Type 2 diabetes is prevalent in the United States – in 2011, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—had diabetes (from the American Diabetes Association fact sheet). I’m sure you know someone who has it. I know I do, just in my own family tree. Diabetes is linked to an increased risk of several serious complications including diabetic retinopathy (may lead to blindness), high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure (leading to dialysis), neuropathy of the arms/legs, and amputation (often of toes, feet or legs). While alarming, what can we do about it?
In addition to exercise (at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise combined with strength training, most days per week), change your diet! What diet does the American Diabetes Association recommend? It’s right there on their website: “A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit.” In other words, a plant-strong diet!
And for those of you who would like to read some scientific articles on reversing diabetes through a plant-based diet, here are some links:
Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol. E. L. Lim & K. G. Hollingsworth &B. S. Aribisala & M. J. Chen & J. C. Mathers& R. Taylor. Diabetologia. 2011 June. doi: 10.1007/s00125-011-2204-7.
A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Jaster B, Seidl K, Green AA, Talpers S. Diabetes Care. 2006 Aug;29(8):1777-83.
Systematic reviews of the literature:
Usefulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for treating type 2 diabetes. Trapp CB, Barnard ND. Curr Diab Rep. 2010 Apr;10(2):152-8. doi: 10.1007/s11892-010-0093-7. Review.
Vegetarian and vegan diets in type 2 diabetes management. Barnard ND, Katcher HI, Jenkins DJ, Cohen J, Turner-McGrievy G. Nutr Rev. 2009 May;67(5):255-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00198.x. Review.