Transcript: Reversing Diabetes with Food
We've known for nearly a century and a half, since the 1870 siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, that type 2 diabetes could be reversed by an extreme reduction in food intake. This has since been demonstrated experimentally; by starving people enough, you can reverse diabetes. Diabetes specialists have long known that the tiny proportion of iron-willed diabetics who can substantially decrease their weight and maintain this can exhibit a return to normal metabolism.
A label is required to allow doctors to recognize and appropriately manage this subgroup who are willing to do anything to get rid of their diabetes. These are the Health-Motivated. At the time of diagnosis, the Health-Motivated individuals will benefit from being advised that they are likely to be able to reverse their diabetes completely by losing up to a fifth of their body weight. And then, only if they’re shown to be not sufficiently strongly motivated, should the routine guidelines for managing type 2 diabetes be rolled out, which include lots of drugs.
Unfortunately, the control of blood sugar with medication has proven to be unsustainable and may actually exacerbate obesity, making us put on more weight, and, thus, creating a vicious cycle. There’s got to be a better way.
Instead of starving oneself by eating less food, what if we instead just eat better food? Eating a diet that emphasizes all-you-can-eat greens, lots of vegetables, beans, some whole grains, nuts, and seeds, at least 90% plant-based. So, at least one big salad every day—like a pound of raw greens, veggie-bean soup, a handful of nuts and seeds, fruit at every meal, a pound of cooked greens, some whole grains, but no refined grains, junk food, or oil, and a restriction on animal products.
Thirteen diabetic men and women sticking to this diet for an average of seven months. How’d they do? Hemoglobin A1C is considered the best measure of blood sugar control. Below six is normal, non-diabetic, but the official American Diabetes Association target is to get diabetics at least down to 7. And anything above seven is uncontrolled diabetes. Here’s where they all started out after having diabetes for an average of more than seven years. Then, they started plowing in the plants: months 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. After about seven months, their average A1C dropped from a diabetic 8.2 down to a non-diabetic 5.8. The majority dropped down to normal, and this is after dropping most of their medications.
Now, this was a pilot study, just a handful of people, no control group, and included only people who could actually stick to the diet, a retrospective case series, considered one of the weakest forms of published evidence. However, the magnitude of the effect they found indicates that a high nutrient density diet can be very effective for some people.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.
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