New research suggests that even a short-term vegan diet can boost the gut microbes that are related to improvements in body weight, body composition and blood glucose management. Gut microbiota play an important role in weight regulation, the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Researchers tested the effect of a 16-week plant-based diet on gut microbiota composition, body weight, body composition, and insulin resistance in overweight adults with no history of diabetes. Results showed significant reduction in body weight in the vegan group, particularly due to a reduction in fat mass and in visceral fat. Insulin sensitivity also increased significantly in the vegan group.
The research was presented at this year’s Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (16-20 September). The study is by Dr Hana Kahleova, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), Washington, DC, USA, and colleagues. The study can be found here: Fat Quantity and Quality, as Part of a Low-Fat, Vegan Diet, Are Associated with Changes in Body Composition, Insulin Resistance, and Insulin Secretion. A 16-Week Randomized Controlled Trial.
The study included 147 participants (86% women and 14% men; mean age was 55.6±11.3 years), who were randomised to follow a low-fat vegan diet (n=73) or to make no changes to their diet (n=74) for 16 weeks. At baseline and 16 weeks, gut microbiota composition was assessed, using uBiome kits. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to measure body composition. A standard method called the PREDIM index was used to assess insulin sensitivity.