Type 2 Diabetes, the “Black Death of the 21st Century,” affects more than 20 million Americans today. That is three times more cases than in 1990.
Diabetes Mellitus comes from chronically elevated levels of Glucose (simple sugar) in the bloodstream, which can overwhelm the kidneys and spill into the urine. It causes 50,000 cases/year of kidney failure, 75,000 cases/year of lower extremity amputations, 650,000 cases/year of vision loss, and 75,000 deaths per year.
Apart from those statistics, diabetic patients are more likely to suffer strokes and heart failure. In fact, diabetic patients without a history of coronary artery disease may have the same risk of heart attack as nondiabetic patients with coronary artery disease.
I don’t know about you, but I had always associated sugar in the diet with the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. But addressing sugar consumption is only addressing the symptom. The cause of this disease is actually due to high-fat and high-calorie diets.
Glucose is not the enemy, in fact. Glucose is the primary fuel for all of the cells in our bodies. It comes from carbohydrates, which are complex sugars. Carbohydrates break down during digestion, and glucose is released into the bloodstream. The pancreas releases insulin, which acts like a key to allow glucose to enter cells. Mitochondria within the cells use glucose to create energy.
So what happens with Type 2 Diabetes?
The pancreas still produces insulin, however something is blocking the insulin from accessing the muscle cells of the body; and that something is Saturated Fat, specifically fat from from animal sources.
The body has a certain number of fat cells, and they don’t actually increase, but they do swell when fat from the diet is added to the body. These fat calls can swell so much that they spill fat stores into the bloodstream. This is common in people who are obese, but a slim person who consumes a high-fat diet shows the same amount of free-floating fat in the bloodstream. Fat in the bloodstream can build up in the muscle cells and create toxic breakdown products, free radicals, cause inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction. This is known as LIPOTOXICITY. When a person consumes saturated fat from animal sources, insulin action and secretion is impaired within hours.
Why animal sources of fats and not just any fat source?
Palmitate, a saturated fat found in meat, dairy and eggs has been shown to create insulin resistance. Oleate, a monounsaturated fat found in nuts, olives and avocados, has been shown to protect against the negative effects of saturated fats.
Poultry is the most fattening meat, with chickens now having 2-3x more calories from fat than protein.
What if one only eats meat once a week? Here are some of the figures:
Vegetarian men decrease their odds of getting diabetes by half. Vegetarian women, by 75%. However, individuals eating a whole food, plant-based diet have no prevalence of diabetes.
Studies have now shown that damage caused by Type 2 Diabetes begins even in individuals who are Prediabetic (showing elevated blood sugar levels). They may already be experiencing organ damage. Today, many children are prediabetic and overweight. It has been recommended that children give up eating meat entirely to prevent childhood obesity. Children who consumed a vegetarian diet grew up leaner and taller.
What else is causing Type 2 Diabetes? Scientists have found “obesogenic” chemical pollutants that disrupt the metabolism and predispose one to obesity. The source of these chemicals? Contaminated food. 95% of people exposed to these chemicals received them through the consumption of animal fat. People with high levels of these pollutants have been shown to have 38x the risk of diabetes. Your own fat can be storing these chemicals in the body. Hexachlorobenzene is one of the identified chemical pollutants. The highest source=canned sardines. However, the most contaminated food source overall=SALMON. 2 dozen pesticides have been found in salmon fillets, and farmed salmon was the worst, with 10x more PCBs present. Those who don’t lose excess weight can store these harmful chemicals in the body for 50-75 years!
The good news is that Type 2 Diabetes is Preventable, Treatable, and Reversible!
First, let’s address drugs and surgery for treatment.
Blood-sugar-lowering drug therapy has shown an increase in mortality among patients. Insulin treatments accelerate aging, worsen diabetic vision loss, promote cancer, obesity and atherosclerosis. The trouble is, these treatments are looking at the symptom, and not the root of the disease. You can lower your blood sugar as much as you like, but if fat is still gunking up the works, glucose is still not able to access muscle cells and will stay in the bloodstream.
Gastric bypass surgery has shown to be just as effective, even less so, than the post-op calorie-restrictive diet, and includes risks such as bleeding, leakage, infections, erosions, herniation, and severe nutrient deficiencies.
So, calorie-restriction works, but no one wants to starve themselves.
Fortunately, studies have been done, and one can go on a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet to prevent, treat and reverse Type 2 Diabetes.
A WFPB diet increases the intakes of nearly every nutrient the body requires. Meat consumption has shown significant weight gain even after adjusting calories. However, one can eat as much as one likes on a WFPB diet. Even if one doesn’t lose weight, insulin requirements can drop by 60-100% within 16 days. Patients have been able to reduce and even go off their medications by sticking to a 90% WFPB diet. Just eating 5 cups of legumes/week has been shown to be just as effective at slimming the waist and improving blood sugar levels as calorie cutting, with the added benefits of improved cholesterol and insulin regulation. There has also been shown an improvement in mood, and the diet has proven to be easiest to adapt to long-term.
Diabetic Neuropathy occurs in up to 50% of patients.Neuropathy has been associated with trans fats, which occur naturally in meat and dairy. These trans fats can cause inflammation in the body. The inflammation and lack of blood flow can damage the nerves, and cause pain. There is no effective medical treatment, however, it has been shown that a WFPB diet can bring pain relief within 4 days, even before blood sugar levels are under control.
The body has a wonderful ability to regulate and heal itself. When one stops consuming foods that gunk up the functioning of the body and causes inflammatory responses, the body can begin to clean up and function normally.
What I am most amazed at is the quick response. People who have studied the effects of WFPB eating have seen people respond positively within just two weeks.
If anyone is suffering from obesity, prediabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes, why not try it out, as an experiment, for two weeks?
The simple diet can be something like this: An All-You-Can Eat 90% WFPB Diet.
-One big salad/day
-Bean and veggie soup
-Handful of nuts and seeds
-Fruit at every meal
-I lb. of cooked greens
-Restrict animal products (treat them like a condiment)
-Just avoid refined grains, junk food and oil (all processed foods, especially fast foods)
Or one can follow Dr. Michael Greger’s Daily Dozen List.
With all of the benefits, and no bad side-effects, why not try it out? If the end result is that one loses excess weight, feels better, has more energy, less pain, sleeps better, digests better...in essence, improves the quality of life in general...why not start now?
The main resource for this article has been How Not To Die, by Dr. Michael Greger. One can find his sources and more information on nutrition at NutritionFacts.Org. You can find a link to his Daily Dozen Sheet there as well.
The fact is that Food-Related diseases are the top causes of death and disability within the US. I have heard the illegal immigrants are breaking the nation’s healthcare budget (that is for another article to discuss), but, in fact, ¾ of the budget goes into dealing with food-related diseases. 75% of the budget goes into dealing with preventable diseases. What we put into our bodies affects our overall health. We can use food as medicine; food is that remarkable.
Follow this link to listen to an interview with Dr. Neal Barnard on Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: