A new study has found that low-fat vegan diets induced a greater improvement in insulin sensitivity and a larger reduction in total daily insulin dose than a portion-controlled diet for adults with type 1 diabetes.

The study, published in Clinical Diabetes and titled “Effect of a Dietary Intervention on Insulin Requirements and Glycemic Control in Type 1 Diabetes: A 12-Week Randomized Clinical Trial”, found that a low-fat vegan diet for 12 weeks reduced total daily insulin needs for adults with type 1 diabetes, and was linked to greater drops in total and HDL cholesterol than a portion-controlled diet. 

The researchers ran a single-centre randomised clinical trial that enrolled 58 adults aged 18 years and older with type 1 diabetes and a stable insulin regimen for at least 3 months. Participants were randomly assigned to eat a low-fat vegan diet consisting of vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits or a portion-controlled diet with individualized eating plans that reduced daily energy intake by 500 kcal to 1,000 kcal per day while keeping carbohydrate intake stable.

Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, told Healio, “With type 1 diabetes rates projected to possibly increase more than 100% in the next 15 years and the cost of insulin remaining stubbornly high, physicians should counsel patients with type 1 diabetes to try a low-fat vegan diet to not only help reduce their insulin requirements, but to reduce their heart disease risk and improve their overall health…We knew from our previous research studies that a low-fat vegan diet improved insulin sensitivity, lowered weight and improved cardiovascular health in people with type 2 diabetes, so we were hopeful that we would see similar improvements in patients with type 1 diabetes…We were pleased to see how dramatically a low-fat vegan diet improved insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin needs in people with type 1 diabetes.”

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.