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WVU research touts value of vegetarian diets for diabetes management

Deb Erdley
| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, 2:15 p.m.
Poblano, Sweet Potato and Mushroom Fajitas. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for the Washington Post.
Goran Kosanovic
Poblano, Sweet Potato and Mushroom Fajitas. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for the Washington Post.

Pass the celery sticks, please.

Our friends at West Virginia University are tackling wellness issues that cross state lines into Western Pennsylvania, specifically type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at WVU have looked at the relationship between vegetarian diets and diabetes outcomes. And, surprise, they found that a diet based on whole plants can play a critical role in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a costly and deadly epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association about 16 percent of the adult population of West Virginia suffers from some type of diabetes, while 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s adults have the disease. Managing diabetes, which is among the leading causes of stroke, heart disease, blindness and amputation is a challenge.

Rachel Wattick, a WVU doctoral student specializing in social and behavioral sciences, investigated the association between a range of vegetarian diets and diabetes outcomes and — no surprise — found that your mother was right when she told you to “eat your vegetables.”

Looking at numerous studies in peer-reviewed literature, Wattick found that a wide range of vegetarian diets studied indicated that a diet that relied on vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and other plant-based foods low in saturated fat lowered the risk of developing diabetes. Such diets also were associated with healthier blood-sugar levels, lower body weight and reduced dependence on insulin and other diabetes medications.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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