21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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Forums: Main Kickstart Forum: Diabetes Reversal
Created on: 03/13/13 10:38 AM Views: 1827 Replies: 4
Diabetes Reversal
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 10:38 AM

I have read Dr. Barnard's book on reversing diabetes. I have also heard him speak in person about diabetes at the Kickstart Intensive that I attended in Washington, DC, in the fall. I also just returned from a holistic cruise where he was a speaker. I attended all his presentations, including the one on diabetes.

I think i understand his theory about reversing diabetes through a low-fat vegan diet. He basically says that by allowing the cells to become clear of the fat from the foods we eat, the cells are able to function normally without the gunk that prevents the insulin to open the cells and allow the glucose in.

My question: while I definitely agree that there is a tremendous value to avoiding animal products, how do we know that the reversal of diabetes is due to the plant-based nature of the diet and not simply due to the reduced caloric intake and resulting weight loss? We know that people who lose weight after bariatric surgery reverse diabetes. Also, people who have lost weight by other means such as Weight Watchers, have also reversed diabetes.

Again, I do not dispute the overall positive value of a plant-based diet. I am doing that. I do want to know, however, whether the essence of diabetes reversal is truly due to the absence of animal foods or to weight loss.

Edited 03/13/13 11:40 AM
RE: Diabetes Reversal
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Good questions! When we first did our pilot study to see how a low-fat, vegan diet works for diabetes, we compared it with the standard recommendations for people with diabetes. Standard recommendations include losing weight (if needed, which it typically is)by calorie counting, portion control, and fat restriction. And while that type of regimen does work to slow down the toll diabetes takes on one's health, it does not come anywhere close to the low-fat, vegan diet results.

Just as a low-fat, vegan diet can reverse heart disease, the potential to reverse diabetes is very strong. Other recommendations are operating under a different goal which is to slow down the progression.

In addition, unlike other programs (WW, bariatric surgery, etc.), a low-fat, vegan diet helps prevent other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

Edited 03/13/13 11:11 AM
RE: Diabetes Reversal
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Another question about the Diabetes Reversal research if you don't mind. Was there any conclusion regarding characterizing diabetics for whom Dr. Barnard's program was less effective? I am a 72 year old Type II male who went on that program a year ago. I had hoped to get my HgbA1c down from its typical 6.4-6.6 range to 6.0 or lower. I had relatively good diet and exercise practices before going on the program and have gone from a BMI of 23.6 down to 21.5 where it has stabilized, but there has been essentially no change in my HgbA1c readings although morning fasting readings appear to be a bit lower. Hence the question.


RE: Diabetes Reversal
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7:06 PM

No - there was no noticeable factor separating progress of lowering A1c. But let's not forget that genetics may play a role, for some more than others. Also, I'm not sure how long you have been on this low-fat, vegan plan, but it takes a while for A1c to manifest the changes you have been making, reflecting about a 3-month average of blood glucose.

It sounds like you are on the right track.

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Diabetes Reversal
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 8:25 AM

How are your post-prandial (after meal) numbers doing? It's possible to have good morning numbers but have large jumps after meals that then come back down again before the next meal. You might consider looking at doing premeal, then 1 and 2 hr post meal tests on occasion (not every day) to see how things trend - does it go up really fast then slowly come back down or does it go up more slowly? How big a rise is it as well - if you are at 109 before your meal and 139 after a meal vs 109 pre meal and 159 post meal, even though 159 is not awful, that's more than a 40 pt jump which is notable (from what I've read). So, not only do you want to keep the absolute value under the given range but you also want to keep the rise under about 40 pts.

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