Believe it or not: YES you can!
Type 2 diabetes is so tightly connected to diet and lifestyle factors, that by changing what you eat and the amount of physical activity you do, you can actually prevent and reverse the condition! (1) Incidences of Type II Diabetes are at an all-time high in North America. (7) Dr. David Mathews describes it as “The Black Plague of the 21st century.” These sky-high incidence levels, are a direct reflection of the current and rather poor state of the “Standard American Diet” (SAD)(4).
The acronym, “SAD”, used to refer to the average North American diet, is certainly no misnomer when we consider the amount of chemicals, processed sugars, meats, and fast foods that are consumed by most individuals on a daily basis. We have forgotten that the earth can provide us with all we need to thrive with optimal health.
What is Type II Diabetes?
Type II Diabetes occurs when the body no longer responds to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that the body produces to regulate blood sugar levels.(3) When the body is constantly being fed meat, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and refined sugars, combined with a lack of physical activity, receptors can become overworked and no longer able to respond to the insulin being secreted.(4) This is when diabetes sets in, as the body becomes incapable of regulating its blood sugar levels.
The good news is that Type II Diabetes can be beaten through diet and lifestyle modifications alone. In fact, research suggests that a diet rich in animal products, refined oils, and sugars, and lacking in plant fibre is the number one reason for the cause and perpetuation of this condition.(6)
What many don’t know, is that for over 70 years, numerous successful studies have documented the ability to treat individuals struggling with Type II Diabetes, by employing high fiber, plant based diets, without medications.(4) Today, more and more doctors all around the world are recognizing the importance of prescribing nutritious foods as a way to beat Diabetes and other chronic conditions. Take Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a medical doctor of New York, who has a complete meal plan he gives to his patients struggling with Type II Diabetes which he calls the “Eat to Live” or “Nutritarian” diet plan.(11)
So How Can You “Eat to Beat” Type II Diabetes?
1) Eat MORE GREEN goodness: leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, arugula, romaine, and Swiss chard are excellent examples. These are all full of plant fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols (just to name a few amazing properties)- all of which are essential for keeping our bodies functioning optimally and therefore avoiding Type II Diabetes.(8)
Don’t be afraid to get creative with how you eat your greens: put them in smoothies, juice them, bake them, sauté them, add them to your sauces, or make them the base of any plate!
2) Go PLANT BASED and ditch the meat! Plant based diets are substantially higher in fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium which have all been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.(9) Not to mention plant based diets are much lower in cholesterol, saturated fat, and glycotoxins all of which contribute to inflammation in our bodies and the risk of developing Type II Diabetes.(9)
In fact, glycotoxins (present in animal meats) have recently been found to be the “missing link” explaining the relationship between an increased consumption of meat and the consequent development of Type II Diabetes.(10)
3) Stay AWAY from REFINED SUGARS: refined sugars cause severe spikes in blood sugar levels, causing high levels of insulin to be secreted, thus putting a great deal of stress on receptors, eventually leading to their malfunction. Instead, fill your diet with natural sugars by opting to eating more fresh fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, and berries.
4) WATCH your FAT CONSUMPTION: we certainly need healthy fats in our diet, however the “SAD” is much too high in processed fats from things like fast foods, chips, meats, and baked goods. To help reduce your fat intake; try baking your vegetables with a little bit of water instead of oil, fill up on plant fiber so your body doesn’t begin to crave fatty foods, and use flax oil in your salad dressings or as a drizzle over your vegetables for added flavour and the healthy type of fat our bodies need. Remember that flax oil is a highly oxidative oil and should never be heated!
The take home message here, is that you absolutely CAN “eat to beat” Type II Diabetes and many other chronic conditions! By beginning to focus your diet on the diverse foods the earth naturally provides and staying away from things that come in boxes, cans, bags, or fast foods, you can be sure that you will be well on your way to nourishing your body for optimal health.
If this sounds like something you are ready to begin, join our 5 Week Eat 2 Beat challenge so you can learn how you can eat your way to wellness!
NOTE: It is important to note that if you have Type II Diabetes and want to change your diet and eventually go off your medication, you should always be sure to be under the supervision of your doctor or primary health care provider.
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Meghan De Jong is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) certified by the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN), Vancouver. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia.
Passionate about working with a wide range of health topics she wants nothing more than to ensure all peoples concerns are cared for and to support people in becoming advocates for their own health. Meghan believes that every single person, no matter who they are, should have access to nutritional advice.