Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Outcomes Related to Glucose Metabolism: A Systematic Review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionDiabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy. 2020, 13, 2811–2822. https://doi.org/10.2147/DMSO.S265982
According to the rising prevalence of obesity and metabolic disorders leading to impaired glucose metabolism, effective strategies to prevent and/or delay the onset of disease are of great need. A plant-based diet has been suggested as an effective lifestyle change that may reduce the degree of obesity and improve outcomes related to glucose metabolism. This systematic review aimed to evaluate the effect of a plant-based diet on outcomes related to glucose metabolism. A literature search was conducted in the database PubMed until January 30, 2020. Randomized controlled trials investigating the effect of a plant-based dietary intervention on outcomes related to glucose metabolism in human subjects compared to an omnivorous diet were eligible for inclusion. Of 65 publications identified, nine trials on subjects with overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or cardiovascular disease were included. Five studies reported that the plant-based intervention significantly improved markers of glycemic control from baseline to end point, of which four revealed a significant improvement in the intervention group compared to the control intervention. The remaining four studies did not observe a significant effect of a plant-based intervention on outcomes related to glucose metabolism. Our findings suggest that a shift to a plant-based diet may lead to favorable effects on glycemic control in individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus and/or obesity. The data were however somewhat conflicting, and the included trials reported results based on different intervention diets and study populations. Overall, no clear conclusions regarding effects of different plant-based diets can be drawn based on the current findings alone.