Going vegan can prevent overweight adults from developing type 2 diabetes, an 'important' new study has concluded.
Following a plant-based diet can boost insulin sensitivity - considered the driving factor of the potentially deadly condition, in fat people.
And scientists also found being vegan, which is soaring in popularity, can improve beta-cell function - which store and release insulin.
It is believed the benefits of the diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables and legumes, stems from tackling bulging waistlines and aiding weight loss.
The study, led by researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington DC, adds to the health benefits of a vegan diet.
Dr Hana Kahleova, lead author of the trial conducted on patients without diabetes, said: 'The study has important implications for diabetes prevention.
Following a plant-based diet can boost insulin sensitivity - considered the driving factor of the potentially deadly condition, in fat people
'Fortunately, this study adds to the growing evidence that food really is medicine and that eating a healthful plant-based diet can go a long way in preventing diabetes.'
Often thought of as harmless, type 2 diabetes is a hidden killer and can lead to heart failure, blindness, kidney disease and leg amputations.
It is caused by having too much glucose in the blood because the body's way of turning it into energy is not working properly.
As the condition progresses, sufferers often need to maintain a healthy diet, exercise and a combination of medications to manage it.
Someone's life expectancy with type 2 diabetes is likely to be reduced as a result of the condition, by up to 10 years, it is believed.
The condition strikes around 30 million Americans, while in the UK there are 3.8 million diabetes patients in the UK - with 90 per cent having type 2.
Researchers assigned 75 participants - who were overweight and had no history of diabetes - into two groups.
Half followed a low-fat vegan diet for 16 weeks, based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The others made no dietary changes.
Neither group changed their exercise routines, according to the study published in the journal Nutrients.
Using mathematical models, researchers calculated those on a vegan diet had an increase in insulin secretion after eating meals.
They also had a better beta-cell glucose sensitivity - another marker of the condition - compared to those in the control group.
Vegan participants also experienced a decrease in blood sugar levels while fasting and during meal tests. Such levels often spike in patients at-risk of diabetes.
The researchers concluded that vegans experienced weight loss following the diet, which gave them the benefits noted.
The new findings add to the existing portfolio of evidence that highlights the health benefits of adopting a vegan diet and cutting out meat.
It has previously been found to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and slash the risk of the world's leading killer - heart disease.WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR DIABETES PATIENTS TO MEASURE THEIR GLUCOSE LEVELS?
Diabetes is a serious life-long condition that occurs when the amount of sugar in the blood is too high because the body can't use it properly.
Patients have to regular monitor their glucose levels to prevent them from developing any potentially fatal complications.
Type 1 diabetes patients are often recommended to test their blood sugar at least four times a day. For type 2 patients, doctors advise to test twice a day.
Blood glucose levels should be between the ranges of 3.5–5.5mmol/L before meals and less than 8mmol/L, two hours after meals.
Diabetes patients have to regular monitor their glucose levels to prevent them from developing any potentially fatal complications
Hypoglycemia (when blood sugar drops below 4 mmol/L) can occasionally lead to patients falling into comas in severe cases.
However, it most often can be treated through eating or drinking 15-20g of fast acting carbohydrate, such 200ml of Lucozade Energy Original.
Sufferers can tell they are experiencing a hypo when they suddenly feel tired, have difficulty concentrating or feel dizzy.
Type 1 diabetes patients are more likely to experience a hypo, because they rely of the medications they take, including insulin.
Hyperglycemia (when blood sugar is above 11.0 mmol/L two hours after a meal) can also have life-threatening complications.
It happens when the body either has too little insulin, seen in type 1, or it can't use its supply properly, most often in type 2.
In the short-term, it can lead including ketoacidosis - which causes ketones to be released into the body.
If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to long-term complications, such as impotence and amputations of limbs.
Regular exercise can help to lower blood sugar levels over time, and following a healthy diet and proper meal planning can also avoid dangerous spikes.