How does a vegan diet reverse diabetes, not just enable one to “live with it?” It’s not a question that has been posed very much in the aftermath of media attention on celebrity cook and self-styled Queen of Southern cuisine, Paula Deen who announced that she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago, and now has gone public as a paid endorser for Novo Nordisk, manufacturer of the diabetes drug, Victoza, and its new campaign, entitled Diabetes in a New Light.
But among the chorus of reactions, backlash, criticism, speculation and support, we find that the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) wrote an open letter to Paula Deen urging her to consider joining the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. It is the brainchild of Neal Barnard, M.D., the New York Times bestselling author of 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health and Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs among other books. He is also President of PCRM. The letter said in part:
Our Kickstart program, which is completely noncommercial, is based on clinical studies finding that diets free of animal products have the power to treat and sometimes even reverse type 2 diabetes. Studies have found that a low-fat vegan diet controls blood glucose more effectively than a standard diabetes diet and may be more effective than diabetes drugs.
Study participants with type 2 diabetes who switched to a vegan diet saw pounds melt away. Their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol dropped, and many were even able to reduce—or even eliminate—their diabetes medications.
While not likely that Paula Deen will take them up on the offer — in public interviews she has largely dodged questions about how significantly she will change her diet and cooking style, saying she has always believed in “moderation” — it has offered an opportunity for public discussion of a serious health problem and epidemic which is inextricable from the obesity epidemic.
It’s no secret that diabetes can be reversed. We have even seen contestants on NBC’s The Biggest Loser under the supervision of diabetes expert Dr. Michael Dansinger reduce or eliminate the need for medications and insulin once they have made the key lifestyle changes in exercise and diet.
So what happens when one maximizes these efforts? As with anything else in life, we get out of it what we are willing to put in it. And sometimes we must explore our options. Are we willing to live with a chronic condition and expensive drugs (Victoza costs $500 a month, according to the NY Times) with dangerous side effects for the sake of the “everything in moderation” lifestyle of disease-inducing foods?
Dr. Neal Barnard explains in the video above in detail how one can realistically expect a reversal of diabetes with a whole foods low fat vegan diet which does not involve the tedium of counting calories, but rather operates from an entirely different paradigm of making smart food choices that are lower in caloric density, and higher in nutrients and satiety. Every 14 grams of fiber added to the diet will reduce the amount of calories consumed by about 10 percent. Fiber also enables you to feel full and reach satiety. This same concept is getting some mainstream attention as even major weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers encourage unlimited consumption of nonstarchy vegetables and some fruits.
Whether we are facing a potentially life changing health crisis from diabetes or pre-diabetes or we want to lose weight and improve our health significantly more than trying the risky “everything in moderation” we can find the courage to leave that unworkable “moderation” behind, as former President Bill Clinton, who has embraced a vegan diet in order to reverse his heart disease. It’s just a matter of choices. I speak as one who grew up among relatives and friends of the family suffering in late stages of diabetes complications, the indulgent foods never seemed worth such pain and eventual premature death. It’s a shame that there is such a prevalent knee-jerk reaction to what is seen as deprivation when there is such an abundance of wonderful and healthy plant-based whole foods. Nowadays one never need be at a loss of what to eat when resources abound; the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart Web site and Facebook page are a tremendously supportive place to start both to lose weight and to seek to reverse diabetes.
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