Treating Diabetes: Scientists Warming To Plant-Based Diet

Dr. Fuhrman advocates a plant-based diet because it is the most optimal diet-style for diabetes reversal, weight-loss, and the prevention of heart disease. Sally Squires of The Washington Post explains many scientists are beginning to acknowledge its superior advantages as well:
People with Type 2 diabetes are advised to limit carbohydrates because of worries that too many carbs could overtax the body's dwindling insulin production and lessen its ability to process glucose.

Now some scientists are asking if a very-low-fat diet rich in healthy carbohydrates—whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables—might be another option.
This prompted scientists to conduct a study comparing the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the vegetable-based diet-style of Dr. Dean Ornish:
The four-month trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, studied 99 people with Type 2 diabetes. Half were asked to follow the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The other half were asked to adhere to a very strict, low-fat vegan diet devoid of meat, fish, eggs, dairy or any other animal products.

Both groups improved blood sugar control and LDL cholesterol levels. Both lost weight, but the vegan group shed an average of 15 pounds, compared with six for the ADA group. As in the Ornish study, the vegan group showed no harmful changes in either HDL or triglyceride levels.
The results of the study demonstrate the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a “vegan” or a plant-based diet. Additionally 20 percent of participants following the vegetable-based diet for a year were able to cut or eliminate their insulin and other glucose-lowering medication.

Squires concludes her report with these three recommendations for those trying to overcome diabetes through diet:
Eat more plant-based foods. The more variety, the better. Groups that recommend eating more beans, vegetables (without added fat), fruit (sans added sugar) and whole grains include the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Easy on the fat. Gram for gram, fat contains more than twice the calories of protein or carbs. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Whatever fat you eat, make it healthy. Skip saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol found in whole milk dairy products, fatty meat and poultry with the skin. Reach instead for fish, healthy oil such as canola or olive oil, healthy margarine, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Get plenty of exercise.
The Diabetes Prevention Program—a large federally funded study of people who were just a step shy of developing diabetes—found that brisk daily exercise (yes, walking is fine) played an important part in preventing diabetes. The study found 30 minutes daily was required, but that can be broken into 10-minute increments.
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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Helena - July 27, 2006 12:59 PM

It is good to hear some of these studies, now that low-carb seems to be touted as the cure-all for diabetes. I must admit I am surprised though, because I also thought that a diet so high in carbs would not be good for blood sugar levels. I was similarly surprised after reading the Dr McDougall success stories. Reversing diabetes on a diet that consist for a large part of potatoes and rice? I think it is amazing.

Of course, the amount of beans and vegetables Mc Dougall and Ornish recommend are still much higher than standard recommendations, maybe that does make the difference?

Val - July 27, 2006 6:25 PM

What is a 'healthy margarine'? I thought all marg. was full of trans fats?

Michael - July 29, 2006 3:33 PM

A study was conducted comparing 4 diets (Atkins, Zone, AHA, and Ornish (low-fat, whole foods) for various factors to determine health and affectiveness. One interesting point was brought to light in regards to blood sugar control: diabetics in the study on average lowered their medication most with the Ornish plan and least with the Atkins plan. Do a search on the internet and you'll find it. There is more to controlling diabetes than just carbohydrate intake.

Elizabeth - February 21, 2013 9:06 AM

It is the high fiber that controls the blood sugars. Beans are so high in fiber and low in calories because when you eat them, most of them are not absorbed, but the fiber is. THat is why they tell you to fill up on beans. And beans have chemicals in them that protect your heart and your colon. If you read the in asia they get a lot of stomach cancer, that is because they eat a lot of salt by way of soy sauce and all their sauces. THey eat white rice, which does not have fiber in it. Dr. Fuhrman and Neal Barnard recommend at least 2-3 cups of beans a day, a lot of raw veggies, and about 22 -30 nuts a day for oil. They also recommend flax meal or chia seeds. They also recommend eating low sugar fruits only and many of the low carb veggies as well. Greens and Beans diet! I found that with this diet, I got rid of irritable bowel, allergies reduced to the point where I don't need allergy pills anymore, I also don't have asthma anymore, and my skin is glowing. I feel way better. My angina and dizziness stopped. I'm borderline diabetic and overweight. In about a month and a half, I lost 30 pounds. I am stalling now because i'm eating bananas and cheating a lot by going to an all you can sushi place, but I have not gained any weight! I stay the same. Time to keep going. I also have not exercised at all yet.

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