A vegan diet might help people with diabetes-related nerve damage shed weight and find some pain relief, a small pilot study suggests.
Vegan diets are free of all animal products, including eggs and dairy. Instead, people get their protein, fat and all other nutrients from foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, fruit and plant-based oils.
In the new study, researchers tested whether a vegan diet could help people with type 2 diabetes and painful nerve damage in their feet or hands.
The investigators found that over 20 weeks, the 17 people they assigned to the diet lost an average of 15 pounds. At the same time, blood flow to their feet improved and their pain eased up.
Experts said the findings, reported May 25 in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, highlight the importance of healthy eating and weight loss for people with type 2 diabetes.
But it’s not clear that you have to go vegan to do that.
“It’s hard to say that it’s this particular diet, itself,” said Dr. Maria Pena, an endocrinologist and weight-management specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.