“Diets high in plant foods are associated with a lower incidence of diabetes mellitus. In a large follow-up study of Californian Seventh-day Adventists, the death rate from diabetes mellitus was approximately half that for all whites in the USA. Moreover, within the same group, vegetarians had a substantially lower risk than non-vegetarians of having diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.” (Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 1990, p. 75)
Fat and Diabetes
“In observational epidemiological studies, a high saturated fat intake has been associated with a higher risk of impaired glucose tolerance. … Considered in aggregate these findings are deemed to indicate a probable causal link between saturated fatty acids and type 2 diabetes, and a possible causal association between total fat intake and type 2 diabetes.” (Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 2003, p. 74-75)
Translating these research findings into simple words we would say that a high amount of fat in the diet, especially saturates fats from animal sources, will block the insulin receptors at the cell wall (see figure above).
Exercise and Diabetes
“Longitudinal studies have clearly indicated that increased physical activity reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes regardless of the degree of adiposity.” (Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 2003, p. 74)
Again, in pictorial words we could say that physical activity increases the number of insulin receptors at the cell wall. The following charts show clearly that physical activity reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes and so does also the walking pace.
Weight Control and Diabetes
“In all societies, overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.” (Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 2003, p. 73)
Quite often, mild type 2 diabetes in overweight people may normalize by merely returning to regular weight. A comprehensive lifestyle improvement program that includes a wholesome vegetarian diet and daily exercise, like the NEWSTART® program (see below), will help to reduce weight without having to suffer.
Summary of recommendations for prevention and management of diabetes
The following recommendations are applicable for both types of diabetes, 1 and 2:
- Maintain body weight within normal limits.
- Moderate or more intensive physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) for one hour or more per day on most days per week
- Abundant complex carbohydrates (50-60% of total energy).
- Minimize simple sugars (< de 3% of total energy).
- Reduce saturated fats (< 10% of total energy). Even less in high risk individuals.
- Abundant fibers through regular consumption of wholegrain cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables (minimum of 20 g fiber/day).
- Limit the protein intake (12-20% of total energy).
(Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 1990, p. 171 and 172; Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 2003, p. 77)
Diabetes is a serious disease and must be treated to avoid complications. However, medications should not be changed without medical supervision. There are simple methods to measure the excretion of glucose in the urine that can be done at home. Many patients even control their blood sugar using simple equipment with battery, which can be taken in the handbag when traveling.
Lifestyle Improvement Programs
Of all the common chronic diseases, diabetes is the one that responds best to lifestyle changes. This is what should be done in all cases of diabetes. Even in severe cases needing insulin, lifestyle modifications will help to manage better the disease. Here is what the WHO says:
“It has been demonstrated that improved lifestyles can reduce the risk of progression to diabetes by a striking 58% over 4 years. Other population studies have shown that up to 80% of cases of coronary heart disease, and up to 90% of cases of type 2 diabetes, could potentially be avoided through changing lifestyle factors, and about one-third of cancers could be avoided by eating healthily, maintaining normal weight and exercising throughout life.” (Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 2003, p. 43-44)
The most effective way to achieve correct lifestyle changes for the prevention or treatment of chronic diseases is to participate as an inpatient in a NEWSTART® program. The program is basically the same for all chronic diseases – total vegetarian diet, walking for exercise, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, regular resting times, lectures on healthy living, cooking classes, physiotherapy, etc. The program is individually adapted for each patient and supervised by physicians and other medically trained personnel. According to the different institutions and needs of the patient the length of the program may vary from one to four weeks.
The NEWSTART® program is copyrighted in the USA by the Weimar Institute, P.O. Box 486, Weimar, CA 95736, U.S.A, phone +1 (530) 637-4111, www.weimar.org
In Europe the copyright lies in the hands of the Clinic La Lignière, La Lignière 5, 1196 Gland, Switzerland, phone +41 (22) 999-6464, www.la-ligniere.ch and the Euro-Africa Division, Schosshaldenstrasse 17, 3006 Bern, Switzerland, phone +41(31)3591515, www.euroafrica.org are best carried out in so called lifestyle centers available in many countries on the world. Information about reversing diabetes can be found at www.reversingdiabetes.org.