Plant-based diets rich in whole carbohydrates can help improve type 1 diabetes (T1D), according to a pair of new case studies published in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism. 

It has been established that a plant-based diet can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to the study. Additionally, vegetarians have approximately half the risk of developing T2D compared with non-vegetarians.  

Both case studies followed individuals with T1D who adopted a plant-based diet rich in whole carbohydrates. The first study followed a female patient who was diagnosed with T1D in 2018 with an A1c of 8.7%. 

Initially, the patient adopted a low carbohydrate (less than 30 grams per day), high fat diet that was high in meat and dairy. Although blood sugar stabilized, the patient required more insulin per gram of carbohydrates consumed, according to the press release. Additionally, the patient’s cholesterol increased from 175 to 221 mg/dl. In January 2019, the patient eliminated dairy products, eggs, and meat from her diet. The patient was able to decrease her insulin dosage and her cholesterol dropped to 158 mg/dl. Additionally, her A1c stabilized at 5.4%. 

The second case study followed a 42-year-old man who was diagnosed with T1D at age 25. According to the press release, the patient eliminated animal products from his diet and switched to a plant- and whole food-based diet. The patient increased his carbohydrate consumption from 150 grams per day to 400-500 grams per day. After adopting the diet, the patient lost weight, reduced his A1c from 6.2% to 5.5%-5.8%, and required less insulin.   

"Decades of research has proven that a plant-based diet can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. Now, these groundbreaking case studies are offering hope that the same may be true for those with type 1 diabetes,” Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, study author and director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said in the press release. 

Randomized clinical trials are needed to verify the case study findings, according to the press release. A pervious small study found that a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet improved glycemic control in 10 people with T1D. 

Reference:
Plant-based diets high in carbs improve type 1 diabetes, according to new case studies (news release) Washington, DC, July 23, 2020, EuerkAlert! Accessed July 27, 2020