Thanks go to Marika Sboros for this week’s note. She alerted me to a paper that was published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care journal (Ref 1). The lead author was Anastasios Toumpanakis from the University of London. The paper was covered by international media with the United Press International reporting “Vegan diet may boost mental, physical heath of diabetics" (Ref 2). The UK Daily Mail headline was “Vegan diet ‘can boost mood and ease symptoms for those with Type 2 diabetics’, scientists say” (Ref 3). My quick glance comment back to Marika made two points: 1) I challenged the number of trials upon which the researchers claimed to have based their findings (more on that to follow) and 2) The trials reported in the paper compared a plant-based (vegan) diet with the respective country's advice for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) (whether in Korea, Italy, Europe or America). The following two conclusions could be reached from a plant-based diet seemingly doing better than official T2D advice: i) The standard advice for T2D must be pretty bad if a nutritionally deficient vegan diet can beat it. ii) A vegan diet rules out ice cream, sweets, chocolate, most biscuits, cakes, most takeaways and fast foods. This would have health benefits in the short term. The nutritional deficiencies would likely take longer than the trials allowed to become symptomatic. I then took a longer look at the paper for today’s note and it turned out to be one of those “how did it get through peer-review?” papers.
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