The American population has not grasped the rapidly emerging crisis of type 2 diabetes. This disease, which is 100% preventable in most cases, is on an epidemic rise.
- One out of every three children born after 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes. (Neal Bernard, MD – Professor of Medicine at George Washington University)
- A person with diabetes today loses more than a decade of their life and about three-quarters will die prematurely of a heart attack. (Neal Bernard, M.D.)
- Over the short run, people with type 2 diabetes may experience fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, and blurred vision. In the long run, they are at risk for heart disease, kidney problems, disorders of vision, nerve damage, and other difficulties.(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
- The highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. are in a “diabetes belt” in 15 mostly Southern states. (Center for Disease Control)
Fortunately, when an unhealthy diet has been the cause, an improved and plant-based diet can provide the solution we so desperately need.
What Explains The Increase of Type 2 Diabetes?
Meat consumption per person has increased over the past century from about 125 pounds per year to over 200 pounds today. The average American now eats 75 pounds more meat every year! Cheese intake drastically increased from less than 4 pounds per person per year to about 33 pounds today. Sugar intake has also soared as well, by about 30 pounds per person per year. Where does all the extra sugar, cheese, and meat go? It contributes to higher body fat, less nutrition, and a poor digestive system. Among a plethora of other life-threatening problems, the intake increase of meat, cheese and sugar can be directly correlated to the increase of type 2 diabetes.
The Science Behind Type 2 Diabetes:
Glucose is used as fuel for the body. The hormone insulin leads glucose into cells, which powers our body, including the muscle cells to power our movements and the brain cells to power our thoughts. In those with type 2 diabetes, the cells resist insulin’s action, so glucose has trouble getting into the cells. The resistance to insulin that leads to diabetes is caused by a buildup of fat inside the muscle cells and also the liver. Fat particles inside muscle cells interfere with insulin’s efforts to open the cell to glucose. This fat comes from beef, chicken, fish, cooking oils, dairy products, etc.
If glucose can’t get into the cells, it builds up in the blood.
Dr. Neal Bernard uses the following analogy: “It is as if gasoline coming out of a gas pump somehow can’t get into your gas tank, and it ends up spilling over the side of your car, coming in through your car windows, and dribbling all over the pavement.”
The abnormally high levels of glucose circulating in the bloodstream are toxic to the blood vessels, especially the tiny blood vessels of the eyes, the kidneys, the extremities, and the heart.
Reversing the Diagnosis:
“When people who already have diabetes adopt a low-fat, vegan diet, their condition improves dramatically. In our research, funded by the U.S. Government, we found that a vegan diet is more effective than the current traditional diabetes diet.” –Dr. Neal Barnard
When people begin a healthy, plant-based diet, most see big improvements in weight, cholesterol, and their blood sugar. Their need for medication diminishes, and some may not need medications at all. (BTW – Diabetes medication is only delaying the onslaught of diseases linked to diabetes. Medications do not prevent or reverse diabetes).
A 2006 study, conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine with the George Washington University and the University of Toronto, looked at the health benefits of a vegan diet on people with type 2 diabetes. Calories during this diet were not restricted, and participants were able to eat as many plant-based foods as they wanted. The results of this 22-week study were astounding:
- Forty-three percent of participants reduced their diabetes medications.
- The group lowered hemoglobin A1C (an index of blood glucose control) by 1.2 points, three times the change of other participants following the guidelines put forward from the American Diabetes Association.
- The meatless eaters loss twice as much weight as those participants following the ADA diet.
- There were substantial decreases in the vegan group’s total and LDL cholesterol levels compared to the ADA group.
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes:
Given the scientific research over the last 10 years on the vegan diet and its correlation to preventing type 2 diabetes, the solution to remain healthy seems quite obvious. Avoid these fatty foods that build up inside the muscle cells and the liver. Those who avoid all animal products obviously get no animal fat at all. There is much less fat buildup inside their cells, and their risk of developing diabetes is virtually zero.