HealthDay News — For patients with diabetic neuropathy, a vegan diet may help with weight loss and pain relief, results of a study published in Nutrition & Diabetes suggest.
Diabetic neuropathy occurs in to 60% of patients with type 2 diabetes and is associated with significant combordities such as amputations, anxiety, and reduced quality of life. Paint occurs in 15% to 30% of patients, according to Cameron Wells, MPH, RD, acting director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., and colleagues.
Previous studies have linked plant-based dietary interventions to improved glycemic control and other factors associated with type 2 diabetes and its complications.
To investigate the efficacy of a plant-based diet intervention on diabetic neuropathy pain, the researchers recruited 34 patients with type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Half of the patients were assigned to follow a vegan diet and take a vitamin B12 supplement; the other half took the supplement but continued with their normal diets. The intervention group was asked to limit themselves to 20 to 30 grams of fat per day and increase low glycemic index foods; they were also offered weekly classes for support in following the vegan diet.
After about five months, the vegan group had lost 15 pounds, on average, versus about one pound in the comparison group. Patients in the intervention group also reported bigger improvements on a standard pain-rating survey, noted the investigators.
“In just 20 weeks, we had people lose weight, see their blood sugar levels drop and their pain improve,” Wells told HealthDay. “Sometimes doctors are quick to rely on medications, but diet can make a big difference.”