Trending Clinical Topic: Vegan Diet

Ryan Syrek

Disclosures

September 27, 2019

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

News out of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2019 Annual Meeting further expounds on previous evidence regarding the benefits of plant-based diets and resulted in this week's top trending clinical topic. A randomized controlled trial in overweight/obese adults found that a low-fat vegan diet causes gut microbiota changes that are related to altered body composition and insulin sensitivity. Participants who followed a vegan diet lost about 1 pound per week on average. They also had an increased presence of the commensal bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii; lower amounts are found in patients with diabetes.

This supports the findings of a large meta-analysis published earlier this year, which found that middle-aged people who ate more plant-based foods were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their peers who ate more meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. The researchers do acknowledge that the evidence does not directly show cause and effect, but it does suggest a possible role for vegetarianism and veganism in protecting against diabetes.

Findings are similar in regard to the risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD). A community-based cohort study found that a diet favoring plant-based foods modestly reduces CKD risk, provided that individuals are not overweight or obese. Given all of that, increased interest in vegan diets is not surprising. For example, the number of vegan Brits has quadrupled over the past 4 years. Although the United States has not seen a similar increase, information about substantial health benefits has the potential to change that. At the very least, the recent news about vegan diets captured plenty of attention from medical professionals, becoming this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more about type 2 diabetes prevention and CKD risk factors.

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