More than 100 million people today have diabetes or pre-diabetes. A recent study conducted by a team of American and Japanese researchers shows that people who have diabetes can vastly improve their health by eating an entirely plant-based diet. (1) During my work with people who have diabetes, I have found they show remarkable improvement in their health and well-being from consuming a plant-based and almost completely raw-food diet. Dr. Gabriel Cousens promotes a mostly raw food, vegan diet in his 2008 book, There Is a Cure for Diabetes. (2)
Diabetics who would like to reduce their medications can now understand that the type of food they eat has a direct impact on their health. In 2014, Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy published a study in which researchers performed a meta-analysis of six significant prior research studies. Researchers found that a plant-based diet significantly improved blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetes. The results were that plant-based diets improved a key indicator of blood sugar control, an indicator called Hemoglobin A1c. The results improved as much as 1.2 points, which is much greater than the effect of typical oral diabetes medicines. (3) The benefits of excluding meat, cheese, and eggs from the diet was as much as 0.7 points in some of the studies, and averaged 0.4 points overall. (4)
Dr. James Anderson studied 25 Type 1 and 25 Type 2 diabetics. This study involved placing the patients on a high-fiber, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in a hospital setting. Dr. Anderson initially put the patients on the American Diabetes Association recommended Reversirol diet plan for one week. Then he switched them over to a vegetarian, plant-based diet for three weeks. None of these patients were overweight when they started the study, but they were on insulin shots to control their blood sugar levels. All through the study, Dr. Anderson measured their blood sugar levels, their cholesterol levels, their medications, and their weight. Type 1 diabetics cannot produce insulin, and it was thought that dietary changes would not affect this situation. But, the results showed that after three weeks on a vegetarian, whole-food, high-fiber diet, the “Type 1 diabetics were able to lower their insulin medication by an average of 40%”, “their blood sugar profiles improved dramatically”, and their “cholesterol levels dropped by 30%.” (5)
These results were more impressive with the Type 2 diabetics who had not incurred as much damage to their pancreas. After three weeks on the high-fiber, vegetarian diet, 24 of the 25 Type 2 diabetics could discontinue their insulin medication completely. The one Type 2 diabetic who wasn’t able to get off his medication had been a 25-year diabetic taking 35 units per day. After three weeks of vegetarian food, his requirement dropped down to only eight units per day. As he continued the vegetarian eating plan at home, he was able to cut out all insulin shots after another eight weeks. (6)
With a plant-based diet, you normally have more fiber in your diet. Studies have shown that eating more plant-based whole food increases your dietary fiber intake. This can be extremely important to “protect from development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, some gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, obesity, and non-insulin-dependent dishes. Furthermore, increasing fiber intake provides therapeutic advantages for management of high blood lipids, certain gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.” (7)
Besides adopting a plant-based diet, diabetics can take six important dietary actions to regulate their blood sugar and support their health: chromium, cinnamon, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, zinc, and unrefined (mineral-rich) sea salt.
The mineral chromium helps transport glucose from blood to muscles. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in the body. (8) People who eat non-organic foods have a greater likelihood of being deficient in this important trace mineral. The chemical fertilizers used in industrial farming destroy chromium that would naturally be in the soil. This is one of many reasons organic food is always the best choice at the grocery store.
Chromium supplements should have GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor) on the label. It should say, “Chromium GTF”. Avoid synthetic supplements that don’t list whole, organic food as the ingredients.
Cinnamon is emerging as a true wonder food. Research shows that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon contains antioxidants that create healthier arteries and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cinnamon can also benefit us with increased alertness and energized senses. Even a teaspoon a day helps tame blood sugar levels.
Ceylon cinnamon is the best cinnamon to use. Cassia, Saigon, and Chinese cinnamon contain five percent coumarin, which is problematic for the liver. Ceylon cinnamon has only.0004 percent coumarin. Sprinkle it on your morning toast, oatmeal, or other dishes.