Skip to content

The #1 Best Eating Habit to Prevent Diabetes, New Study Suggests

You may want to skip the spare ribs.
FACT CHECKED BY Kristen Warfield

There are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. For instance, you can cut back on added sugars, you can add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, you can manage your stress, and you can keep up a regular exercise routine, to name a few.

Now, new evidence suggests that it could be worth rethinking your whole diet. Specifically, a new study finds that eating a healthy, plant-based diet is linked with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

In the study, published earlier this month in the journal Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, researchers looked at plasma metabolite profiles (a way of measuring metabolites) of more than 10,000 people.

veggie burger broccoli slaw

Related: The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science

They found that the profiles of people who stuck to plant-based diets, especially those whose plant-based diets consisted of healthier foods, were linked with lower odds of getting the disease.

"This is a fascinating study that adds more evidence to the ever-growing database on the reduction of risk for type 2 diabetes with a whole food, plant-based diet,"  Julieanna Hever, MS RD CPT, author of The Choose You Now Diet and Plant-based Nutrition (Idiot's Guide), tells Eat This, Not That! "With each new study, we learn more about the myriad mechanisms of action by which a plant-based diet is so effective at improving type 2 diabetes, which is a diagnosis that causes immense suffering in hundreds of millions of people around the globe."

The study specified that the plasma metabolite profiles of those who kept to a healthy plant-based diet were more strongly linked with lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those whose plant-based diet was unhealthy.

While having a diet that includes a wide range of nutritious foods can certainly have a positive effect on your health, some nutritionists warn against thinking of food in terms and black-or-white as "healthy" and "unhealthy."

"One thing I encourage everyone who starts plant-based eating is to not be strict on yourself," Rhyan Geiger, RDN, owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, tells Eat This, Not That! "When we are strict and don't allow ourselves to have things that are 'unhealthy,' it can create a damaging relationship with food and lead us to want it even more. Having a nice balance of high nutrient-rich foods and less nutrient-rich foods can lead to overall higher satisfaction with the foods we are eating."

For more tips on how to lower your risk of the disease, check out these Eating Habits You Must Follow If Diabetes Runs in Your Family.

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more about Clara