Blood sugar level

Plant based foods as part of a healthy diet are a good choice for achieving glycemic control.

Findings from population studies show that soy consumption is inversely related to the development of type 2 diabetes, moreover soy protein can be beneficial in diabetic nephropathy.

The WHO estimates that more than 220 million people worldwide have diabetes. In 2000, it was estimated that 33 million people in the European region had diabetes and this is thought to increase to 48 million by 2030. Individuals with diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, blindness and kidney dysfunction.
Plant-based eating is associated with better blood glucose control. Reasons for this are likely to be due to the many positive features found in plant-based diets. For example, plant-based foods and eating patterns are typically low in saturated fat and rich in fibre. Fibre is important as it helps glycemic control, may improve satiety and is useful in maintaining body weight. Plant-based eating has also been  associated with better weight management - particularly important as obesity is considered a major risk factor for diabetes.
Data from the Seventh-day Adventist Health Study (including 22,434 men and 38,469 women) found that as the intake of animal products decreased and consumption of plant-based products increased, there was a reduced prevalence of diabetes. Prevalence of type 2 diabetes decreased from 7.6% in non-vegetarians to 2.9% in vegans.
Eating more soya foods was associated with a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes in Chinese men and women in Singapore. In another study from Shanghai, a higher intake of legumes, soya beans in particular, was related to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in middle-aged Chinese women. This beneficial effect of soya was also observed in a study in overweight Japanese women.
Diabetic nephropathy is the most frequent cause of end-stage renal disease in the Western world. Several studies have shown that consuming soya protein can be beneficial in diabetic nephropathy by slowing down renal function deterioration and decreasing proteinuria. Also, diabetics with nephropathy who consume a daily soya drink have better blood pressure control.
Several observational studies consistently show an inverse association between vegetarian diets and Body Mass Index (BMI).

Information from the Adventist Health Studies provides an insight into weight status as people progress from a vegan diet through to an omnivore diet. As more animal products are included in the diet, BMI gradually increases.

Plant-based eating, that includes eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, nuts and seeds and limiting the amount of energy-rich foods, is a simple and effective way to manage weight.
Odegaard AO, Koh WP, Butler LM et al. Dietary patterns and incident type 2 diabetes in chinese men and women: the singapore chinese health study. Diabetes Care 2011;34:880-5.

Villegas R, Gao YT, Yang G et al. Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:162-7.

Nanri A, Mizoue T, Takahashi Y et al. Soy product and isoflavone intakes are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in overweight Japanese women. J Nutr 2010;140:580-6.

Azadbakht L, Esmaillzadeh A. Soy-protein consumption and kidney-related biomarkers among type 2 diabetics: a crossover, randomized clinical trial. J Ren Nutr 2009;19:479-86.

Teixeira SR, Tappenden KA, Carson L et al. Isolated soy protein consumption reduces urinary albumin excretion and improves the serum lipid profile in men with type 2 diabetes mellitus and nephropathy. J Nutr 2004;134:1874-80.

Miraghajani MS, Najafabadi MM, Surkan PJ, Esmaillzadeh A, Mirlohi M, Azadbakht L. Soy Milk Consumption and Blood Pressure Among Type 2 Diabetic Patients With Nephropathy. J Ren Nutr 2013;10.