What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease where your body does not make enough insulin, or the insulin your body makes is not functioning as it should.
Insulin is made in the pancreas. Insulin is the key that opens the door that allows the entry of sugars, proteins and fats into your hungry cells. When your insulin is absent or not working properly (insulin resistance), glucose is unable to pass from your blood stream into your cells for use as energy. Glucose builds up in your bloodstream and eventually passes through your kidneys into your urine also carrying water with it. This results in more frequent urination and increased thirst, and can cause weight loss due to the inability of glucose and other nutrients to get into cells, as your cells are starving!
This can also cause fatigue due to the inability of your cells to use glucose to produce adequate energy. If this condition is untreated, the result is damage to your heart and blood vessels, your eyes, kidneys and extremities.
Diabetics are more likely to develop cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Diabetes is also a cause of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death for diabetics. Diabetics also get kidney disease. Diabetes is leading cause of kidney failure.
Diabetic neuropathy, loss of circulation in the extremities, is the leading cause of amputation. There are more lower limb amputations performed on diabetics than war vets. Diabetics also have a 250 times higher likelihood of dying of a stroke.
The symptoms are increased urine output, excess thirst, excess weight loss and tiredness. The clinical definition is fasting blood sugar above 126
mg/dl. Another diagnostic is to have Hgb A1C levels at 6.5% or above. This measures the saturation with glucose of your hemoglobin (oxygen carrier) molecules in the blood. They become distorted with sugar molecules, making them less able to function as they should, further damaging your body with oxygen starvation.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in U.S. The lifespan of a diabetic is 2/3 that of a non-diabetic.
What Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistance, happens when there is too much fat in the cells. This disease is the natural way your body prevents morbid obesity. Gaining 30 to 50 pounds is a survival advantage for long winters, but more than that is counterproductive, as you cannot escape predators or fit into a cave entrance if you get fatter than that, so your body disables the insulin to prevent more fat from entering the cells.
However, when this happens your insulin also cannot allow sugars into the cell which are your cell’s energy source. Often the pancreas starts making more insulin which delays the actual diabetes for a while, and when diagnosed the patient may be producing twice as much insulin as a healthy person. Your body has developed insulin resistance. That is why tiredness and weight loss are symptoms. The thirst and excess urination you may experience comes from your body trying to flush out excess sugars.
Also, the excess proteins (amino acids) that can no longer enter your cells create an acidity in your blood that your body will need to excrete, firstly by alkalizing the blood by dissolving your bone tissue, and then filtering the excess protein out through your kidneys.
The excess fats (fatty acids) circulating in your blood will harm your arteries, and also make your blood sludgy, as the fat causes your red blood cells to stick together. This makes it harder for your heart to push your blood through your small capillaries, which further harms your circulatory system.
The causes of Type-2 Diabetes are obesity and inflammation caused by a high fat, animal food diet. Also, fat cells leak fat and hormones into the blood causing inflammation. Medications that can contribute to diabetes are corticosteroids, thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, antipsychotic drugs, and statin drugs. Also heme iron which is the iron found in animal foods itself is a risk factor, as heme iron increase insulin resistance. So your risk of getting diabetes increases as your consumption of meat as well as fat increases. You can feed a healthy person a very high fat diet, and in two to three days they can be diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic.
Similarly, when type 2 diabetics cut the fat and animal foods from their diet, their requirement for medications drops dramatically, as their insulin will become responsive again. They will also lose weight, and just losing weight, by any means, even chemotherapy or gastric bypass operation will make your insulin work again. CAUTION: if you are a diabetic you MUST work with your doctor when you change your diet, as you could become hypoglycemic and faint and fall or go into a coma.
Less than ten percent of diabetics are Type 1. Diabetes Type 1 is an autoimmune reaction to dairy proteins. When your gut is leaky, which is caused by consuming animal foods and oils, undigested or partially digested dairy proteins ‘leak’ into the blood stream through the normally tight junctions in your gut. Your body recognizes these foreign proteins as invaders, and attacks them, making antibodies to them. When this happens repeatedly, the still circulating antibodies find and destroy the insulin making cells in the pancreas, as these cells ‘look like’ the dairy proteins. This is called ‘molecular mimicry’. It takes between three and seven years until the pancreas can no longer make insulin and if this happens to you, you will require supplemental insulin for the rest of your life.
In a 1992 study, blood samples were taken from 142 diabetic children and controls who did not have diabetes. 100% of the diabetic children had elevated levels of antibodies to cow’s milk proteins, where as none of the controls had elevated antibody levels, and other studies have confirmed these results. (1) In a U.S. study, genetically susceptible children who consume cow’s milk have a 11.3 times greater risk of developing juvenile diabetes. This represents a risk greater than the risk that a smoker will develop lung cancer.
When Type 1 diabetics change their diets to a low fat whole food plant based diet, the insulin they take works better and they can often decrease the amount they require by one third or one half, and substantially reduce their risk of the health consequences of having type 1 diabetes.
CAUTION: if you are a diabetic you MUST work with your doctor when you change your diet, as you could become hypoglycemic and faint and fall or go into a coma.
There is a type one and a half diabetes where the patient has some insulin, but not enough, and diet alone will not work, they may get severely thin and require some insulin.
How do you get diabetes?
“All diseases are biological processes gone awry” Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Our bodies work perfectly to make the right dietary choices for life, in a world that no longer exists. Our bodies evolved to eat everything we could. We didn’t have to worry about what food it was. There were no fast food restaurants, and the nuts that only appeared in autumn had to be cracked open. They did not come in bags in the local market, already shelled. Getting fat was hard! That is why your body will move dietary fat easily to your fat cells. ‘The fat you eat is the fat your wear’. Your body will not preferentially make energy from fat. Generally, our diet was fruit, roots, leaves, nuts, and grasses. It was mostly a vegan world. Being attracted to fat was good! Fat was what got you through the next period of starvation which happened OFTEN.
If you could find enough food, you got enough protein. (If a diet is calorically sufficient, there is enough protein.) You were more likely to be chased by an animal than catch one to eat it, and there was no preserving the meat. The only dairy you got was breast milk. There was no refined oil, there were no processed foods, or refined sugars. There also were no artificial sweeteners which reduce insulin sensitivity.
Today these drives are alive and well. No wonder we are in trouble of being overweight and obese and are prey to all the damage and disease that comes with it. Mix yesterday’s DNA with today’s foods and food supply, and you get today’s diabetes epidemic.
We did not evolve to handle the excess consumption of fat and protein, because there was no need. As one would expect and want, back then, we are superb at readily packing this excess fat away, with minimal mechanisms for bringing levels back down. With protein, we can break it back down into amino acids and excrete it through the kidneys, but only to a very limited degree before we start stressing the mechanisms charged with doing that. Also, excess protein can crystallize out of the blood all over the place, including the joints, because we have limited capacity to excrete it. When we do, we end up peeing our bones into the toilet, leading to osteoporosis.
Remember, insulin is responsible for not just getting sugar out of the blood and into the cells, but also fat and protein.
Dr. John McDougall – ‘Diabetes isn’t a disease. It is the body responding perfectly to the situation it is dealt with, namely, too much fat in the cells. It shuts down the border, so to speak.’
What Are the Health Consequences of Having Diabetes?
Diabetes damages all your tissues, your eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. The long-term effect of high plasma glucose levels to blood vessels damages them over time. The blood supply to your tissues is reduced and can cause lower extremity gangrene, leading to amputation. There is damage to all organs and systems.
Atherosclerosis accelerates in larger vessels and the result is cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke. Your capillaries become thickened and leaky, leading to microvascular complications like retinopathy and nephropathy (kidney failure is the second most common cause of death for diabetics). Heart attack and
stroke are leading causes of death for diabetics. Your bones become weak and you are more subject to hip fracture. Cognitive decline, brain atrophy, and dementia are also part of this disease process.
You will also have a lowered immune function, and increased susceptibility to infection and cancer.
Fatigue, sleep apnea, and urinary problems including incontinence are part of this cascade of disease, as well as sexual dysfunction in men and women, and digestive disorders including diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. There can be abnormal sweating (too much or too little), difficulty adjusting to nighttime vision, and exercise intolerance.
Hypoglycemia is a danger. This happens when your glucose levels drop to 50-70 mg/dL. Symptoms include extreme nervousness, trembling, and sweating. If your glucose levels drop to 20-50 mg/dL you can have seizures and loss of consciousness. The treatment is immediate administration of glucose orally, or in severe situations intravenously. Permanent damage to nervous system can result.
A serious and life-threatening co-morbidity for type-1 diabetics is diabetic keto-acidosis leading to coma and death. This requires immediate treatment with insulin.
How is diabetes medially treated and how well do the treatments work?
All drugs that are approved for diabetic treatment are based on whether or not the drugs lower blood sugar level. They do not have to improve your health or lengthen life. The goals are to control blood glucose levels, lower A1c, and delay complications of the disease like blindness, infections, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, etc. The drugs reduce symptoms like thirst and hunger but do not reverse diabetes. Diabetes continues to progress and more complications develop. Many drugs cause side effects that worsen the condition.
The medications make your insulin work better, so you gain weight and require more medications.
For example, studies show Avandia reduces A1c levels 1.5 percentage points (a marker for average blood glucose levels during the previous 3 months), reduces fasting glucose an average of 76mg/dl, and reduces insulin resistance by 25%. But an analysis of 40 studies with over 28,000 patients showed that patients taking Avandia had 66% more heart disease, 39% more strokes, and 20% more deaths from cardiovascular disease. So just improving your biomarkers does not guarantee better health or longer life. The more aggressively diabetes is treated, the more weight gain, the higher the cholesterol and blood pressure, the more heart disease, stroke and death.
Can you reverse diabetes or the harms it causes your body?
Any weight loss will cure type 2 diabetes, even cocaine addiction, cancer chemotherapy, gastric bypass surgery, or a poisonous low-carb diet. So the typical doctor will tell you to lose weight while also putting you on a medication which makes your insulin less resistant. This makes it easier for sugars and fats to enter your hungry cells, and the result is you gain weight, as the diet your doctor has given you is not a low fat plant based diet. And as you gain weight, and you will be given more medication, etc. If you decide to change your diet you MUST work with your physician as your needs for medication decline.
A high carbohydrate diet increases insulin sensitivity. Sugar makes insulin work better! Type one diabetics require more insulin on a high fat diet.
A low fat, starch-based diet also cures complications like retinopathy, peripheral neuropathy, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Diabetics should eat carbs! A high-carbohydrate diet works much more effective for lowering fasting glucose and A1C levels, and increasing insulin sensitivity than higher-protein diets. Protein requires insulin for metabolism and protein decreases insulin sensitivity. Protein-rich foods cause higher insulin responses than high-carbohydrate foods. Casein
(cow’s milk protein) decreases insulin sensitivity while soy protein increases insulin sensitivity.
For example, 25 type 1 and 25 type 2 insulin-dependent diabetics were placed on a whole-foods, plant-based diet, high in carbohydrate and fiber. After just 3 weeks, type 1 diabetics were able to lower their insulin requirements by 40%, and their cholesterol dropped by 30%. 24 out of 25 type 2 diabetics were able to completely discontinue their insulin medication (2)
Diabetic neuropathy also goes away after changing your diet.
Exercise can lower blood sugar, and helps you reduce medication, improve insulin utilization, and improve your cardiovascular health. Exercise also helps you lose weight.
Redefining criteria and over-diagnosing disease is called disease mongering. This is done by convening expert panels to determine the criteria for diagnosis of disease, and the members of these panels often have conflicts of interest (they work for or are shareholders in drug companies). This expansion of the definition of disease results in more and more healthy people being diagnosed as sick patients requiring treatment.
For example, the head of the panel that redefined diabetes was a paid consultant to 7 companies that make diabetes drugs, resulting in a 14% increase in the diagnosis of diabetes. Nine of the 11 people who redefined the criteria for hypertension had ties to drug companies that make drugs to treat it, and the result was a 35% increase in the diagnosis of hypertension. Eight of the 9 panel members who changed the criteria for cholesterol worked for companies that make drugs to treat it, resulting in an 86% increase in the diagnosis of hyperlipidemia. The criteria for diagnosis of osteoporosis was developed in partnership with the Osteoporosis Foundation and the advisory board for this group included 31 drug and device companies. There was an 85% increase in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. (Welch G, Schwartz L, Woloshin S. ‘Overdiagosed’ Beacon Press Boston p 24)
So the criteria for diabetes diagnosis used to be fasting blood glucose 140 mg/dl or higher, and in 1997 the criteria were lowered to 126 mg/dl which resulted in 1.6 million more people being diagnosed with diabetes, along with a more aggressive treatment for diabetics. That means more drugs to try to get their blood tests to the new, lower levels. However, this has not led to better health outcomes. The NIH compared outcomes of diabetics who were given aggressive treatment to lower blood sugar levels vs. those who were treated with standard diabetes therapy. The trial ended early because those in the aggressive treatment group were 25% more likely to die.
The mythical disease of pre-diabetes is defined as a condition in which blood glucose levels are high but not high enough for people to be diagnosed with diabetes. In 2006 the World Health Organization guidelines advised that the ADA had set the diagnostic threshold too low which results in people who are at low, or no risk being labeled as sick.
Studies show that only 5-10% of pre-diabetics progress to diabetes, and about 50% of them have their glucose levels return to normal over time. The International Diabetes Federation has advised against using the term “pre-diabetes” or diagnosing it. Treating pre-diabetes with drugs has been shown to have no effect on preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Summary: Expected Outcomes
Type 1 diabetics can usually reduce insulin requirements and reduce risk of co-morbidities such as coronary artery disease, neuropathy, blindness and early death. Many type 2 diabetics can place their diabetes in remission and eliminate their diabetes drugs. Most will remain in remission as long as they are compliant with a low-fat, plant-based diet and maintain weight loss.
Overweight and obesity are the most common factors that cause diabetes. So, reducing weight is the primary goal for prevention. Weight loss is linked to improvements in fasting glucose levels, blood pressure, and blood fats.
Studies show that eating fruit and vegetables is protective against diabetes. Fruit juice increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, so whole fruit is a better choice. Eating whole grains lowers your fasting glucose, LDL and total cholesterol, blood pressure, and your weight. People eating the most gluten were least likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
There is a three times increased risk of developing diabetes for people eating 5 or more eggs per week versus those eating less than one egg per week, same with more meat including fish, and more fat equals more diabetes. A high meat protein diet leads to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.
The diet in a nutshell...
No dairy! No oil!
treats, occasional, (like YOUR Birthday)
organic animal foods, or wild caught fish 2-3 times per week (optional)
Occasional, optional (for flavor) higher-fat plant foods, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, nut butters
cereals, breads, minimally processed foods
vegetables steamed, raw, boiled, microwaved, fresh, canned and frozen
legumes, whole grains, potatoes, squash, corn (starch)
64 ounces filtered water
The story in a nutshell...
Diabetes begins with too much sugar in the blood that can’t get into the cells (not from too much sugar in the blood, but too much fat in the cells). The sugar is trapped in the blood. What does this lead to? Think of what happens to water when you add a lot of sugar to it and heat it (it gets thick). When our blood is “thick” it becomes sluggish and can’t flow freely like it is supposed to. The heart has to do extra work to pump this thick blood around which raises blood pressure. Smaller blood vessels and their functionality are thus affected, often severely impacted to the point of becoming virtually non-functional.
Where are the body’s smallest blood vessels?
Your eyes are effected, and you get diabetic retinopathy, ultimately leading to blindness.
Your nerves are effected leading to neuropathy (loss of feeling or the opposite, extreme pain) especially in the lower extremities, leading to amputation of toes, feet, and even whole legs.
Your kidneys, which leads to kidney failure, dialysis and death, and your liver, leading to liver failure, build-up of toxic wastes and death.
Extreme thirst happens as the body attempts to dilute the “trapped” sugar-concentrated blood, which leads to frequent urination because your body is attempting to excrete the “trapped” sugars and protein.
Due to overworked organs (heart, blood vessels in general – think stroke, and the above-mentioned kidneys and liver) Osteoporosis because of the increased acid load due to excess proteins and fats in the blood leaches calcium from your bones to counteract this increased acid load.
Carbohydrate and starch from whole foods do not cause or worsen diabetes – animal foods and fat do!
(1) Karjalainen J, Martin J, Knip M et al, “A bovine albumin peptide as a possible trigger of insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus.” NEJM. 327(1992):302-307 Akerblom HK, Knip M. “Putative environmental factors and Type 1 diabetes.” Diabetes/Metabolism Revs 14 (1998):31-67
Naik RG and Palmer JP. “Preservation of beta-cell function in Type-1 Diabetes.” Diabetes Rev. 7 (1999):154-182
(2) Anderson JW. “Dietary fiber in nutrition management of diabetes.” In: G. Vahouny, V and D Kritchevsky (eds), Dietary Fiber: Basic and Clinical Aspects.” Pp.343-360. New York: Plenum Press,1986.