What is Veganism?
According to the Vegan Society, 'veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Vegans follow a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey – as well as products like leather and any tested on animals'.
People may choose to turn to veganism for a variety of reasons, including animal welfare, or even its numerous health benefits. But is a vegan diet sufficient to help with managing blood sugar levels?
Vegan diets are intrinsically lower in saturated fats, higher in fibre and provide a good amount of antioxidants and micronutrients. But what most people question is if a vegan diet can provide enough protein due to restriction of animal products, or if a vegan diet can be too high in carbohydrates.
A vegan diet can in fact provide the necessary amount of protein that is required by an average adult. Foods like nuts, seeds and their butters can be good sources of protein, as well as soya products like tofu, soy milk, and soy cheese.
Beans and pulses also do contain a fair amount of protein, but what does need to be acknowledged is that a vegan diet can result in an increased intake of carbohydrates. A vegan diet that is fibre rich can also help to manage glucose levels in the blood, so as to control overall blood sugar levels as well.
With a vegan diet, chances of weight loss are higher as compared to a non-vegan diet. This means that there is an increased level of blood sugar control and can help to reduce the risks of diabetes related complications.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are useful at preventing and managing diabetes in a number of ways. They encourage losing weight, particularly visceral fat, which enhances insulin sensitivity. They are mostly high in soluble fibre, which delays the absorption of glucose.
Micronutrient content in plant foods is very high, particularly magnesium, which is linked to better glucose metabolism. It's crucial to include a variety of unprocessed whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables to get the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet.
On a plant-based diet, portion size, diversity, and balance are also crucial factors to take into account. To promote health, whole foods frequently collaborate with one another. Each meal should include a variety of foods to provide a wholesome, balanced meal that can in turn help with the management of blood sugar levels.
So, if you are someone who is interested in dipping your toes into a vegan lifestyle, but would also like to know how to manage blood sugar levels alongside, here’s a few important things to remember.
• Concentrate on including foods rather than eliminating them. Work to reduce meat consumption first, followed by other animal products, and strive to include more plant-based foods at each meal and snack.
• Constantly strive for a diet high in whole foods and try to eat as little as you can of foods that are processed and packaged.
• Eat the rainbow. Include a range of plant-based foods in your meals and learn how to incorporate macronutrients into your diet. In addition to having the ideal ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for satiety, doing this delivers a lot of antioxidants, and other health benefits.
• Although plant proteins like soy contain carbohydrates as well, the amino acids and other micronutrients they contain can help with glycemic control and insulin sensitivity.
Finally, keep in mind that no one diet suits everybody. That holds true for plant-based diets as well.