Diabetes is often called a modern disease, and at least in respect of type 2 diabetes, the term has some merit.
The lifestyle factors governing the progression of type 2 diabetes are well-documented, but just as diet can be the origin of diabetes, it can also help reverse the condition.
While vested interests still cling to the notion that T2D is “incurable,” anyone who’s kept up-to-date with the latest research will know that to be false. In this blog, we aim to outline the recommended dietary changes to get rid of type 2 for good.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: What We Know
Dietary choices are incredibly important in both the management and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
More and more people are coming to this realisation as they starkly contemplate a lifetime on diabetes medication.
The fact that the progress of patients in treating diabetes has been so well publicised is yet another factor motivating the groundswell.
Four million Brits currently have T2D, and a dozen million more are categorised as ‘at risk’. In other words, one in four either have – or are at risk of – type 2 diabetes, entailing an annual NHS bill of £12 billion. The numbers are truly staggering.
But diabetes can be reversed, as shown by a study from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities. By following a strict low-calorie diet, you can unburden yourself of the symptoms and risks associated with the condition.
In the landmark study, 9 out of 10 subjects who lost 15kg (or more) put their T2D into remission. It’s all about tackling the underlying cause of the condition.
By reducing fat inside the liver and pancreas, the organs are restored to their proper function. No anti-diabetic medication or surgery required.
In this particular study subjects had to follow a strict calorie-controlled diet, eating no more than 825-853 calories per day, for a period of 3-5 months. The calories came from special soups and shakes which contained a healthy balance of nutrients.
After this initial phase was complete, solid foods were reintroduced. Diabetes UK director Dr Elizabeth Robertson believes the trial “has the potential to transform the lives of millions.”
The thing to remember is that if the weight piles back on, the diabetes will likely return.
The Glasgow/Newcastle study isn’t the only one. A male subject who followed a similar 800-calorie diet for TV experiment The Fast Fix showed no symptoms of diabetes after just four weeks. His liver fat percentage also shrunk from 27.5 to 7.5.
If achieving remission for this ‘chronic lifelong condition’ has been demonstrated, you might logically wonder why type 2 diabetes remains such a problem. A 2018 article in the British Medical Journal touched on this very disconnect.
“Advice on nutrition for diabetes is, at best, a printed menu given to the patient. In resource poor settings, when type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, often the patient leaves the clinic with a list of new medications and little else.”
Follow a Diabetic Diet Sheet to Control Blood Sugar
If you are determined to reverse your type 2 diabetes, you should think about mimicking the Glasgow/Newcastle trial. Speak to your doctor about this option, or consult a naturopathic practitioner or nutritionist.
Otherwise, there are some key things to bear in mind.
• Eliminate sugar and reduce starch-rich foods from your diet. Sugar is of course public enemy no. 1 when it comes to diabetes – meaning cakes, muffins and 90% of breakfast cereals are off the menu – but some people seem to forget that starch itself breaks down to produce glucose.
Starchy carbs are, in essence, concentrated sugar. Examples of starchy foods include potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. The GI of table sugar is actually similar to, or lower than, the GI of starchy foods like basmati rice, wholemeal bread and baked potato!
• Avoid all processed foods packed with empty calories (ready meals are serial offenders).
• Eat the right type of oils to promote healthy insulin action. Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and flaxseed oil are great. Avoid highly processed, pro-inflammatory vegetable oils like canola, corn, soybean etc.
• Avoid smoked or cured meats: bacon, smoked luncheon meat, SPAM and so forth.
• Don’t be fooled by artificially sweetened, zero-calorie drinks (Coke, Fanta etc).
• Restrict fruit to berries, apples, pears and baobab fruit; these are high in fibre and anthocyanins and don’t elevate blood sugar levels to the same extent as other fruits. They also impede digestive enzymes and, in doing so, slow the rate of digestion.
• Choose healthy whole grains like oatcakes, oatmeal and quinoa.
• Eat fish, particularly oily fish due to its beneficial effects on lipoproteins and reduction of CHD risk, not to mention its high protein content.
• Be wary of ‘low fat’ foods: they often contain hidden sugars or sweeteners to make them palatable.
• Eat plenty of vegetables, but do not overcook them; it affects the flavour and reduces the nutrient content. Lightly steam, bake or quickly stir-fry. Boiling is best reserved for soup, as most nutrients are left in the water. Red onions and garlic appear to be particularly helpful for blood sugar control.
Starchy vegetables such as parsnips, sweet potatoes and pumpkin should only be consumed if blood sugar levels are under control. Stick to leafy greens and low GI-load vegetables.
• Be sure to eat a few servings of legumes every day: anything from lima and black-eyed beans to chickpeas, lentils, soybeans and kidney beans. They are good sources of protein and soluble fibre. While canned vegetables/fruit are not recommended, canned beans are permissible because they retain their fibre content.
• Eat raw nuts and seeds, while avoiding those roasted in oils or coated with sugar.
• If you can tolerate dairy, a modest intake is allowed. Fermented dairy products such as natural yogurt and kefir are especially beneficial, particularly for microbial health.
• High-quality protein sources such as lean meats (chicken, turkey) are allowed.
Supplements for Blood Sugar Control
There are several natural supplements which could help you effectively manage blood sugar levels.
• Fenugreek seed powder
A 2014 study found that medium and high doses of fenugreek seed powder (5g > per day) correlated with major reductions in fasting blood glucose levels in diabetics. In fact, the effects were comparable to pharmaceutical treatments.
Daily consumption of resveratrol has been shown to aid glucose control and insulin sensitivity among diabetics.
According to a scientific review paper from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, curcumin – the orange pigment in turmeric – “could favourably affect most of the leading aspects of diabetes, including insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and islet apoptosis and necrosis.”
Because absorption is a common problem with curcumin, you are best served using a concentrated supplement such as Maximized Turmeric 46x to reap the anti-diabetic benefits.
• Vitamin D
The role of vitamin D in improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin – and thereby lowering the risk of insulin resistance – is becoming more understood.
A 2018 analysis of over 900 subjects found that having plasma levels of 25(OH)D greater than 30 ng/ml corresponded with a substantial reduction in later diabetes risk.
To achieve a vitamin D status of 30 ng/ml, those with a normal BMI would need a daily intake of at least 4,500 IU; obese individuals would require around 5,250 IU.
Our sublingual supplement from Frunutta delivers the cleanest form of Vitamin D3 available. Pop the tiny tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve. If there’s a quicker or easier way to get 5,000 IU into your system, we’d love to hear about it!
Probiotics – specifically high-strength probiotics – have shown promise as far as diabetes is concerned, with several studies indicating that Lactobacillus strains can lower glucose and insulin levels. Probiotics also appear to positively influence heart health, which is extra important if you have diabetes.
• Green Vibrance
Regularly consuming a green drink is a good idea if you’re battling diabetes. Green Vibrance is positively brimming with phytochemicals and antioxidants from dehydrated vegetables, cereal grasses, algae, fruit and botanical extracts.
One serving of this concentrated greens formula contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D, plus 50% or more of your daily vitamin A, iodine, selenium and vitamin C. Considered one of the most nutrient-dense green food powders on the market, it boasts Full Disclosure Labelling: so you can see exactly what you’re getting.
Mix Green Vibrance with water for the best results. One scoop provides 40 calories, with just 2g of carbohydrates and 1g of (natural) sugar.
It is quite clear that the main cause of T2D is the comparatively high carbohydrate intake among large sections of the population.
The work of award-winning GP Dr. David Unwin is particularly informative on this topic; by advocating a strict low-carb diet, the doctor has helped many patients recover from the condition in recent years.
For his work in improving standards of diabetic care, all while steadily reducing the drugs bill, Dr. Unwin was named NHS Innovator of the Year in 2016.
Preventing and treating TD2 is absolutely possible. Stick to a diabetic diet sheet composed of foods highlighted in this article, and avoid the sugar- and starch-laden foods which are your enemy. Exercise should also factor into your anti-diabetic lifestyle.
Get the dietary strategies and lifestyle changes right and you can look forward to a life free of diabetes.
Eat the right type of oils to promote healthy insulin action. Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and flaxseed oil are great. Avoid highly processed, pro-inflammatory vegetable oils like canola, corn, soybean etc.