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Millan, a member of the NutritionFacts.org community, told me her story recently. When she was 30, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Having struggled with obesity all her life, she had tried nearly every fad diet but, not surprisingly, would quickly gain back whatever she’d lost. Millan’s parents, brothers, and aunt were all diabetic, so she figured her own diagnosis was inevitable. She thought there was nothing she could do.

Her initial diagnosis was in 1970, and she lived as a diabetic for two decades. Then, in the 1990s, she switched to an entirely plant-based diet. Today, her energy levels are better than ever, she looks and feels younger, and she’s finally been able to maintain a healthy weight.

Millan didn’t find some wonder drug or trademarked diet. She simply decided to eat healthier food.

Type 2 diabetes has been referred to as the 21st century’s Black Death in terms of its exponential spread around the world and devastating health impacts. Instead of the bubonic plague, though, its pathological agents may be high-fat and high-calorie diets.

Type 2 diabetes, however, is almost always preventable, often treatable, and sometimes even reversible through diet and lifestyle changes. Like other leading killers—especially heart disease and high blood pressure—type 2 diabetes may be an unfortunate consequence of dietary choices. There is hope, though, even if you already have diabetes. Through lifestyle changes, you may be able to achieve a complete remission of type 2 diabetes, even if you’ve been suffering with the disease for decades.

People who eat a plant-based diet have been found to have just a small fraction of the diabetes rate seen in those who regularly eat meat. As diets become increasingly plant-based, there appears to be a stepwise drop in diabetes rates. Based on a study of 89,000 Californians, flexitarians (who eat meat maybe once weekly rather than daily) appear to cut their rate of diabetes by 28 percent, and those who cut out all meat except fish appear to cut their rates in half. What about those eliminating all meat, including fish? They appear to eliminate 61 percent of their risk. And those who go a step farther and drop eggs and dairy, too? They may drop their diabetes rates 78 percent compared with people who eat meat on a daily basis.

Image Credit: Jill Brown / Flickr. This image has been modified.

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