Oliver's Blog

Thursday 21st March 2019

How To Prevent, Or Heal, Type 2 Diabetes With Diet

A hundred years ago type 2 diabetes was a rare illness, yet in the last 20 years it has increased from 1.8 million people diagnosed in the UK to 3.7 million today. That’s an increase of over 200% with estimates that there will be 5 million with the condition by 2025.

Type 1 And Type 1 Diabetes

It’s worth noting at this point the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 typically develops in the first years of life, when the pancreas organ completely stops producing any of the hormone insulin. This hormone helps move glucose and other nutrients from the blood into all the body’s cells, so without it the body cannot function. Then there’s Type 2 diabetes, which for many years typically developed in adults, where the pancreas produces less insulin and the insulin it produces has less effect in moving glucose into cells. It is particularly this type that is rapidly increasing. Disturbingly, from around 2000, this form has started becoming common in children too.

Effects And Causes Of Type 2 Diabetes

Considering how serious a disease this is, being the most common cause of blindness, shortening people’s lives, and frequently leading to heart and kidney disease and foot amputation, this is definitely an illness we want to prevent ourselves getting.

What causes diabetes? Thirty years ago when I started giving macrobiotic health consultations, I learnt that it is primarily an unhealthy processed and sugar-rich diet combined with a lack of exercise. In the last few years western medicine has come to the same conclusion, but there is not a big enough push to improve the nation’s heathy though diet and to reduce overweight and obesity which greatly increases the risk of diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Is Easy To Prevent

So, the cause is how we live – in my mind this is good news, because this is something that each one of us can take control of, we can all make healthy choices in our diet and lifestyle. In fact, I have to say that I think type 2 diabetes is one of the easiest diseases to prevent. Consider that 100 years ago this was a rare or unknown illness in the world. Also, in my experience of meeting literally thousands of people following a balanced plant-based macrobiotic diet, I have never met one who has developed type 2 diabetes.

So how do we do prevent this illness? Number one is to eat whole foods (isn’t this the crazy hippie trend from the 1970’s?) like brown rice, quinoa, brown pasta, spaghetti and wholemeal bread, along with a wide variety of green and root vegetables (scrubbed not peeled) lentils and beans, seeds and fruits.

How To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes With Diet - Brown Rice

Why Is This So Important?

It’s important because these foods contain complex carbohydrates like starch, which break down slowly in the gut – they are ‘slow release’ foods, which is exactly what the body likes. They also come with a good amount of roughage which slows down the adsorption of glucose from the gut into the blood and body.

Contrast this with processed bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, sugary drinks and desserts, where the carbohydrates have more simple ‘fast release’ sugars, that get into the blood stream quickly. This causes a spike in blood sugar, and then the poor pancreas has to produce lots of insulin to remove the sugar from the blood, and over time it becomes exhausted and unable to keep up.

Regular daily exercise is also very helpful as this takes the glucose out of the blood and into the muscles – this might be a sport but just as good is walking or cycling to the shops or to work, digging the garden and vacuuming the home!

And what if you have found that you already have high blood sugar levels or have been recently diagnosed with diabetes? I have seen a lot of clients at this stage, and have seen those that are willing to change to a balanced wholefoods diet and a healthier lifestyle nearly always get their blood sugar levels down to safe levels. If this is you, this is the time to take steps to improve your health, when you can almost certainly reverse the condition and have a long healthy life.

If you have had diabetes long-term, it is also beneficial to make all the above healthy changes to help control your blood sugar levels, and give you the extra control to enjoy better health and avoid the nasty complications. This approach frequently leads to being able to reduce insulin doses.

Taking Steps That Will Help

If you would like to know more on how you can prevent or reverse the high blood-sugar levels that can lead to serious health problems, you can contact me for a one-to-one health consultation or have a look at our short courses.