Image Credit: Kristina DeMuth.

Plant-Based Diets Put to the Test for Diabetes

My Why Is Meat a Risk Factor for Diabetes? video shows how meat may play a role in increasing the risk of diabetes, and How May Plants Protect Against  Diabetes? and Plant-Based Diets and Diabetes discuss the potential protective role of healthy plant foods. But plant-based diets not only appear to guard against getting diabetes in the first place, they may successfully treat the disease better than the diabetic diets patients typically are placed on, benefiting both weight and cholesterol.

Diets based on whole plant foods can result in significant weight loss without limiting portion size or counting calories, because plant foods tend to be so calorically dilute. In my video Plant-Based Diets for Diabetes, you can see the volume of 100 calories of broccoli, tomatoes, and strawberries compared to 100 calories of chicken, cheese, or fish. People just can’t seem to eat enough of the plant foods to compensate for the calorie deficit, so they lose weight eating whole plant foods.

Most importantly, a plant-based diet works better. A plant-based diet beat out the conventional American Diabetes Association diet in a head-to-head, randomized, controlled clinical trial, without restricting portions and without calorie- or carb-counting. A review of all such studies found that those following plant-based diets experience improved reductions in blood sugars, body weight, and cardiovascular risk, compared with those on diets including animal products.

Cardiovascular risk is what kills diabetics the most. They’re more likely to get strokes, more likely to suffer heart failure. In fact, “[d]iabetes has been proposed as a coronary heart disease risk equivalent, which means diabetic patients without a history of coronary disease have an equivalent risk to that of nondiabetic individuals with confirmed heart disease.”

A newer study used a technique to actually measure insulin sensitivity. It improved on both diets in the first three months, but then the vegetarian diet pulled ahead. The researchers also found that the LDL cholesterol fell significantly in the vegetarian group. Indeed, that’s what we see when people are put on plant-based diets: Cholesterol comes down so much it can actually reverse the atherosclerosis progression—that is, reverse the progression of heart disease.

We know about the beneficial effect of a vegetarian diet on controlling weight, blood sugars, cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and oxidative stress compared to conventional diabetic diets, but what about quality of life and mental health? How did people feel after making such a dramatic change in their diets? In a randomized, controlled trial, study subjects were assigned either to a plant-based diet group or a control group. The plant-based group ate vegetables, grains, beans, fruits, and nuts with animal products limited to a maximum of one daily portion of low-fat yogurt. The control group followed an official diabetes diet.

Quality of life improved on both diets in the first three months, but, within six months, the plant-based group clearly pulled ahead. The same results were seen with depression scores: they dropped in both groups in the first three months, but started to rebound in the control group.

The bottom line is that the more plant-based diet “led to a greater improvement in quality of life and mood. Patients consuming a vegetarian diet also felt less constrained than those consuming the conventional diet.” People actually felt the conventional diabetic diet was more restrictive than the plant-based diet. Disinhibition decreased with a vegetarian diet, meaning those eating vegetarian were less likely to binge, and the subjects in the vegetarian group tended to feel less hungry. All of this helps with sustainability in the long term, which is, of course, critical for any dietary change. So, not only do plant-based diets appear to work better, but they may be easier to stick to. And, with the improvement in mood, patients may exhibit desired improvements not only in physical, but also in mental, health.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of what diabetes really is and what causes it, check out How Not to Die from Diabetes and this series of videos:

Thankfully, not only can diabetes be reversed, but so can some of its complications. See Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Reversed? and, for diabetic neuropathy, my live annual review From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food.

Of course, preventing it is better:

There are some foods that may increase the risk:

And others that may help:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

59 responses to “Plant-Based Diets Put to the Test for Diabetes

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    1. While I’m not aware of T1 specific research, my son’s experiences with a whole food plant based diet and T1 would indicate that the studies showing lower triglycerides/less fat in blood after eating/improved insulin sensitivity all apply to non-diabetics and people with T1 as well. My son has T1 and began a whole food plant based diet more than a year ago. He is 6′ 2″ and 168 pounds. His insulin sensitivity has improved just those studies for people with T2 have shown. This has resulted in a reduction of his total daily insulin by more than 30%, significantly less volatility in blood glucose values, and less insulin per carb (used to be 1:6 now 1:9 ratio). His A1c has also improved, with no other changes to his insulin therapy except for this diet (He was averaging 6.2 and his last 3 reading were 5.5-5.7). The coolest thing is the amount of carbohydrate he can eat. He used to limit his intake to 150-200g daily, averaging 60-75 per meal, all to avoid a significant post-meal spike. Now he can eat 200+g meals with a total spike of 50mg/dl or less. He averages 400-500g carbohydrate daily.

    2. I watched a documentary where Gabriel Cousens said that he had taken a few Type 1 Diabetics all the way off their insulin with diet.

      He said that 99% of Type 2 Diabetics get off their meds easily, but Type 1 is more complicated.

      In the documentary, he had one Type 1 Diabetic in the group and that young man got way down on his insulin, but wanted to drink alcohol, so we never got to see if he could have come all the way off.

      1. Somewhere (I think a Ted Talk) he said that he had a 20% success rate with Type 1 Diabetics, but he seems to have backed off of that statement. I think he only worked with a few Type 1 Diabetics at all.

        There is evidence that the gut can also produce insulin, and they are researching modified gut bacteria for activating that response, so healing the gut may be an important part of the picture.

        There are studies with probiotics helping with Diabetes. (I am not saying that it was with Type I Diabetics, but…. the gut can produce insulin, it is something Big Pharma and self-hackers play with.)

        It might be worth it to increase probiotic foods like Kimchi, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Natto, Miso and Tempeh and see what happens.

        1. I will also post these anecdotal case studies for use of systemic enzymes. This is a Dr. Wong and I have never heard of him and can’t promise that he isn’t lying, but if he is telling the truth, it is interesting.

          I used systemic enzymes for a few months, when I was trying to get rid of cancer symptoms. Not sure if it worked for that, but something did work, but I highly don’t recommend it for that.

          (I was doing so many things that I don’t point people to that at all for that, because they are ridiculously expensive at the doses they use for cancer treatment and you have to take so many pills that you get so sick of pills, plus, there is a study Dr. Greger posted where people taking enzymes died before the people getting traditional medical care. The enzyme doctor said that the study was done in a way where the results were meaningless and that it wasn’t a reflection on what he was seeing clinically, but I wouldn’t do them again. I would do as much broccoli sprouts and turmeric and garlic and onions and Brussel sprouts and kale and cabbage and Matcha tea and every other super food as possible, which is ALSO what I was doing..)

          The biggest thing I could say about the enzymes was that the swelling in my injured ankle went down while I was taking them. It went up again when I stopped taking it.

          People use systemic enzymes for pain relief and for bacterial overgrowth and that bacterial overgrowth part is why I ponder them if healing the gut is a secondary pathway to help Type I Diabetes.

          I am not a doctor. I watch Ted Talks and if they give things like “The gut also can produce insulin” then I look up everything possible on how to heal the gut.

          I met someone who had their bacteria examined by a naturopath/MD and she said that she was missing one whole important strain of bacteria.

          (If I lived near Cornell where they did the bacteria to cause the gut to produce insulin, I would be over there shaking hands with the person who did the study, trying to get some of the bacteria off of them…)

      2. I would take any and all claims made by Cousens with a very large grain of salt. He is not exactly an uncompromising proponent of evi8dence based medicine and as for that video

        “Surgeon and alternative medicine critic David Gorski said that Cousens and the film both grossly misrepresented the modern medical approach to diabetes. Gorski described Cousens works as promoting vitalism and other discredited principles.[23]

        Legal actions
        In 1994, California revoked his license to practice for “excessive prescribing”, but based on a form of plea bargain this revocation was stayed for three years probation.[24] In consequence of the California decision, New York also required him to return his license.[25] Cousens’ license in California was later reinstated, but not in New York. Because of this, he is not eligible for a medical license in Arizona.[26]

        In 1998, 57-year-old Charles Levy of New Jersey died after being treated at the center over a five-day period. The cause of death was determined by the Santa Cruz County Medical Examiner, who along with the Arizona Medical Board attributed the death to a gas gangrene infection caused by “bovine adrenal fluid” injections given by Cousens as part of a treatment for fatigue.[26][27][28] The autopsy also found that Levy had hepatitis, encephalomyelitis, and coronary atherosclerosis.[27] Levy’s son said that his father was healthy, able to run three miles, not overweight, and had no high blood pressure at the time of his visit to the spa, and the family sued for malpractice.[26] Cousens settled the suit for an undisclosed amount paid to the family.[29] The case came up before the Arizona Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners in 2001. Despite the medical examiner’s report and testimony, then Board Chairman Bruce Shelton said he “found no medical fault with Dr. Cousens’ care of” Levy and the board found “no violation of homeopathic law” in Cousens’ treatment.[26][28] Cousens argued that the medical examiner had misdiagnosed the cause of death, which he said was toxic shock unrelated to the injections, a claim that the Levy family attorney called “outrageous”.[28]”

    3. I don’t know about any studies particularly for Type 1 but I know from experience that a plant based diet changed my life and health for the better. I’m Type 1 diabetic since I was 4 years old and I’m 36 now. My A1C always ran between 7.4 to 8.2 prior to a diet change. After my A1C has been 6.2 and 6.6. I’ve never in 32 years had that good an A1C. Also, I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, another autoimmune disease and told that after 18 months I would not go into remission. Well 3 years later on a plant based diet I have been in remission for 8 months so far. I can’t wait to see my cholesterol results when that gets tested. I also feel better than I ever have. I would highly recommend a plant based diet for anyone but especially diabetics because of all the health problems we are already prone to because of the disease.

      1. Wow, Kristy!

        That is fabulous!

        Hooray for remission!

        My carpenter is a Type 1 Diabetic and he talked about how hard it was to be a Diabetic as a child. I can’t get him to try WFPB yet. Hoping someday, but he is a finicky eater.

    4. Hi, Neal! You may be interested in the work of James Anderson, M.D. One of his studies looked at the effects of a high-fiber, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet on both type-1 and type-2 diabetics. After three weeks, the type 1 diabetic patients were able to lower their insulin medication by an average of 40% and their blood sugar profiles improved as well.
      Someone else in the comments section has already mentioned this, but you may find the website helpful as well.

    5. This is my story of getting from 8.01 to a blood fasting reading of 5.04 between September to October 2017 last year. I looked up online what my recommended calorie intake should be for my weight, height, and daily activity and they gave me three recommendations, 1) to maintain my weight, 2) to lose weight gradually and one to lose weight faster. My plan was for me to really speed up my healing so I even went a bit below my reading s to 900 per one day meal, but I didn’t bother counting calories for lettuce, cucumber, onion, and tomato. I chose an easy way to count calories by choosing supermarket food with the calories on them.. so every day at one meal only around between to 3.30pm I had two hard-boiled eggs, one portion of oven baked fish in batter, and one chicken in crumbs oven baked, along with the salad mentioned. I then would have an apple or orange and I only had clean bottled water. After this, I would not eat anything until the same time next day. I also had high blood pressure for years.
      I walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes every day. One month later I achieved my goal. I was not really overweight in that I looked fat I carry my weight on the upper part of my body with slim waist and hips.

      Doctors were surprised when I told them what my diet was until they saw the results before them, they could not be critical,l I got my results. After Christmas feast, I was a bit scared of having another reading but when I had to see the sister in my local medical center I asked her for a pinprick reading and two hours before I had eaten some negative food but she said my reading was normal. this was two months ago. My blood pressure has come down but now the medicine is having side effects so need to lower them or find the correct one. It is dangerous just to stop taking beta bloc. So I was a diabetic 2 for two years.
      Since all this, I have told people about this even on places like here, and another moderator has criticised me because he doesn’t like people to eat meat and goes on about important tests and their long-term finding as such. But my short-term finding is that I don’t have diabetes anymore!

      1. Both weight loss and low calories diets have been shown to reverse diabetes. Your story is not unusual in that respect. McDougall’s website also has testimonials from people who lost weight and reversed their diabetes.

        The concern in your case arises from the fact that low carb diets are associated with greater mortality. And, in particular, high protein diets are associated with a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality. Further

        “Notably, our results showed that the amount of proteins derived from animal sources accounted for a significant proportion of the association between overall protein intake and all-cause and cancer mortality. These results are in agreement with recent findings on the association between red meat consumption and death from all-cause and cancer (Fung et al., 2010; Pan et al., 2012). Previous studies in the U.S. have found that a low carbohydrate diet is associated with an increase in overall mortality and showed that when such a diet is from animal-based products, the risk of overall as well as cancer mortality is increased even further (Fung et al., 2010; Lagiou et al., 2007). Our study indicates that high levels of animal proteins, promoting increases in IGF-1 and possibly insulin, is one of the major promoters of mortality for people age 50–65 in the 18 years following the survey assessing protein intake.”

        1. As I said in my comment I decided to go on a severe diet of 900 calories per day to get rid of my disease quicker, I did not say that this was my diet for the rest of my life, your assumptions are wrong.  I had a plan and it worked. My parent and mother in law have all eaten protein all their long lives well into their 90’s, in fact, my mother in law scares me because she fries beacon in the pan with oil, when she saw how alarmed I was she said at her age she doesn’t worry about it. She had cancer in her throat as a young child and survived, it came back in her jaw, later on, she had a breast removed aged 36 and since then she has had five melanomas. She is 93 and does not have any other problems and likes to get out and go on trips a few days a week, and has only recently stopped driving.  So I don’t take notice of all these researchers at all,  By the way I am a young and young looking 69-year-old woman the main thing to me is I got rid of the disease and whether it is common or not I highly recommend people try it out and then re-adjust to a normal diet but not go over their recommended calories for their body, age, and lifestyle. My husband dropped dead of a heart attack in front of me when he was fifty-four, he was a vegetarian.

            1. Tom, I am telling my story what I did and diabetes is dangerous too and I don’t have it anymore. So mission accomplished.  People can make their own minds up.

            2. TG,

              Why do you characterize a low-carb diet as also being “high protein?” Almost always, a low carb diet goes along with a moderate amount of protein in the diet- around 20% in my experience.

              And the study to which you refer above is an epidemiological study- by definition, it is unable to establish cause and effect. And in that study, a high protein diet was associated with lower cancer rates and all-cause mortality in people over 65. The devil is in the details.

              1. Good questions and points, David. Ann has indicated that she “cured”- more or less- her diabetes with a combination high fat/high protein(percentage wise) and low calorie diet. It was pointed out that “low carb diets are associated with greater mortality. And, in particular, high protein diets are associated with a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality.”.

                However, diabetes is associated with higher mortality in virtually all diseases. In whatever manner she did it, she took an “8.01 to a blood fasting reading of 5.04 between September to October 2017 last year.”, IOW, cured or at least(if still on meds) vastly improved her diabetes. Therefore, even if she did it with 3000 cal/day of protein, or 3000cal/day fat, or 3000 cal/day carb, or some low calorie whatever combo, whatever, she has by definition joined a much lower mortality group.

                If low carb and/or protein actually does increase mortality and especially diabetes mortality, it matters not in her case, seems to me, as thy(high % protein/fat) greatly decreased her odds of mortality and especially diabetes mortality, or at the very least did not at all interfere with her lack of calories kicking diabetes rear end. Thus bottom line greatly reducing her risk of mortality.

                Also, I would like to see the study that shows that a low calorie high sugar(Twinky) diet would deliver such an impressive result. Because I personally have nor seen that study. I have linked to studies here showing high fat/low carb to be far superior to low fat/low calorie in improving diabetes, but I think some felt that study was from a biased source.

                1. I have a friend who was put on Ornish for heart reasons (she is type 1). She’s extremely thin – not underweight but borderline. She switched because she was having trouble controlling her blood sugar because of the carbs required (fruits, grains). (And, yes, she was following religiously.) She is now on a higher fat / low carbohydrate diet with some meat and her blood sugar was better than it’s ever been for the three month period since she started this diet. Type 1 is different than Type 2, so I’m not sure her experience applies to most, since her body cannot produce any insulin. I’d be interested to hear any thoughts on this.

                  1. Corinnemc,Indeed, Type 1 diabetes(T1D) is different than Type 2 diabetes(T2D). In fact, they are opposite. The former is not enough(or any) insulin, the latter is too much. Too much insulin(starting during pre-diabetes or before) causes all sorts of problems, leading to the insulin resistance that finally gets us to T2D. Where the types are similar is that both are a lack of ability to manage the sugar that is eaten. And the sugar that reaches the blood stream of course comes from either actual sugar consumed, or from the non fiber carbs that are eaten and broken down into sugar after digestion. All end up as sugar(glucose) in the blood, and the pancreas responds by secreting insulin, if it is able to. Which of course it can’t in T1D, so the drug insulin must be administered.
                    The somewhat surprising thing regarding your friend is that, even though presumably on an Ornish vegan diet, she had trouble controlling her blood sugar, which I suppose was attempted by injecting insulin. Since Ornish typically is, in effect, both fairly low calorie and relatively low net carb(lots of veggies which are low carb after subtracting the indigestible fiber) and of course above all low fat(especially saturated). Still, it does make the point about what a challenge it can be to manage the incoming sugars. And even in T1D, if very little sugar is going in, then that is that much less sugar which must be dealt with. Which apparently can be beneficial even for T1 diabetics.

                    Also, after all, if not much fat is going in(Ornish), the calories for energy must come from somewhere else. And, the body can also make sugar from protein(gluconeogenesis), and even fat! Protein can also stimulate insulin production(like carb does) but also stimulates glucagon, which is sort of an anti-insulin, having opposite results. All of this allows the body to maintain the minimal amounts of glucose needed for certain functions even when no sugar/carb is being consumed, and even when fat(ketones) are providing most of the needed energy. But bottom line is: if very little sugar is going in, there will be very little need for insulin, whether produced by the body or injected by those whose bodies can not produce it(T1D). Maybe that is why your friend did so much better on the “higher fat / low carbohydrate diet”? I don’t know, I am just guessing. But it does seem reasonable that if you must inject insulin to manage your blood sugar, the lower the sugar consumed the less insulin needed, maybe even much, much less.Bill

                    1. Thanks, Bill. I was surprised. Maybe her diet was high in fruit on the Ornish, I don’t know. But this higher protein/fat content is working for her, which is a major challenge –

      2. Anne Brookes, it may not be vegan, but I certainly would not expect you to have diabetes with a very low carb diet like that, especially when fasting all but a few hours a day. I am not at all surprised by your results. I suspect that your net carb input is quite low. If you ar not putting the sugar into your system, your odds of having T2D – aka sugar diabetes- are very low. So you got your A1C down from 8 to 5? No more proof of theory is needed.

        1. Bill, also it could well be that I did intermittent fasting too, have you looked into that? and I forgot to mention that all through theone month diet I took Alma powder which is recommended for diabetes.My diet now is fewer eggs  and more salads and vegetables and protein has always been the size of my palm re fish or chicken, no red meat at all.That diet was until I got a better fasting blood reading and it just happened tooccur after a month of doing it.  I was never on any medication for diabetes, just blood pressure, and diuretic ones.

          1. Anne, you say you were never on any diabetes meds, just BP and diuretics. Are you still needing those meds after such a huge improvement in your A1C?

            1. Hello Bill, no I was never on any meds for diabetes at all, I don’t take diuretics every day and over the last eight years before this diet, I had a hard time with getting the right blood pressure tablets to use with Metropol to bring the reading down.  I have decreased the Metropol but I do need to still take them.  During the diet I also took two tablespoons of flax seeds which I ground myself then added the powder to warm water with Alma powder which is the Indian Gooseberry known to help diabetes.  Also, note that my cholesterol is considered normal by my doctors even after the diet.  I was able to do this diet because of the fear of going blind, this made me stick with it and be determined, not everyone could do it.  Fasting for the one meal to the one the next day played a big role (I think) to my good outcome.  Now I decided to take Withania every day as a precaution since it seems to be good for fighting diseases. I am an active person I get up the ladder and clean the gutters I saw the branches off my trees etc.  I am glad I did this diet.

              1. Thanks for the reply, Anne! I’m glad you were able to get that diabetes under control withput meds, particularly insulin!

    6. Also, just read this in the 3/14/2018 issue of New Scientist:

      A HIGH-VEG diet can help treat type 2 diabetes – and it seems to do this by altering gut bacteria.
      Liping Zhao at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and his colleagues compared the effects of two diets in people with type 2 diabetes. Over 12 weeks, 16 people followed a low-fat, low-carb diet, while 27 people ate a lot of high-fibre foods, such as wholegrains and vegetables. Both groups also took a drug that slows the digestion of starch, allowing it to reach the large intestine, where microbes feed upon it.”

    7. A plant based diet can have significant beneficial effects on type 1 diabetes. Please watch where Dr. Gabriel Cousins in Arizona treats 5 diabetes patients with diet alone for one month. One of them had type 1 diabetes and dramatically reduced the amount of medication he had to take.
      In my opinion this video is a must watch for all diabetics type 1 and 2.

    1. The Australian Diabetes representative gave me some diet sheets to follow before I chose my own diet, Right away I saw that it was a diet plan to ease people into healthier eating habits yet they allowed them to eat by some pasta, bread, and rice, which to me is silly because had I eaten those I may not have got my diabetes cured! When I was a bit hungry on my severe diet I would eat plenty of green salad and heaps of raw onions with garlic but no root vegetables and not too much fruit. My cholesterol, by the way, is 4.20 down from 4.50 after eating eggs and chicken and fish every day for a whole month.

    2. I’ve pulled the study referenced. The diet was that advised by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. It advised limits on various macronutrients without specifying their sources.It appears that a WFPB diet would fall into this guidelines, but so would eating meat, eggs, and cheese as long as the total macronutrient limits weren’t exceeded.

      Including whole plant foods is as or more important that meeting macronutrient (fat/sugar) limits.

      Here’s the description from the article: “The conventional diabetic diet was administered according to thedietary guidelines of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group(DNSG) of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes(EASD) [7]. It contained 50% of energy from carbohydrates,20% protein, less than 30% fat ( < 7% saturated fat, less than 200 mg/day of cholesterol/day)."

      Hope that's useful! Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  1. I wish articles like this made a distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Saying that ‘diabetes can be reversed’ is frustrating for people with type 1.

    1. I so agree! My best friend has Type 1. It cannot be reversed. But I would love to see videos here about the benefits of WFPB for Type 1er’s. If there are studies that support Toby’s son’s experience, for example, that would be great to know.

  2. I am seeing more and more people advocating extremely low-carb diets—less than 30 grams of carbs per day—paired with a diet high in fat and moderate in protein.

    In March 2017 a Silicon Valley startup, Virta Health launched. Virta published a 10-week study showing that its approach drives strong outcomes: 1% improvement in A1c (from 7.6% to 6.6%), significant medication reductions (especially in insulin users), and an average 7% body weight loss. Is this the real deal? What are the downsides?

    Here is the 10-week study:

    The study had no control group, and the participants may not be typical of people with type 2 diabetes as a whole, so it is hard to draw strong conclusions at this point.

    Here is another study:

      1. I was watching a Dr. McDougall video, talking about ketosis:

        I never figured out the difference between Atkins and Keto, but he called Atkins a Ketogenic diet.

        Dr. Greger has a book and website debunking Atkins.

        I will give a few of the bigger risk concepts:



        Kidney problems:

        Bone loss:

        There is a strange thing with cholesterol, where you seem to be improving, but only while you are losing weight, followed by a dramatic rise:

        Serious heart problems: The picture related to that is on this web site. I think in the How Not to Die of Heart Disease part.

        There were also things like impotence and young people dying after 7 weeks and things like that.

        On top of those, the way doctors like Barnard and McDougall and Fuhrman and Greger promoting WFPB are actually reversing diabetes by getting the saturated fats out of the Pancreas and Keto is putting saturated fats into the body.

        Dr, Cousens said that he was able to get something like 90% of his clients off of their diabetes meds in as few as 4 days.

        Keto might get people off of insulin, but you might die from Heart Disease or Cancer and might be impotent and it doesn’t actually heal Diabetes. It just stops you from having as high of blood sugar.

        It is like buying a ticket for the Titanic and justifying the decision by having a seat near the life boats. I use the Titanic, because you lose weight and look good, but increase the statistical likelihood of heart attack and Cancer and kidney problems.

        1. Thank you. The sales pitch for Virta hits all of the hot buttons. I know they received $37 million last year from VC firms and just this month another $45 million in Series B funding. I’m sure with headlines like “Virta Health Hauls in $45M to Expand “Diabetes-Reversing” Software” and “Virta Health raises $45M to reverse type 2 diabetes” they will get millions of diabetics investigating further. Hopefully, they’ll dig deeper.

        2. Deb,

          The links you provided are to bad studies. They don’t refute any of the claims of those who advocate the ketogenic diet. You are conflating many things here. The link to the cardiac imaging paper is not what you claim. The 10 people in the study who went off the low-fat diet adopted a high protein diet. That is absolutely not a ketogenic diet. In a ketogenic diet, a person consumes around 15-20% of their calories in the form of protein. That is not a high protein diet. So the cardiac imaging paper really had nothing to do with ketogenic diets.

          I recommend going to the primary sources instead of relying on people with an agenda to report the results of studies. That is a very bad idea. “” is just such an example.

          This is the link to the primary paper:

          Watching Dr. McDougall is frustrating because he obviously doesn’t even know the difference between the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet. That being the case, he shouldn’t be making claims about the ketogenic diet. They are very different.

          And Gregers does the very same thing- he conflates Atkins and the ketogenic diet. They are both either being slippery and slick or they truly don’t understand the difference.

          What is the effect of the ketogenic diet on lipids? Sometimes people do see total cholesterol and LDL go up temporarily. Then they typically come down. Triglycerides decrease significantly and HDL goes up. These are almost always far more important and are a very good thing.

          But the superficial concern about an increase in LDL is naive. LDL particles include a broad spectrum of particles- small, dense particles and large, buoyant particles. A ketogenic diet decreases the small, dense LDL particles and increases the large, buoyant particles. It turns out that the small, dense LDL particles are the ones that are atherogenic, or cause atherosclerosis. It is more nuanced than Greger and others allude to. Again, they either don’t understand or are not providing all of the appropriate information.

          When people lower the saturated fat in their diet, the Lp(a) levels go up. Lp(a) is a sort of hybrid lipoprotein particle in the blood that is atherogenic. Increase carbs, lower saturated fat, and Lp(a) goes up. Cut carbs and increase saturated fat, and Lp(a) goes down. Lp(a) is a far better predictor of cardiac disease than total cholesterol or LDL.

          The number of LDL particles in a person’s blood is a more important factor than the LDL-C level. It is NOT the total cholesterol content of those particle carriers that matters. It is the number of carrier particles that matters most. And a low-carb, high fat diet decreases particle number in the vast majority of people. High carb diets increase particle number.

          I eat 400 grams of fat per day, 200 of those grams are saturated fat. My total cholesterol is 174. My LDL is 91. But more importantly, my ApoB100 (a measure of particle number) is 66. Triglycerides are 50. VLDL is 10. This is typical of a person on a ketogenic diet.

          Pay attention to details and don’t take people’s word.

    1. I have a good friend who is Type 1 and went on the Ornish plan and had so much trouble controlling her blood sugar that she went off. She’s now on a ketogenic diet (staying away from “bad fats”) but high in protein (including meat), very low carbs and plenty of fat – she says her blood sugar control is now much better. This is just one person’s experience and I’ve been reading here that people with type 1 have had good luck with blood sugar control from a whole foods plant based diet, so I don’t know. — She is very thin.

      1. Not necessary to do high protein, if the person is too thin, then yes, need high plant fats. But it’s true that in some diabetics eating very low carb is all that helps them to have normal blood sugars.
        But they can have lots of low carb vegetables, most all vegetables except root veggies are pretty low carb except tomatoes and onions.
        Unfortunately most gorge on protein instead of eating the healthy vegetables, berries, nuts, olives and avocados for satiety and calories.
        Most can tolerate some lentils or other beans, certainly soybean proteins like tofu and edamame. Meat is not necessary or desirable.

    2. Tony

      I think that it is undeniable that low carb diets can improve bloodwork and other biomarkers in people with diabetes. They can be helpful if the diets also assist people to lose weight since overweight/obesity causes many changes in bodily processes, some of which drive diabetes.

      The problem is that no one knows about the long tem risks of these diets (low carb diets generally are associated with increased mortality). The other problem is that the people on these diets still have diabetes (and indeed may be worsening it), it’s just that the most obvious symptoms of diabetes are not being provoked by dietary carbohydrates.

      Note that the Virta study was led by Phinney and Volek who are intimately connected with the Atkins empire and have written several books promoting the Atkins diet. I don’t have the time to critique to criticise the study design but they have published a number of studies in the past all seemingly validating low carb and Atkins type diets. The second study was also led by Phinney and Volek, Note that both studies were funded by their company Virta (previously known as KetoThrive). There is a possibility that both studies were carefully designed to deliver results favourable to companies selling keto/low carb/Atkins producs and services. Certainly these were not studies by independent reserachers – they were studies by people with significant financila conflicts of interest.

      If diabetes is indeed a disease of fat toxicity, then low carb diets such as these coud be significantly increasing risk for complications from diabetes such as kidney damage, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer further down the line.

      Note that there are vegetarian low carb diet options (such as Eco-Atkins) and these appear not to deliver the same increase in mortality (generally) as animal-foods based low carb/keto diets. So this is not a vegetarian vs non vegetarian thing.

      However, my argument would be to ask why take a risk on low carb diets when WFPB diets have been shown to deliver similar or better improvements in T2D with lower risk for the chronic diseases associated with high animal protein and fat consumption.

      1. TG,

        Could you provide reference(s) for the claim that a low-carb diet results in increased mortality. I am a enthusiastic student of the literature and am not away of any such data.

        As to the claim that individuals with type 2 diabetes who do these diets continue to have diabetes, and even a worsening of the diabetes- I don’t believe this is a claim that can be backed up with quality data. I am familiar with studies showing improved insulin sensitivity and the ketogenic diet.

        Also- could you explain why you believe Phinney and Volek etc. are “intimately connected to the Atkins Empire?” These researching have a long history of doing very well designed, very well controlled studies before Virta even existed. Their studies truly lead the way in study design and methodology. Most others are very poorly controlled or are epidemiology studies- almost worthless.

        Diabetes isn’t a disease caused by fat toxicity. That is a fundamental misunderstanding of many folks from the vegan community. The presence of too much fat in cells is the result of insulin resistance, not the cause. Elite athletes have fat droplets in their muscle. So claiming that the mere presence of fat in muscle cells explains insulin resistance doesn’t work.

        Again- there is no decent data that suggests ketogenic diets result in higher mortality. Or even low car diets.

  3. I was watching a video on YouTube that Dr. Greger produced some time back on how just taking a few spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar mixed in your water with your mills will help to reduce insulin resistance, plus it will help to reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and help one to lose some weight. The botton line of Dr. Greger’s video is that taking a little apple cider vinegar can help you to avoid type 2 diabetes along with a whole plant food diet. It’s just a matter of time and a computer glitch or someone is going to push the wrong button by accident and start WW III, so I am going to stock up on apple cider vinegar. It has a really long shelf life. America is bent on taking down Syria, this could trigger WW III by accident or by design. So, I am stocking up on a lot of grains because they have a really long shelf life, but now I am adding apple cider vinegar to my list. I want to make sure that I can still have all of the food necessary to eat Dr. Gregger’s daily dozen if the electrical grid goes down for a real long time.

  4. There is a video on youtube about ten people with Diabetes 1 and 2, they went off into a remote house and under the guidance of dieticians and doctors they lived on a strict vegetarian diet for 30 days, one man, a meat eater all his life and was in bad condition with lower blue legs, he left the place after a couple of weeks because he could not stand the diet. It was also very hard for a woman who was in the program. At the end of the experiment, all of the people were either cured or had a great benefit for changing their diet. Many years ago I went on a diet of just vegetables, plenty of them and I became bloated and overweight but this is because I was cooking them wrong. In my experience, if you reduce calories intake you can eat anything, even chicken, fish, and eggs… avoid fat, sugar, and flour.

  5. Just in passing thought I may mention…Half paid attention to a you tube vegan couple who have quite a few followers doing a review of a doc.
    This medical doc was on some other you tube channels to include Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan being a paleo fan.
    Curiously he has endeavored a diet of entirely meat. You would think he would know a bit enough to think this will lead to deficiency but he apparently has not.

    The couple reported upon the fact he has decided to do some blood work and another channel, a paleo supporter I think, came in with a review of the results.
    They hem and haw(the paleo site) and say this and that but…the doc apparently is marginal diabetic by the blood works results now and surprisingly his testosterone is off the charts… not up…down like equal to a ninety year old male.
    Scurvy of course is the most notable immediate consequence which can indeed lead to death. Don’t know the exact course of the disease however if these findings are normal for one entering into that thing. This fellow has some theory the body can manufacture its own vit C which is of course absurd.

    Could find and post the video of the vegan site review if any are interested. A medical doc….amazing.
    Struck a cord the idea carbohydrates causes type 2 diabetes, which is also of course absurd. This fellow is diabetic or certainly leading that way without a shred of carbohydrates.
    Though once diabetic simple carbs certainly do no one any good.

  6. Wait a minute….I thought there was no such thing as a “diabetic diet” as was referred to in the article. I’ve been plant-based for 1 yr. and am off all meds (I’m a diabetic), so I can verify the benefits of going plant-based, but was just wondering what the diabetic diet is that was referred to.

  7. Julie,

    There isn’t….. dependent on who you ask….. ie. PBWF diets and those that eliminate animal products show a marked improvement in diabetic parameters. Hence, some folks call them a “diabetic diet”.

    We should all be eating with an aim toward normalized blood sugars.

    Dr. Alan Kadish Health Support volunteer for Dr. Greger</a

    1. Thank you for clarifying that point. In my diabetes support group, they think a diabetic diet is really carb counting, (i.e. 30-45g per meal and 15g carbs per snack). I really dislike those parameters as I think they keep us fat and sick. And most diabetics end up frustrated and overwhelmed, because they also try to watch sugars, fat, calories and other things, which keep them confused.

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