Plant Protein for Diabetics
While protein is one of the 3 major energy-producing macronutrients, along with fat and carbohydrate, and essential for growing new tissues, building muscles, and repairing damages to the body, plant proteins offer a significant protective role to diabetics.
Diabetes is a silent global epidemic nowadays, and the prevalence of diabetes especially type 2 diabetes is rising rapidly particularly in low- and middle-income countries. According to a study conducted by researchers of the University of Eastern Finland, a diet that included a higher level of plant proteins can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In this article, we’ll discuss what plant proteins are, how they’re linked with diabetes, and how they can help people who have diabetes. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What are plant proteins?
- The link between protein and blood glucose
- How do plant proteins help diabetics?
- Benefits of plant proteins
- A common concern about plant protein
- Final words
What are plant proteins?
Plant proteins are simply meaningful food sources of protein that are from plants. This group may include vegetables, legumes, nuts, and certain seeds and grains. Some processed foods such as Tofu also contain plant proteins.
Here’s a detailed list of different sources of plant proteins.
- Vegetables – brussels, corn, broccoli, potato, spinach, and asparagus contain higher amounts of protein, but the one with the most is the peas.
- Pulses – lentils, chickpeas, split peas, peanuts, and mung beans.
- Nuts – cashew, walnut, pecan, almond, Brazil nut, hazelnut, pistachio, and more.
- Beans – kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, adzuki beans, etc.
- Seeds – flax, sunflower, chia, poppy, hemp, squash, etc.
- Processed – texturized vegetable protein (TVP), tempeh, and tofu.
Plant proteins are linked to many health benefits including reducing body weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People who intake plant proteins on a regular basis tend to have a lower risk of diabetes, stroke, and death from heart diseases compared to others who do not intake plant proteins regularly.
The link between protein and blood glucose
In addition to being a major constituent part of each cell of human bodies, protein can also produce energy through a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis. In this metabolic pathway, protein molecules are broken down into sugars, also known as glucose, and used for energy.
Glucose is the main and sometimes even the only energy source used by several parts of the body such as the brain, erythrocytes, testes, and the kidney medulla.
Protein molecules can be broken down into sugars by the body and the process is more likely to occur when someone is in fasting, starvation, or having intense exercise, or even having a less carbohydrate diet.
Protein molecules are broken down into sugars less efficiently compared to carbohydrate molecules, and therefore, the effects of protein metabolism on blood glucose levels tend to occur only after a few hours of eating.
People who are diabetics should be aware of the effects of protein while considering having a largely protein-based meal. It’s highly recommended to learn how your blood sugar levels react to such protein-based meals and consult with your doctor so that your doctor can determine the right insulin or medication dose for you.
How do plant proteins help diabetics?
While type 2 diabetes can be managed by diet and exercise alone, nutritional management is critical for diabetics. Observational researches strongly acknowledge the role of plant-based diets, especially plant-based proteins, in lowering the risk of T2D or type 2 diabetes.
Including plant protein shakes in daily diets schedule can be an effective tool for preventing and managing diabetes naturally. Here’re a few most common benefits of plant proteins.
Benefits of plant proteins
Reduce the risk of T2D or type 2 diabetes – according to studies conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, eating a plant-based diet rich in plant protein may lower the risk of developing T2D or type 2 diabetes. While most animal proteins are found to enhance the risk of type 2 diabetes, plant proteins may offer a preventive role.
Reduce blood glucose levels – plant proteins are typically nutrient-dense and they are broken into sugars less efficiently in the body than carbs. As a result, plant protein can lead to more stable blood glucose levels than carbohydrate-rich foods.
Reduce cholesterol levels – plant proteins are free from trans fats and saturated fats that’re often associated with animal fats. Therefore, intaking plant proteins on a regular basis helps lower total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
Reduce the risk of other chronic diseases – as per several reports, plant proteins can reduce the risk of several choric diseases such as heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, and high blood pressure.
Help in weight loss – weight loss is often an important part of the treatment plan for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Plant proteins can help people lower their body fats and lose weight without producing any side effects.
A Common concern about plant protein
Though there’re many benefits of taking plant proteins through vegan diets, it’s essential to make sure that you’re getting all of the major nutrients you require, especially vitamin D, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin, C, vitamin, E, and vitamin B 12.
Besides, there’s no plant source for vitamin B 12 which is considered a key nutrient needed to maintain stable blood glucose levels in the body. People who live on a plant-based diet often experience vitamin B 12 deficiency.
This problem can be solved by taking supplements or sometimes nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, and fortified vegetable milk. Whenever you want to consider choosing a plant protein supplement, you should obviously check whether the supplement contains essential nutrients, and most importantly vitamin B 12.
You can consider choosing Vorst’s natural and pure Plant Protein Powder with Multivitamins that contains all of the key nutrients including vitamin B 12.
Plant protein can be a great tool for people who want to prevent diabetes. Besides, diabetics can also get many health benefits from the regular use of plant protein supplements.
Disclaimer – This article contains only educational information intended to general awareness, hence, doesn’t contain any medical advice. Always seek professional help from a licensed medical practitioner before using any part of this article.