So, you just returned from your check-up with your doctor, where you’ve been told, “You’ve got diabetes”, or “You are pre-diabetic”.
Now what? So many diets out there, so much advice. Where do you turn? When you ask your doctor what to eat and not eat, he just shrugs and says, “Eat less sugar.”
It’s confusing, befuddling and a little scary. You want to get your health on track. What do you eat? What do you NOT eat?
Let me help you.
For starters, Type 2 diabetes is one of the world’s most preventable diseases. And what’s more, studies show Type 2 diabetes can be more easily reversed than originally thought—and many people are really doing it—and you can too.
According to this study done in Scotland in 2019 and published in the PLOS journal, approximately 5% or more of people with Type 2 diabetes in Scotland were in remission at the time of the study.
Most newly diagnosed diabetics and pre-diabetics find themselves in a hopeless and confusing situation, at the mercy of their doctors and conventional health care. This can become a downward spiral of helplessness, health issues and pharmaceutical intervention. Worst of all is the feeling of being clueless at how to maintain good health—that the condition can be reversible.
I’d like you to know that Type 2 diabetes is totally preventable, and can be reversible—by making a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes, and by gaining a better awareness of the foods and drinks that contribute to this condition.
The fact that Type 2 diabetes is trending upwards in the United States and the rest of the world, is proof that our current dietary guidelines, conventional medical and pharmacological treatments, and the commercial food industry are completely misleading the public with diabetes diet and treatment recommendations.
If this system worked, the numbers would be decreasing–not increasing. It’s pretty clear that we heading in the wrong direction!
In 1991, it was projected that around 11.6 million Americans would have diabetes by 2030—however those numbers were based on an old definition of diabetes, with a higher blood sugar level than what use now to diagnose diabetes. The number of Americans with diabetes is now double that number! And worldwide, the numbers are similarly increasing.
Diabetes has become a relatively common disease and the seriousness of the health ramifications are easily overlooked. Diabetes is directly tied to a high risk for heart disease, strokes, neuropathy, serious infections, kidney, and eye disease. And the presence of diabetes or obesity means contagious viruses like Covid can become life-threatening.
Health complications frequently associated with Type 2 diabetes include:
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Nervous system disease
- Wounds, infections, and amputations
- Dental disease
- Pregnancy complications and birth defects
- Poor immune function and ability to fight off viruses and other pathogens
- Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Depression, anxiety, and other mood problems
The official medical definition of pre-diabetes is a fasting blood sugar of over 100 mg/dL, and the diagnosis for full-blown diabetes is 126 mg/dL. However, these numbers are rather arbitrary.
These cutoff numbers do not reflect the whole spectrum of risk that includes heart disease, cancer, dementia, strokes, kidney, and nerve damage—which start at much lower glucose numbers—numbers that conventional medical professionals often classify as ‘normal’. Diabetes exists on a spectrum.
The DECODE study of 22,000 people in 2003 from the European Diabetes Epidemiology Group measured blood sugar after participants ingested a standardized sugary drink, found that even starting at blood sugar levels that were seemingly ‘normal’ (95 mg/dL), there was a significant and consistent increased risk of heart disease and other diabetic complications.
However, Type 2 diabetes, or pre-diabetes, can be preventable and even reversible. And when you make the necessary changes to your diet, it has far-reaching effects for overall health and wellbeing!
A study from Newcastle University in the UK, found that losing body fat decreases fat in the pancreas. It is theorized that accumulated fat in the pancreas contributes to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. When that fat in the pancreas is reduced, the pancreas begins to work more efficiently.
According to Dr. Taylor of Newcastle University, losing just 1 gram of fat out of the pancreas will help the pancreas return to normal function. When the pancreas is functioning properly, it releases insulin which controls glucose in the blood.
According to this UK study, losing only 13% of your body weight will reduce fat in the pancreas to improve or reverse diabetes symptoms.
Yet, you probably won’t get this type of information from a conventional healthcare professional–because treating diabetics is very profitable. The whole healthcare industry, including doctors, dietitians, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, weight loss centers, bariatric surgeries, kidney treatments, and nerve treatment clinics exist all because of complications of diabetes.
And here is a sad but true fact: There is more money in treating diabetics with insulin and pharmaceutical medications, than there is in curing diabetes with diet and lifestyle changes. A diabetes patient is looked at by medical professionals as a long-term patient who will bring in money to increase their profits. And, unfortunately, our healthcare system is a for-profit system—and a huge business at that!
Conventional Treatment Can Make Health Worse
The conventional treatment for Type 2 diabetes focuses on controlling blood sugar levels by raising insulin levels, although this method of treatment can worsen the underlying issue of metabolic miscommunication of hormones that govern blood sugar, appetite, insulin, and fat storage.
A scientific study of 33,000 people showed intensive drug treatment of Type 2 diabetes, is only effective in 15-17% of cases. Glucose-lowering drugs have been shown to increase the risk of death—and they don’t even prevent the dangerous complications of diabetes. Diabetics often get lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that their blood sugar and carbohydrate intake doesn’t really matter if they have medication to control their blood sugar.
Even if you closely monitor and maintain glucose control, diabetes can age you prematurely and shorten your life. The chance of diabetes worsening over time under conventional medical care is almost a certainty, since the medications that are used to control blood sugar also cause weight gain.
Conventional medical treatment starts a downward spiral: As a person gains weight and diabetes worsens, more medications are prescribed, and the doses keep going up and up.
The only way to break out of this vicious cycle is to make serious changes in diet and lifestyle and stick to them.
Diabetes is not caused by just having elevated blood sugar—it is caused by insulin resistance and poor hormonal signaling, which can be improved solely by changes in diet and activity levels.
Even the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine states that most cases of Type 2 diabetes can be, “…prevented by the adoption of a healthier diet and lifestyle”.
Diet is the single most important factor that leads to high blood glucose levels, insulin stability issues, metabolic dysfunction, high triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
And–diet can reverse these conditions as well.
The results of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show that making key lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, will create positive change in body weight, blood pressure, and HbA1C blood glucose readings. Heart health can also improve, LDL cholesterol goes down and the healthy HDL cholesterol levels can increase.
Diabetics need to follow a natural whole-foods diet that excludes sugar in all forms, processed carbohydrates, grains, and omega 6 vegetable seed oils.
Diabetics should be eating grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, free range chicken, and oodles of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. This is the best and healthiest way to regain your body’s natural balance. In turn, you can prevent diabetes complications and regain your health.
The fact is–our bodies are designed to be healthy—if we give them the appropriate materials. Give your body the right environment for healing and it will become a miraculous self-healing machine.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
Diabetes doesn’t develop overnight. It is usually from years of a poor diet lacking in nutrients, high in sugars and refined carbohydrates. Even something as minor as drinking just one soda or fruit juice a day can increase the odds of developing diabetes up to 80%.
Other factors that increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight—even as little as 5-7% over suggested body weight
- Being over the age of 45
- Having a family member with diabetes
- Ethnic background of African American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
- Previous incidence of gestational diabetes
- Blood pressure over 140/90
- HDL cholesterol less than 35, LDL cholesterol over 150, and triglycerides over 150
Diabetes can be sneaky and not have noticeable symptoms. Symptoms can vary widely from person to person. You may or may not experience some of these symptoms–but if you do, you need to make a visit to your physician or health practitioner to have your blood glucose and insulin levels checked:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst—not related to anything else (i.e., exercise, heat, altitude, etc.)
- Increased fatigue
- Unusual or unexplained weight loss or gain
- Blurry vision
- Frequent infections of skin, urinary tract, or vagina
- Poor or slow wound healing
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Depression and anxiety
- Metabolic Syndrome
The Diabetes Spectrum
One of the primary things to understand about diabetes and high blood sugar is that there is no line that you cross over and then you have health issues. Type 2 diabetes and elevated blood sugar exist on a spectrum.
Optimal blood sugar levels should be consistently in the 80’s, and HbA1C levels should ideally be below 5%. Once those levels begin to rise you’ve entered the diabetes risk spectrum which starts with metabolic syndrome, moves to pre-diabetes, and then on to full-blown diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is not benign. Once you are in the ‘pre-diabetic’ range, damage is already occurring to your heart, blood vessels and organs. In fact, research shows that roughly two-thirds of patients admitted to an ER for heart attacks already had ‘pre-diabetes’.
Your risk of a heart attack increases with any rise in blood sugar beyond optimal levels. The fact is pre-diabetes can kill you before you ever get to diabetes from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
The point is this—Don’t wait until you have been officially diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes to change your diet and lifestyle.
How Does Diabetes Develop?
Most of the energy in our bodies comes from glucose, which is the sugar the body uses for fuel from foods we eat. Glucose comes primarily from carbohydrates in our diet, which we eat in the form of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods.
Glucose can also be broken down and metabolized from protein and fats as well, but carbohydrates and simple sugars are the most readily available for the body to use. So when you eat, food is converted to glucose and the blood carries the glucose to all the cells in our body. We also store some glucose in the form of glycogen, in the liver and the muscles.
As the glucose levels begin to rise, cells in the pancreas secrete insulin. The insulin lowers the glucose in the bloodstream and sends the glucose off to the cells where can be used or stored.
Insulin is the key to unlock your body’s cell receptor sites to allow glucose into the cell to provide energy for growth, repair, and energy production. When there is not enough insulin in the bloodstream to open receptor sites on our cells, or when the body no longer responds appropriately to the insulin that is released, glucose stays in the bloodstream, beginning its destruction.
High glucose in the bloodstream is extremely damaging. Think of it this way: if you put sand in your car’s gas tank, the damaging, the abrasive effects of the sand in the engine would destroy most of its sensitive components. Glucose in our bodies is similarly damaging, and it has very destructive effects if it rises out of control.
High levels of glucose irritate, inflame, and damage the lining of blood vessels, from the primary arteries to the smallest of capillaries.
Our heart and circulatory system, the brain, the kidneys and the tiny vessels in the eyes, our sexual organs, and the nervous system are most vulnerable to the damaging effects of glucose.
Massive quantities of free radicals begin to circulate from the excessive inflammation, which then attack your cells and their DNA. When DNA in cells is damaged, cells cannot reproduce properly. This is where cancer can become a likely possibility. And yes, glucose is the preferred food for cancer cells.
Weight and Type 2 Diabetes
Way before diabetes is diagnosed, the more weight someone carries on his or her body, the more insulin is necessary to lower blood glucose. So being overweight predisposes a person to diabetes.
The more overweight a person is, the more insulin is released each time they eat. Then, the more weight that is gained, the easier it is to store fat, and it becomes harder and harder to lose it. It’s a vicious cycle. Insulin also has a huge effect on hunger and appetite and makes it harder to stop eating.
The Vicious Cycle
When you eat sugary, starchy foods like cookies, pasta, bread, potatoes, etc., blood sugar spikes, then there is a rush of insulin to lower blood sugar. In a couple of hours, you will be hungrier than before. This sets people up for weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. For diabetics, this situation is even worse, as medication in the form of insulin not only works to lower blood sugar, but it increases fat storing.
Conventional medicine’s answer to treating diabetes is prescribe and administer insulin–which as a side effect—can cause weight gain and appetite increase. This treatment can create a vicious circle of weight gain, worsening diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides and cholesterol.
Then comes the blood pressure medication, statins for lowering cholesterol, and more pharmaceuticals—along with more complications. Many of these have weight gain and exercise intolerance as side effects.
Relying on lowering blood sugar with medication or insulin will not improve one’s health, nor will it counteract the effects of diabetes. In fact, relying on medications to lower blood sugar does NOT reduce the risk of death from any of the related health complications of diabetes of stroke, heart attacks, infections, and kidney disease. Only diet and lifestyle changes will.
What’s Wrong with Our Diet?
In the last few thousand years, our food system makes all kinds of food too easy to obtain—in fact, it’s hard to escape! Modern people don’t have to spend days burning up thousands of calories hunting or growing their own food.
The problem is that most food that is readily available is something that our bodies do not even recognize. Until a few thousand years ago, humans rarely even ate grains that were refined. And now, grains and soy make up about 75%-80% of most people’s diets.
Food made from processed grains, starches or sugars is very quickly converted into glucose in the body.
100 years or so ago, an average American consumed about 4 pounds or less of sugar a year. Today, the average American consumes between 150 and 200 pounds of sugar a year! Is it really any wonder why obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed?
Refined sugars are in most all processed foods, soft drinks, and even juices. Some of the less-than-obvious foods that contain high levels of sugar include:
- ‘Healthy’ whole grain cereals
- Barbecue sauce
- Frozen ‘diet’ dinners
- Hot dogs and other processed meats
- Spaghetti sauce
- Peanut and other nut butters
- Salad dressing
- Smoothies, juices, and other ‘natural’ drinks
- Energy drinks, energy bars
You can walk down virtually any inner aisle in a grocery store, pick up a can, bottle or box and find some form of sugar in the ingredients.
Modern man has never really evolved to eat a diet high in starches or sugars. It is contrary to our physiology.
Let’s take a moment to review Physiology 101. Our bodies have two primary sources of energy supply:
- Fat—which we burn when insulin and blood sugar levels are low. Your body will access, break down, and burn your own fat for energy.
- Glucose—which comes from the starches and sugars we eat. High glycemic foods are quickly turned into glucose in the body. In turn glucose levels go up and insulin is released to lower glucose. Insulin lowers blood sugar. The blood sugar is converted to fat and is stored. This also stops you from burning your own fat for energy.
Grain and Blood Sugar
Wheat and corn are two of the most used food ingredients in processed foods. They also can have some of the worst effects on your blood sugar.
Wheat gluten can be related to a whole range of inflammatory diseases, and even for those who are seemingly not gluten-sensitive, it causes low-level, long-term inflammation. Wheat also contains a substance called Amylopectin-A, which has been found in some tests to spike your blood sugar higher than even pure table sugar. In fact, amylopectin-A can raise your blood sugar more than almost any other carbohydrate source, based on blood sugar response testing that’s documented in studies.
Corn also has a very high sugar content and is a definite contributor to diabetes and obesity. Corn also contains substances that block nutrients from being utilized in the body. It can cause a variety of health issues, such as dermatitis, diarrhea, irritability, ADD and depression.
Eating a more primal style diet with low carbohydrates and free of grains and sugar is the healthier way to control blood sugar, appetite, and weight. This type of diet emphasizes eating real foods, such as fresh organic vegetables, and naturally raised meat and fish, along with ample amounts of healthy fats–while avoiding grains, omega 6 vegetable seed oils, processed foods, and sugars.
The Diabetes Weight Loss Diet
- Eliminate all processed and packaged foods. A good rule of thumb is to look at the list of ingredients. If it has more than 3 ingredients, avoid it—especially if it contains ingredients that you don’t recognize or cannot pronounce. Keep on hand food that contains 1 ingredient or doesn’t even have a label. Most all food that has a label contains sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Eliminate sugar in all forms. This includes: sucrose, glucose, cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, fruit juice, juice concentrate, maltose, fructose, maple syrup, corn sweetener, natural sweeteners, beet sugar, organic cane juice, brown rice syrup, agave, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol.
- Get rid of all artificial sweeteners. This includes Splenda (sucralose), Nutrasweet, (aspartame), Sweet n’ Low (saccharin), and anything containing sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, malitol, and erythritol, or anything ending with “-ol”. These sweeteners can promote weight gain.
- Beware of Stevia. Although Stevia is marketed as an all-natural safe sweetener that doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin levels, beware of the commercially prepared stevia. Commercial stevia often has added sugars like dextrose (a sweetener made from corn), or erythritol (a highly processed sweetener).
- Eliminate all grain products. Eliminate corn, wheat, rice, oats, and all “gluten free” products—most of these are highly processed starches that will raise your blood sugar quickly. Beware of “grain-free” products or gluten-free products, they often contain cassava or tapioca starch, another highly processed form of starch.
- Eliminate all omega 6 vegetable seed oils such as: corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and any oil that says “hydrogenated”. Also, check labels to be sure foods do not contain these inflammatory oils. Vegetable oils have been shown to cause weight gain and massive inflammation.
- Avoid all soft drinks, diet drinks, energy/sports drinks, fruit juices, and sweetened teas-whether “diet” or sweetened with sugar, fruit juice, or high fructose corn syrup.
- Remove conventional dairy products such as flavored yogurts or kefirs, and drinks—these contain high amounts of sugar. Also avoid drinking skim milk, as skim milk is quite high in lactose (a sugar), and the absence of milk fat makes it easily absorbable and can increase blood sugar. Dairy products increase inflammation as well.
- Avoid commercially processed meats including cold cuts, sausages, bacon and jerky with added sugars and preservatives.
- Avoid condiments including ketchup, mayonnaise, relishes, jams, jellies, salad dressings, and pre-packaged sauces like spaghetti sauce—as these often have a lot of added sugar.
- Avoid frozen prepared dinners—especially ‘weight loss’ meals. These are full of preservatives, starches, sugar, and other chemicals that increase inflammation and addict the consumer.
- Avoid soups in cans or boxes. These often have a lot of additives, sodium, sugars, and starches.
- Eliminate non-dairy milks with added sugar or other sweeteners. Especially avoid soy milk, rice milk and oat milk—these are high sugar products. If you like non-dairy milk, use a nut-based one without added sugar.
- Avoid starchy, high glycemic vegetables: beets, peas, white potatoes, carrots, and corn.
- Avoid alcohol—especially beer and mixed drinks. If you feel you would like to drink alcohol, you can enjoy one glass of wine a day. Dry red wine has the least amount of sugar. Alcohol turns to sugar in our bodies and impairs our ability to avoid sugary, starchy foods.
- Be aware that many medications contain either corn syrup or artificial sweeteners—especially over-the-counter cough syrups and antihistamines.
The best diabetes-fighting superfoods are low glycemic, have few carbohydrates, and have high concentrations of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (healing plant chemicals), and fiber.
Not only will you find eating nutrient-dense foods satisfying and delicious, but because these foods are low glycemic and high in nutrition, you will feel satisfied and feel your cravings for junk food start to recede. Our bodies are smart–when you feed your body the nutrition it needs, it stops craving more food.
Low glycemic (low sugar) foods not only keep your blood sugar stable and low—where it should be, but because they do not stimulate an insulin release, they do not stimulate your appetite. Result: you feel satisfied and full longer.
Being in a state of ‘un-health’ with diabetes or pre-diabetes—or even being overweight—means you are most likely missing out on valuable nutrients in your diet. Besides stabilizing your blood sugar, eating super foods will restore valuable nutrients to your body. By doing this, you will help reverse your diabetes and in the process, you may prevent or get rid of other health issues as well.
You will want to follow these principles to maximize the nutrient value of your food and maximize your health:
- Whenever possible, eat REAL food that has only ONE ingredient.
- Eat organic as much as possible. For a list of the foods you should eat organic and foods ok to eat conventionally-raised see the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15” and www.ewg.org. This list is updated annually.
- Eat high quality protein: grass-fed meat, pasture-raised/organic poultry, wild-caught fish, and pastured eggs.
- Buy local, if you can. Include vegetables, meat and dairy products that are raised nearby. Smaller, local farms have more naturally raised options, and less shipping time means more nutrition in the food. Most local food is raised with fewer pesticides, herbicides, etc. And you will KNOW where it came from.
Keep in mind, major changes to your diet may mean you have to adjust your taste buds. Your body may be used to super-sweet, processed foods with added chemicals, artificial flavorings and sweeteners that enhance the flavor.
Real food may taste different, but you may find that real food tastes far better than any processed junk. Your cravings for sweets subside as you nourish your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—everything it is craving. As you eliminate sugar from your diet you will find that you do not need added sugars.
Vegetables should be the cornerstone of your diet and the primary food group you are eating. Vegetables are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and diabetes-fighting phytochemicals. Organic veggies not only help to reverse diabetes, but they also help you lose weight, speed up your metabolism, optimize your health and are good for the planet as well!
Vegetables are high in vitamins, mineral and fiber. They fill you up, while being very low in calories, so you become healthier and lose weight when you eat a diet heavy in vegetables.
When you ingest the fiber from vegetables and protein, before eating carbohydrates, blood sugar remains 30% lower. And, the fiber in vegetables keeps you regular, and cleans out toxins, cholesterol, and waste products, and helps to prevent a majority of diseases.
Here are 9 ways to increase vegetables in your diet:
- Buy local whenever possible. Buying local ensures you fresh picked, seasonal vegetables, with the highest concentration of nutrients. They taste much better too.
- Try different kinds of vegetables chopped up in salads. Enjoy salads with a variety of greens, carrots, cucumber, radishes, sweet red pepper, tomatoes, walnuts or almonds, and a hard-boiled egg, tuna, or meat. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some herbs, (keep these ingredients on hand, and you never have to eat unhealthy bottled salad dressing again), and viola! A delicious low glycemic meal.
- Sauté or lightly steam vegetables till tender crisp, not mushy. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, grass-fed butter, sea salt and pepper.
- Keep raw veggies cut up in the fridge and you always have a handy low calorie, high nutrient, high fiber snack on hand.
- Use sliced cucumber, zucchini, celery, and other veggies to dip into hummus, bean dip, guacamole, or salsa instead of chips or crackers.
- Mash up cauliflower instead of high glycemic mashed potatoes. Chop cauliflower into small pieces and steam until tender. Add garlic browned in butter, sea salt and pepper, and mash with a fork or potato masher.
- Make sandwiches and tacos out of lettuce leaves. Use butter lettuce, Bibb, or Boston lettuce and wrap any combo of meat, fish, and veggies in lettuce. Try tuna salad this way! Many restaurants are beginning to offer this on the menu. You can also try making sandwich rolls from seaweed sheets.
- Add a variety of greens to your smoothies. Use kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mache, parsley, or any other power greens in your smoothies. You can also add celery, zucchini, cucumber, and other vegetables to smoothies as well. You generally can’t taste them, and blending them up with your smoothies makes them ‘pre-digested’ so your body easily absorbs the nutrients.
- Try grilling vegetables. Nothing tastes better than grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini or summer squash, or grilled sweet red peppers or sliced onions. One of my favorite ways to eat vegetables in the summertime is when they are garden fresh!
Other Top Superfoods for Diabetes
- Avocados – The healthy fats and other nutrition you get from avocados help stabilize blood sugar and insulin. This fruit is super high in healthy monounsaturated fat, and full of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and antioxidants. It fights cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. And because avo’s are high in fat, they are filling and satisfying.
- Beans and Legumes – Black, white, navy, lima, pinto, garbanzo, soy, and kidney beans are a terrific combination of slow-burning carbohydrates, satisfying protein, and soluble fiber that helps stabilize blood-sugar levels, and keeps hunger in check. Beans are also inexpensive and versatile.
- Coffee – You may be happy to hear that drinking coffee can decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by more than half, according to a new study from University of California, Los Angeles. And, a 2011 study in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research revealed that coffee consumption helped to prevent or delay degenerative diseases connected with free radicals.
- Wild Caught Fish, Grass-Fed Meat and Free-Range Poultry, Eggs and Raw, Unpasteurized Cheese – Naturally raised, antibiotic and hormone free cattle, poultry and fish contain the highest amounts of nutrients possible, because these animals are eating their natural diet. Their fat contains more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and other essential fatty acids as well.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar has been shown to lower post-meal glucose by 34%, according to an Arizona State University study. Vinegar slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood and slow the breakdown of starches eaten into sugars. The study also shows that vinegar increases insulin sensitivity.
- Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, cashews, and walnuts sit at the top of the list for nutrition, but many other varieties of nuts and seeds are healthy, too, including pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, pecans, cashews, macadamias, and Brazil nuts. Nuts are chock-full of minerals, including copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. Selenium is a potent cancer-fighting mineral, and aids the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism, and fat burning in the body. Beware of overdoing a good thing—nuts a significant amount of inflammatory omega 6 fats. AVOID any nuts roasted in vegetable oils!
- Olive Oil – We now know that monounsaturated fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts is beneficial to our overall health. Olive oil varieties are a bit like wine, where different growing conditions, soil and weather dictate the taste, color and levels of polyphenols and antioxidants in the oil. People who use olive oil regularly have lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma. A Spanish study published in the Diabetes Care, showed a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet. Diets using ample amounts of olive oil improved adiponectin levels, thus reducing inflammation and heart attack risks.
- Grass-fed Butter and Ghee– Healthy fats are key to good health. They supply your body with essential fatty acids for blood sugar stabilization, longevity, hormone balance, heart health, sharp vision, glowing, moist skin and energy. The best source of healthy butter is from organic, grass-fed cows. Natural fats are the most beneficial to the body. Fat is converted to the most efficient type of fuel for the body. Fat helps our bodies absorb nutrients–particularly calcium and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils, helping to lower LDL cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol—preventing heart disease. This recent study showed that mice fed coconut oil better insulin sensitivity and less body fat than mice fed lard. This study helps how medium chain ‘fatty acids’ found in coconut oil can help burn body fat. Pure coconut oil (make sure it is not hydrogenated) is one of the best options for cooking oil, due to its highly stable nature under heat. This article below describes more details about cooking oils and which are healthy vs. unhealthy:
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables – Including chard, spinach, baby greens, romaine, kale, arugula, and collard greens. Leafy greens deliver massive health benefits and big nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Leafy greens are high in magnesium which helps to stabilize blood sugar. In addition to its blood sugar-controlling abilities, it also assists in metabolism of carbohydrates and reduces cravings for sugar. Leafy vegetables are also rich in folate, vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and contain beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protects cells’ DNA. Carotenoids, which are the antioxidants in orange, red, yellow, and green vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes Type 2 by 20% or so.
- Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Kale and Other Cruciferous Veggies – Eating foods rich in vitamin C helps to lower inflammation and keep it in check, thereby lowering the risk of diabetes.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are also rich in potassium, which helps to regulate glucose metabolism. Potassium is necessary for the beta cells in the pancreas to ‘sense’ elevated blood sugar levels, and respond by secreting insulin. Cruciferous vegetables helping the body eliminate xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are artificial estrogens from toxic chemicals in our environment, plastics, cosmetics, and food additives.
- Garlic and Onions –Both of these pungent herbs contain an ingredient, allicin, known for antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties. Garlic and onions help to increase insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar, as shown by a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Garlic is known to prevent heart disease and strokes, and onions contain a hefty amount of quercetin (especially red or purple onions), which helps to reduce inflammation, help allergies, and fight heart disease and cancer.
- Berries and Cherries – when you crave something sweet, berries like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries fit the bill. Berries and cherries are diabetes superfoods because they are packed with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and little natural sugar. Berries’ deep red, blue or purple color comes from a compound called anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid antioxidant that has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and help control blood sugar.
- Dark Chocolate – When you feel you need a satisfying treat and crave chocolate, reach for an antioxidant-filled piece of dark chocolate. Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao tree, theobroma cacao. Cocoa contains several antioxidants which are effective in preventing weight gain and Type 2 diabetes by curbing the appetite and improving glucose tolerance. The flavonoids in dark chocolate have powerful antioxidant properties, which means they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing–and repairing–cellular damage. A small bar of dark chocolate can contain the same amount of antioxidants as six apples, four and a half cups of tea, or two glasses of red wine.
- Seaweed – New studies report certain seaweeds slow down processing of carbohydrates, which keeps blood sugar from spiking. Brown seaweed extracts appear to the ability to interfere with the release of simple sugars as well, which reduces post-meal blood sugar spikes. Other research on seaweed shows seaweed lowers blood pressure and reduces heart attack risk.
- Green Tea – Green tea helps to sensitize insulin cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. A Japanese study published in the Diabetes and Metabolism Journal found that people who drank 6 cups of tea a day were 33% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. It does this by slowing the action of the digestive enzyme, amylase. This enzyme is pivotal in the breakdown of starches (carbs), that can cause blood sugar levels to soar following a meal. This is exciting stuff — green tea might be a missing link in proper glucose management. Tea also contains polyphenols which reduce oxidative stress, and cause vasodilation which expands and relaxes blood
vessels, reducing blood pressure, and lessening the chances for heart attacks and strokes. Green tea is also a fat burning food. Green tea increases metabolic rate, which burns more calories, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Red Wine – Red wine can be healthy for diabetics! A small glass of red wine a day can help keep diabetes under control. The polyphenols found in red grape skins help regulate glucose levels. Some antioxidants interact with human cells involved with fat cells, energy storage and blood sugar regulation. These antioxidants have a similar action as the diabetes drug Avandia.
Keto Diet and Diabetes
While conventional diet and medical practice focus on carbohydrates, as in the Standard American Diet, a better option is reduced carb Paleo or keto. Low carb Paleo and Ketogenic diets can reprogram our bodies to fat burning machines. These kinds of diets are very effective in lowering the amount of glucose circulating in the body and bringing back insulin sensitivity once again.
What is the difference between a Paleo diet and a Keto diet?
The Paleo diet has been popular over the past decade. Paleo emphasizes eating a diet close to what our primal ancestors ate: no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no processed foods, and no refined sugar. Paleo eaters do eat some sweet potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, allow natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and dates. Paleo diets also include grass-fed pastured meats, poultry, eggs, wild caught fish, game, and healthy saturated fats.
Is a Paleo diet effective for type 2 diabetes? The Paleo diet can contain variable amounts of carbohydrates and natural sugars, depending on the types of paleo foods you choose to eat. Many versions of Paleo diets include sweet potatoes, or desserts sweetened with dates, honey, molasses, or maple syrup.
The ketogenic diet is not a new dietary fad–it has existed since the 1950’s as a treatment for epilepsy and other health issues. It recently gained popularity to fight chronic disease, increase physical stamina, fuel the brain, and reduce body fat.
The ketogenic diet takes Paleo a step further by restricting carbohydrates to a much larger degree. A keto diet restricts most carbohydrates and sugar, keeping blood sugar low. This forces the body to burn fats for energy. Keto diets are even more restrictive than Paleo diets as far as carbs go. A keto diet is the perfect diet for a diabetic. A keto diet allows 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
How a ketogenic diet works for type 2 diabetic
The best and healthiest method to lower blood sugar for a Type 2 diabetic is by severely restricting carbohydrates and sugars, in addition to increasing antioxidants and other nutrient-dense foods.
The keto diet is very low carb, and low sugar, so blood sugar stays low. Most people on the keto diet can easily lose weight, and the body becomes much more sensitive to insulin. utilize for energy. The keto diet contains these macro nutrients:
- 60-75% calories from healthy fats
- 15-30% calories from protein
- 5-10% calories from carbohydrates
Keto Diet Research
A study was done at Duke University on 28 overweight participants with type 2 diabetes. After only 16 weeks, participants had these results:
- 16% decrease in HbA1c
- 20lb weight loss, average
- 42% decrease in triglyceride levels
- 10 patients reduced or stopped medication
This study by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, shows convincing evidence that cutting carb intake to 30g a day, improved blood sugar levels and helped weight loss in adults with type 2 diabetes. In almost 60% of participants, diabetes medication was decreased or stopped altogether. After 10 weeks on the keto diet:
- HbA1c had a 6.5% decrease
- BMI decreased by 7%
- 112 reduced diabetes medications, 21 totally eliminated diabetes medications
Another study of 84 people, found 24 weeks, diabetes markers of fasting blood glucose, body mass index (BMI), weight, and Hb A1C dropped drastically. This study looked at 2 groups—low calorie vs low carb/high fat.
- Fasting glucose decreased 16%
- BMI decreased 3, 15lb weight loss, average
- 5 reduction in HbA1c
- Fasting glucose decreasesd 20%
- BMI decreased 4, 24.5lb weight loss, average
- 5 reduction in HbA1c
Another study of 363 overweight and obese participants looked the ketogenic diet on weight loss and diabetes. 102 of the subjects had type 2 diabetes. One group consumed a low-calorie diet and the other group consumed a keto diet. Subjects were measured on these parameters:
- Body weight
- Waist circumference
- Blood glucose
- Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides
- Uric acid, urea, creatinine
After 24 weeks, both groups had improved in all metrics but the keto group had more significant results. Diabetic medications were decreased to half and some were discontinued for those on the ketogenic diet.
Conventional Diabetic Diets vs. Ketogenic Diets
Despite all the positive research on ketogenic diets for diabetes, most doctors and dietitians still recommend terrible high carb diets to manage diabetes. A typical medically supervised diet recommended for a type 2 diabetic would include 45-60g carbohydrates at every meal, plus 15-30g of carbs for snacks.
Keto diets are a crucial key to healthy management of type 2 diabetes. Dietary carbohydrate restriction has the greatest effect on decreasing glucose levels. Type 2 diabetics can adhere to a ketogenic diet at least as easily as they can most other diets, and often better.
Dietary carbohydrate restriction is the most effective way to reduce serum triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and increasing healthy HDL cholesterol.
The available evidence suggests a keto diet is a safe and effective way to control or reverse type 2 diabetes and lose weight in the process. Many people on keto-style diets report increased overall health, reduction of chronic disease symptoms, and elimination of ahes, pains and mental issues. The result is a healthy body, better blood sugar control, weight loss and a clear head.
Your physician is your partner in this diabetes plan, so be sure to share with him all the details of your new diet and lifestyle, so that he can modify your medications and monitor your health as needed. It is highly likely that if you follow this plan, you will need to reduce or even stop your medications, as this plan will have significant effects on your blood sugar levels.
However, DO NOT attempt to change your medication dosages without consulting your physician first.