A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Can Prevent, and Even Reverse Type 2 Diabetes. What About Type 1?

You must have a stable foundation for everything, especially for your health. Doctors typically focus on treating the symptoms of diabetes with medications and don’t normally focus on prevention. The reality is that diabetes often leads to blindness, peripheral vascular disease, and amputations. It also involves eating disorders, fatigue, mood disorders, sleep disorders, erectile dysfunction, etc.

The recommended diets for diabetics are very confusing. There isn’t enough clarity about what a “low-carb diet” is and there isn’t enough emphasis on how a diet rich in complex carbohydrates is beneficial. Rather than restricting carbs, people should be educated on replacing simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates which is easy on a whole food, plant-based diet.

Plant-Based Diet for Diabetes

Many Benefits of a WFPBD for this Population

Doctors don’t know all the things that cause type 1 diabetes, but they do know that genetics play a role. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder primarily caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This usually means that patients are prescribed life-long insulin injections or have an insulin pump to treat it.

Over time, high glucose levels and cholesterol in your blood can harm the nerves, cells, and small blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys, and heart. These abnormal blood levels in diabetic patients can cause arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and atherosclerosis leading to heart attacks and strokes. Other complications include loss of blood flow, infections, and loss of limbs.

Though it is often very hard to find dietary support for people with Type 1 diabetes, a whole food, plant-based diet is extremely beneficial for this population. A healthy diet can mean less insulin, more stable blood sugar levels, and preservation of eyesight, organs, and limbs.

A fiber-rich, plant-based diet includes replacing simple sugar sources with complex sources which will lower glycemic indexes. 

Diabetes Type 1 – Whole Food Plant-Based Diet for Diabetes Benefits

  • Insulin medication reduction. Studies show that insulin requirements decrease by about 35 percent in only four days, and over a six-month period, they can reduce by 45 percent.
  • More predictable and easier to manage. When people with insulin-dependent diabetes follow a low-fat, low-sugar, plant-based diet for diabetes, their blood glucose levels decrease and stabilize without the need to “limit carbs”. This way of eating also eliminates the feeling of starvation commonly experienced.
  • Decreasing kidney disease risk. Even though you believe you can manage your blood glucose levels while consuming an animal-based diet, the increased protein of animal-based food and glucose level changes often lead to kidney disease. Blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged over time, and the kidneys have to work very hard to process the high levels of protein. Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease, which can lead to dialysis and kidney failure.
  • Eat as much as you want and still lose weight. If you replace all fat, which is 9 calories per gram, with complex plant food, which is 4 calories per gram, you can eat more than double what you usually eat, no longer starve yourself, and still lose weight.
  • Reduced risk of diabetic neuropathies . Blood flow increases throughout the body on a WFPBD by lowering the blood’s viscosity or thickness and increasing cell function by eliminating fat and cholesterol blockages. This helps prevent diabetic neuropathic pain, numbness, and amputations.
  • Increase in energy and happiness. Some of the most commonly reported experiences of diabetic patients on a WFPBD are increases in energy, happiness, improved digestion, and increased quality of sleep

Diabetes Type 2 – Extra Caution with WFPB Dietary Changes

Insulin resistance is the cause of type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, and the drug most commonly used to treat it is metformin. Decades of studies show that in groups of healthy subjects placed on high-fat diets versus high-carbohydrate diets, the high-fat diet group would develop double the blood sugar levels.

Despite this fact, there was a widespread belief for a long time that increased consumption of sugar and carbs was causing diabetes due to the elevation of sugar in the blood. However, in 2006, exhaustive studies conducted by Japanese scientists showed that diabetes is caused by insulin blockage by intramyocellular lipids (fat in the muscle cells).

Insulin normally acts as a key to open a cell for allowing sugar to enter and be used to produce energy, but this fat layer blocks that process, and sugar levels elevate in the blood instead.

The type of fat that causes this is found mostly in saturated fat from meat, dairy, and eggs. The unsaturated fat found in whole plant food like almonds, nuts, and avocados helps to reverse the problem. Many people don’t realize that type 2 diabetes can actually be reversed in a matter of days to a couple of weeks. Patients typically are unwilling or think they cannot change their diet and lifestyle to reach this goal.

Those who overcome these barriers and decide they want to pursue a plant-based diet should have their blood sugar levels closely monitored while doing so.

Committing to a Plant-Based Diet

“The difference between the patients who succeed in improving their blood sugars and the patients who don’t often come down to a willingness to commit and make changes,” said Schwartz.

“There’s always an excuse if you let yourself make one for choosing junky processed food over real food. I’ve had a stressful day. I was hungry and the cafeteria was closed. I was at a party. I didn’t say no to cake because I might offend someone. It’s too expensive to eat healthily.”

If you can afford cigarettes, Netflix, or fast food, you can afford healthier food.

“You learn how to eat from how you were raised, but you can change those habits, too. Take more ownership over the fact that you do have control over what you put in your mouth,” said Schwartz.