making any dietary changes.

Still, if you’re looking to correct diabetes, or just improve your blood sugar levels so you never get there, consider going vegan.

Out of the many benefits of going vegan,  improving your blood sugar will do wonders for your health - not to mention how easy and effective it is!