Monday, October 25, 2010

A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Can Help Reverse Diabetes

A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Can Help Reverse Diabetes

" Significant benefits for diabetes prevention and management have been observed with vegetarian and especially vegan diets. Research to date has demonstrated that a low-fat, plant-based nutritional approach improves control of weight, glycemia, and cardiovascular risk. These studies have also shown that carefully planned vegan diets can be more nutritious than diets based on more conventional diet guidelines, with an acceptability that is comparable with that of other therapeutic regimens. Vegetarian and vegan diets present potential advantages in managing type 2 diabetes that merit the attention of individuals with diabetes and their caregivers. " ND Barnard MD Usefulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for treating type 2 diabetes

Four years ago, I became vegan overnight after watching a documentary on factory farms and the way animals are unnecessarily tortured and mutilated. Since then, I started this blog and began contributing to various magazines and online publications as an outspoken advocate of the Vegan and Green communities. Every once in a while, something happens that incites conversation on the topic of going vegan--a beef recall, a salmonella outbreak, tainted water supply, or a new startling statistic. Recently something happened closer to home. A very close family member of mine was diagnosed with diabetes and I began to take a closer look at the alternatives to traditional diabetes drugs. Although the answer was clear to me--go vegan--I found that many doctors now agree that a low-fat vegan diet can reverse the symptoms if well-planned and monitored.

Prior to Dr. Neal D. Barnard's groundbreaking study on the effects of a low-fat vegan diet in patients with diabetes, most physicians believed diabetes had no cure or treatment with the exception of drugs. The truth is, a carefully planned low-fat unrefined vegan diet helps patients with diabetes shed excess weight, and helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that patients in the study responded positively and found unexpected benefits like improved asthma conditions and mental outlook as a result of losing weight and being self-sufficient without needing drugs. The American Diabetes Association low fat non-vegan diet study patients continued to need the diabetes medications, lost less weight, and had a lower reduction of protein loss in the urine than the vegan diet patients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2007, 23.5 million or 10.8% of individuals age 20 or older had diabetes and 12.2 million or 23.1% of individuals over 60 had diabetes in the United States. The statistics are shocking. Direct medical costs of this disease are estimated at $117 Billion dollars per annum and indirect costs (loss of work, disability) are estimated at $58 Billion per annum reaching a total of $174 Billion dollars in Diabetes related costs each year. The likelihood is high that someone you know currently has the disease or is starting to show symptoms.
Image of a bar graph.  Detailed information is available by clicking on the image or by following the link below.
Estimated prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in people aged 20 years or older, by age group, United States, 2007

People who switch to a vegan diet find that food costs are significantly lowered compared to a diet consisting of meat and animal products. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes are less expensive than beef, pork, chicken, or seafood. Although in some cases vegan food seems to cost more for the fast food consumers and those who purchased predominantly processed foods. However, the savings in medical costs for patients with diabetes far outweigh the slightly higher cost of some "specialty" foods.

The American Diabetes Association now also acknowledges that a low-fat vegan diet is more effective than their recommended ADA nutritional guidelines based on the study results:
"Eating right and exercising are the best ways for patients with type 2 diabetes to begin to treat their disease. This study shows that a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA nutrition recommendations can help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood glucose levels and lower their chances for heart and blood vessel problems. These improvements were greater with the low-fat vegan diet." -American Diabetes Association

For diabetes reversal or prevention, switching to a low-fat vegan diet is proven to be more effective with longer lasting effects than previously thought. There are many reasons to eat healthier and smarter. *Please be well-informed before making any changes to your diet and consult a physician for careful monitoring of medications and sugar levels.*

"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined." Dr Neal D Barnard


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