Preventing, Controlling, and Reversing Diabetes


 By Sharon L. Wallenberg


Worldwide about 200 million people have diabetes.  Diabetes is diagnosed when someone experiences fatigue, is loosing water rapidly and has excessive thirst.  The reason for this is that sugar, glucose, is not able to pass from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.  Glucose is the energy source that powers everything: thoughts and movements.  When cells are deprived of glucose for energy, fatigue is experienced.  The sugar (glucose) that cannot enter the cells remains in the bloodstream where it becomes very concentrated.  Excess glucose then passes through the kidneys and becomes urine taking with it copious amounts of water causing loss of fluids.  This is often accompanied with weight loss.  The weight loss indicates that the cells are starving.  When a Doctor takes a blood sample, and finds an unusually high level of glucose, then Type Two Diabetes is diagnosed.


There are two types of Diabetes.  Type One Diabetes is less common than Type Two Diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and invariably treated with insulin.  It is also called childhood onset diabetes and insulin dependent diabetes.  Unlike people with Type Two Diabetes, people with Type One Diabetes always need to take insulin.  However, they can use diet and lifestyle changes to keep doses to a minimum and reduce risk of complication.   Type One Diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.  The immune system is not supposed to attack healthy body tissues, but when it does it is called autoimmune disease.  Genes are not solely responsible for this phenomenon.  Identical twins have proven this.  Often only one twin has Type One Diabetes while the other twin does not have diabetes.


In 1992, a team of Canadian and Finish researchers published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on children newly diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.  Blood samples from the children showed that they had antibodies which were primed to attack cow’s milk proteins, a biochemical match for a portion of human insulin producing cells.  These antibodies were also capable of attacking the body’s insulin producing cells.  In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report.  Based on their studies, they determined that the risk of Type One Diabetes could be reduced if infants were not exposed to cow’s milk.  Dr. Benjamin Spock and Dr. Neil Barnard held a Press Conference to inform the public of these findings.


Insulin is produced in the pancreas.  It is a hormone that is released into the blood stream and travels to various cells in the body.  Like a key sliding into a lock, insulin attaches to a receptor on the cell’s surface and causes it to allow glucose to enter in.  Diabetes occurs when insulin cannot manage to get the cell to allow the glucose to enter in.  Instead the glucose remains outside the cell in the bloodstream.  This is called insulin resistance.  There is nothing wrong with the insulin, the glucose, or the cell.  The problem is in the cell’s refusal to allow the glucose in. That is caused by something already in the cell occupying the space needed by the glucose.  That something is fat.  Scientists call tiny bits of fat that build up inside muscle cells intramyocellar lipids.  These traces of fat begin to accumulate many years before diabetes manifests.  Normally fat is burned up by mitochondria, little furnaces in the cells, to use as fuel for energy to power muscle cells.  Studies prove that as fat in cells increases, the mitochondria avoid burning it as if to save it for future use.  Reducing fat in the diet has been proven to reduce fat in the cells.  Fat storage in cells is controlled by diet.


The Imperial College School of Medicine in London researchers studied individuals following a vegan diet compared to individuals the same age and body weight but who were following a meat based diet.  They found the intramyocellar lipid in the participants’ calf muscles was 31% lower in the vegans than the omnivores. 


Typically diabetic patients are asked to avoid starchy foods because they break down into sugar in the digestive tract.  However, starchy foods are prevalent in the diet in Japan, China, Thailand, and other parts of Asia and Africa where diabetes is rare.  When people from these cultures move to Europe or North America, where diabetes, heart disease and cancer are prevalent, and change to a meat based diet, their incidence of diabetes skyrockets.  As the traditional Japanese diet has changed to a meat based Western diet, the prevalence of diabetes in Japan has exploded.


In 1979, researchers at the University of Kentucky studied 20 men with Type Two Diabetes all of whom had been taking an average of 26 units of insulin daily.  They were put on an experimental diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans – in short – a vegan diet.  It was high in fiber and carbohydrates, low in fat, and had no saturated fat or cholesterol that is present in meat and dairy.  After 16 days on the program, more than half of the men were able to stop taking insulin entirely.  Their blood sugar levels were that much lower than before.  For those remaining men, insulin doses were cut dramatically.


Other studies include ones conducted at UCLA showing that patients on vegan diets increased their insulin sensitivity.  The vegan diet allowed the body’s own insulin to facilitate the entry of glucose from the bloodstream into the cell where it belongs.


Studies at George Washington School of Medicine funded by the National Institute of Health compared patients on a vegan diet avoiding refined carbohydrates, like white bread and table sugar, to patients on a diet based on the American Diabetes Association guidelines.  The patients were given an Alc test which shows how much glucose is stuck to hemoglobin.  Hemoglobin is the pigment that gives red blood cells their color and carries oxygen.  Glucose enters red blood cells and sticks to hemoglobin.  Research shows that Alc values should be below 7% or better yet – 6.5 or 6%.  The ADA diet reduced Alc by 0.4%, but the vegan diet was three times more effective in reducing Alc by an average of 1.2%  The vegan diet also reduced body weight and cholesterol.   Studies show that a one-point drop in Alc lowers the risk of eye and kidney complications by 37%.


Studies conducted at Georgetown University (1999), George Washington University (1999), studies funded by the National Institute of Health (2003), studies presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Meeting (2004), and published in the American Journal of Medicine (2005), with results presented at the American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators, and American Public Health Association (2005, 2006) determined the following:


A vegan diet can protect your body from the disease process.  In Type Two Diabetes, it can counteract insulin resistance.  In Type One Diabetes, it can get blood sugar under control so medications are minimized.  These are the guidelines: (1) avoid animal products - meat, dairy, eggs.  (2) Keep vegetable oils to a minimum.  (3) Favor foods with a low glycemic index. 


The glycemic index is a number that indicates how rapidly any given food releases sugar into the bloodstream.  A food with a high GI releases sugar into the bloodstream quickly, giving energy and sustenance for a short period of time only.  A food with a low GI releases sugar slowly and maintains a sustained level of sustenance over a longer period of time.  White bread has a high GI, and pumpernickel has a low GI. 


Focus on the new four food groups:  (1) Whole grains: whole grain pasta, brown rice, bran cereal, oatmeal, buglar wheat.  (2) Legumes: beans – black, pinto, kidney, etc., soybeans, peas, lentils, fat free soy products, veggie burgers, texturized vegetable protein, fat free tofu.  (3) Vegetables:  sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, green beans, etc.  (4) Fruits: Apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, oranges, berries, etc.


The vegan diet is a preventative ‘therapy’ to avoid diabetes; it can also reverse Type Two Diabetes, and control Type One Diabetes to keep medications to a minimum.  It is the only proven way to prevent, control, and reverse diabetes.  


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