Can You Reverse Diabetes With a Plant-Based Diet?

Over 37 million Americans are living with diabetes — 90-95% of which have type 2 diabetes. And despite billions of dollars spent each year to find a cure for it, little has changed in the way the medical community treats diabetes. For over 100 years, doctors have used insulin to treat the symptoms of diabetes, rarely addressing its root cause.

Conventional Diabetes Treatment

Traditionally, medical professionals have managed diabetes with insulin — which works by limiting the production of glucose by the liver and, as a result, lowering blood glucose levels.

As we mentioned above, doctors have relied solely on prescription insulin to treat diabetes for the past 100 years. And with over 218 billion dollars spent each year in the name of diabetes research, the cost of treatment continues to soar, and a cure has yet to be found.

Fortunately, with a more holistic approach to diabetes care, including diet and lifestyle changes, individuals living with diabetes can finally find relief and no longer rely on insulin to manage their type 2 diabetes.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is caused by obesity, excess body fat, which results in fatty liver and fat accumulation in the pancreas, fat storage in the skeletal muscles of the body. Contrary to popular belief, type 2 diabetes is not a blood sugar issue. High blood sugar is just a symptom of the liver and pancreas not working well. It is, however, an issue with internal fat accumulation in the liver and pancreas.

How Does Type 2 Diabetes Happen?

First there is a calorie surplus. Too much energy into the “hopper” that the body cannot use or burn up as body heat. Some energy gets stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, but not more than one to three days’ worth. The most efficient energy storage is fat at 9 calories (kcals, known as food calories) per gram.

So, when you continuously consume excess energy the liver converts the sugars into fat and begins to store excess fat in the liver. This excess fat causes the liver to become resistant to the signaling action of insulin from the pancreas. This causes a small increase in blood glucose levels, which prompts the pancreas to increase its production of insulin.

As the liver gets full of fat it then increases its output of fat to the rest of the body for storage. Subcutaneous fat storage (under the skin) is used first. Exactly where on your trunk it goes (thighs, buttocks, chest, belly, etc.) is somewhat genetically determined. Fat also accumulates around the organs, which we call central adiposity.

But when the fat depots are full (also genetically determined) then fat also starts accumulating inside other central organs including the pancreas.

Insulin resistance also occurs in the muscles when they have accumulated a lot of fat. The muscles signal that their storehouses are full and they refuse to store more energy as fat.

When the pancreas finally gets too much fat in it and especially inside the insulin-producing beta cells it stops producing enough insulin to keep up with the glucose load from eating. The beta cells actually go into survival mode and dedifferentiate and stop producing insulin. This is the point of pancreatic exhaustion. The pancreas has a huge excess capacity and puts out large amounts of insulin, usually for many years. Insulin’s main role is to tell the liver to stop producing glucose. When the pancreas produces insulin it is sent directly to the liver for very tight control of blood glucose levels. Normally when you eat your pancreas produces insulin which tells the liver to stop producing glucose because there is a load coming in from eating.

So, when the pancreas stops producing insulin, due to exhaustion, you get very high blood sugars after eating and very high fasting blood glucose levels because the fatty liver is also compromised.

And so a person is diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes.

How to Reverse Diabetes with a Vegan Diet

If excess body fat, especially in the liver and pancreas are at the root of type 2 diabetes, then a diet that helps you naturally lose weight in a healthy manner could be the secret to reversing it.

So take the holistic approach. Remove the ultra-processed foods and animal-based fats from your diet, and adopt a primarily raw, plant-based diet instead.

Dietary choices are key drivers in insulin resistance, especially as individuals get older or live a more sedentary lifestyle. Studies have shown that plant-based diets can repair and restore insulin sensitivity. Controlled studies have shown that muscles tend to accumulate less fat when fed plant protein compared to when fed animal protein. So, there are key benefits to using a plant-based diet to reversing diabetes, benefits that you won’t get when following a ketogenic diet or a paleo style diet. A plant-based diet is superior for well-controlled metabolic health and maintaining a healthy body weight.

As your body is nourished with primarily raw, whole, and plant-based foods, that are low in starch, but rich in nutrients, you’ll notice that your body fat begins to diminish. This is the key to reversing diabetes. First, fasting blood glucose levels will return to normal. This is a sign that your liver has begun to function again in a healthy manner,. This can happen even before you lose substantial body weight when following a healthy plant-based diet.

The glucose response after a meal will remain abnormal until the pancreas becomes healthy without excess fat. This will take more time and perseverance to lose the necessary fat, but the pancreas can function normally again if the beta cells have not become too compromised over a long period of time. How much fat needs to be lost? Often it is more than 30 pounds of body weight or 10% of your body weight for smaller people.

To reverse and cure diabetes, we need to address the root cause, not just treat the symptoms. A vegan diet, especially one rich in raw, plant-based foods, can help you naturally lose weight and ultimately reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes. Opt for the holistic approach to diabetes care to nurture your body back to health.

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