Should you skip eating animal protein in favor of vegetable protein if you have type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria (a sign of kidney disease)?
No, say researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine who studied the effects of a nutritionally balanced diet in which the protein portion consisted entirely of plant protein compared to a balanced diet in which the protein portion was 60 percent animal protein and 40 percent plant protein.
The randomized crossover trial involved 17 subjects with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria who were treated with diet and exercise or with oral medications. Subjects followed either a diet whose protein portion was plant-based or one whose protein portion was animal-based for six weeks, had a washout period of four weeks and then followed the other diet for an additional six weeks.
The study found no significant differences between the diets in terms of kidney function. However, both diets had significantly positive effects on total cholesterol, A1Cs and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). The researchers note that following a healthy diet can benefit lipids, blood-glucose control and blood pressure regardless of the protein source.
—Diabetes Care, August 2002