To reverse diabetes might seem a dream to many. Generally, people with diabetes find themselves on a road leading toward gradually increasing weight, slowly rising blood sugar, higher doses of medications and worsening complications.
To treat diabetes with healing foods means to reverse this trend. To what extent?
It takes years, even decades, for your body to get to the point where it
can't keep blood sugar under control on its own. The good news is that
the slow journey towards diabetes may be redirected at any point along
the path. The earlier you start, of course, the easier and more
effectively you can change direction.
Treating and preventing diabetes with foods involves more than just eating a few good foods now and then. It's really a whole diet approach in which all the separate element - fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and so forth - come together in one good plan.
The treatment of diabetes can be approached from two different, but complimentary, directions:
There's no doubt that what you eat is one of the major contributors to diabetes. Here are some ways food can affect the development of diabetes:
In any diabetes diet, sugar and sugary foods are always seen as the main villains and to be avoided at all costs. Although sugary foods are no doubt part of the problem, very often another, even more dangerous culprit is overlooked: the wrong type of fat.
And, as we've seen on a previous page, eating the wrong type of fat is one of the major contributors to developing diabetes.
Consider this study:
In 1979, researchers at the University of Kentucky studied 20 men with type 2 diabetes, all of whom had been taking an average of 26 units of insulin per day. The experimental diet included plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, so it was high in fiber and carbohydrates. The diet was nearly vegetarian, with very little animal fat - in fact, very little fat of any kind.
After just 16 days on the program, more than half of the men were able to stop taking insulin entirely, and their blood sugar levels were lower than before. For the remaining men, insulin doses were cut dramatically.
Another study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, enrolled 197 men in a 3-week diet change and exercise program. The results were pretty much the same. Of this group, 140 were able to discontinue their medications.
A recent study at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center found that eating an extra 40 g. of fat a day - as found in a 4 oz (115 g) fast food hamburger and large fries - triples your odds of developing diabetes.
Excessive fat in the diet, especially saturated animal fat, seems to damage insulin's effectiveness.
Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia took cells from muscles of older non-diabetic men and women undergoing surgery.
They measured the saturated fatty acids in the cell membranes and tested the patients for insulin resistance.
They found that the more saturated fats in cells, the greater the insulin resistance.
On the other hand, higher tissue levels of polyunsaturated fats,
particularly fish oil, indicated better insulin activity and less
Jennifer Lovejoy, Ph.D, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, studied the eating habits and insulin activity of 45 non-diabetic men and women, half with normal weight and half obese. Both being obese and eating more fat increased insulin resistance.
a series of research studies conducted by Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D.,
and his team with Georgetown University and George Washington University
in Washington, D.C., proved that it is possible to completely reverse
diabetes with a simple set of diet changes, basically, eliminating any
type of animal fat from the diet.
They carried out several studies that showed how eating fatty foods affects the functioning of the cells. Cells need small amounts of fat that the mitochondria use to convert into energy. But if fat accumulates inside the cell, this interferes with insulin's ability to work. Even slim people can have this kind of fat accumulating inside their cells, which is paving the way for diabetes.
Diabetes diets are not normally designed to alter what goes on inside the cells. They tend to compensate for the problem but not reverse it. They limit the amount of sugar and carbohydrates that is ingested but don't increase the cell's ability to handle glucose.
Studies carried out on people following a vegan diet (which excludes all types of animal fats - meat, eggs, dairy products, etc.) found that their intracellular fat was 31% lower than in people eating those foods.
Conclusion: The more you limit animal fats of any kind, the more you increase your cell's ability to handle glucose.
What if you're not prepared to cut out ALL animal fat? How about fish?
Studies reveal that eating fish may actually cut in half your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Dutch researchers at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection tested 175 normal healthy elderly men and women to be sure they were free of both diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, a condition that often foreshadows diabetes.
Four years later when they repeated the test, they found many cases of impaired glucose tolerance but interestingly, only 25% of those who regularly ate fish had developed the problem, compared with 45% of non-fish eaters.
The researchers concluded that fish eaters were only about half as likely to develop diabetes as non-fish eaters. The amount of fish needed for protection was extremely small - a mere 1 oz (30 g.) a day of lean, fatty or canned fish.
Bottom line: Cutting down on saturated dairy and animal fats and eating more fish of any kind may help stave off diabetes.
Generally speaking, people who try to control diabetes with diet, tend to avoid rice, beans, pasta and all the other high-carb foods and load on chicken, fish, and eggs, as these foods have no carbs.
But over the long run, though, they find that their blood sugar does not improve, but it gets worse, so they need more and more medications.
The fact is, your body needs carbohydrates because they can easily be turned into its preferred fuel: glucose.
Carbohydrates such as whole grains are a major source of B vitamins, iron and fiber, as well as the trace mineral chromium, which is thought to help cells use insulin.
Indeed, studies show that eating whole grains lowers the risk of diabetes as well as that of heart disease and stroke.
Carbohydrates are also protein sparing, which means that the body uses them first for energy and leaves protein to be used for body repair and other important functions.
If you substitute proteins for carbs in your diet, apart from losing all these benefits, you will be getting a lot of saturated fat as well, and that, in the long run, is only going to make matters worse.
Eating whole grains will ensure that you eat only foods that cause a gentle rise in glucose in your bloodstream and preventing panic reaction in your system at the same time.
So, what you need to do: To make sure you're getting the right amount and the right type of carbs, fill up a quarter of your plate with whole grains.
Read the section on What are Whole Grains?
In conclusion, it is possible to reverse diabetes with the right diet. By following the advice you find on this and the other articles in this series, you'll soon see a huge difference in your health.
Now you may want to know whether there are specific healing foods that can actually stimulate the activity of insulin and the ability of the cells to take up glucose, so click on NEXT to read about them or go back to the Treatment of Diabetes main page to select another article.
Watch this video to learn about a Simple 3-Step Approach To Totally Reverse Type 2 Diabetics