What's the first thing you do after you clear your plate? Likely, you either return to your desk to work or plop down onto the couch to digest. However, sitting down to digest your last meal can have negative effects on your body, specifically your blood sugar levels. New research shows that taking just a two-minute walk after eating provides significant health benefits, including lowering your risk of diabetes.

While it is conventional wisdom that walking after eating helps with digestion, researchers found that even the slightest amount of exercise offers substantial health benefits. Published in Sports Medicine, the new paper concluded that a few minutes of exercise can lower your blood sugar levels enough to help curb the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The study also notes that even standing can help with digestion.

“Standing did have a small benefit,” Graduate student at the University of Limerick in Ireland and co-author of the paperAidan Buffey said to The New York Times. He claimed that “light-intensity walking was a superior intervention” when compared to sitting.

To conduct this study, the researchers examines the results of seven studies that compared how sitting measured against walking regarding heart health – focused specifically on insulin and blood sugar levels. The participants of the study were required to stand or walk between two to five minutes at 30-minute increments over the entire day. Over the course of the study, the minimal movement correlated with lower blood sugar levels.

“Moving even a little bit is worthwhile and can lead to measurable changes, as these studies showed, in your health markers,” Euan Ashley, a cardiologist at Stanford University unaffiliated with the study, said to the New York Times.

Eating Plant-Based Can Help Prevent Diabetes

Getting a little exercise will help aid digestion and lower blood sugar levels, but it is important to watch how different foods can cause negative effects and even increase your risk for diabetes and other diseases. This April, one study found that eating healthy plant-based foods can help lower the risk for Type 2 diabetes. With Type 2 diabetes cases expected to surpass 700 million globally by 2045, adding more plant-based foods could slow down this spike.

“While it is difficult to tease out the contributions of individual foods because they were analyzed together as a pattern, individual metabolites from consumption of polyphenol-rich plant foods like fruits, vegetables, coffee, and legumes are all closely linked to a healthy plant-based diet and lower risk of diabetes,” Lead Author of the Study and Professor Frank Hu said.

Another study found that regularly eating processed or red meats increases the risk of diabetes by 33 percent. However, removing meat from your diet is the first. Research has shown that whole grains, soybeans, lentils, beans, and nuts can help stay healthy, improve weight management, and offer protective nutrients.

Exercising on a Vegan Diet Helps You Stay Healthy

Despite misconceptions about plant-based eating and exercise, keeping a vegan diet can actually help you at the gym. Most skeptics linger on how vegans are more prone to bone fractures than meat-eaters, but this week, a new study found that vegans who weight lift have similar bone strength to omnivores (or meat eaters).

Exercising daily on a vegan diet does not mean you will not build muscle as easily as well. This January, researchers from the University of Sao Paulo found that plant-based protein can build muscle as well as animal-based whey.

By exercising regularly and eating plant-based, consumers will see several other major health benefits beyond diabetes prevention. Plant-based eating can lower inflammation, reduce cancer risk, and improve cardiovascular health. Those who stay mobile and add more plant-based foods to their diets can greatly improve digestion and gut health.

For more of the latest studies, visit The Beet's Health & Nutrition articles

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