Chronic diseases place a financial burden on the United States and claim the lives of nearly 2 million Americans every year. Among the chronic diseases that plague American people, type 2 diabetes is particularly prevalent and injurious. Thus, action is warranted to improve prevention and management of this disease. Nutrition plays a significant role in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. Registered dietitians, as nutrition experts, are qualified to use medical nutrition therapy as a method of prevention and treatment for chronic diseases using a nutritional approach. However, there is no consensus as to which eating pattern is the most efficacious. The aim of this review of research was to examine how plant-based eating patterns impact chronic disease conditions, with an emphasis on type 2 diabetes mellitus, as compared to omnivorous eating patterns. A literature search was conducted through the ASU Library, PubMed, and CINAHL using terms related to plant-based diets and chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. The results revealed that a plant-based eating pattern may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of certain chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Specifically, adults who have type 2 diabetes and consume a plant-based diet may exhibit enhanced glycemic control as evidenced by less insulin resistance, increased incretin and insulin secretion, greater insulin sensitivity, and improved HbA1c levels. There is sufficient evidence for registered dietitians to recommend a plant-based approach to patients with type 2 diabetes who would like to achieve enhanced glycemic control.
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