Diabetes is rapidly becoming an extremely costly worldwide epidemic - one mostly related to the poor Western diet (which is unfortunately increasingly being adopted in developing nations as well). Scientists and doctors have been writing about this devastating condition for 3000 years but one of the earliest connections between diet and diabetes was made by a physician in Paris in 1870 when Paris was under siege by Germany during the Franco-Prussian war. French physician Apollonaire Bouchardat noticed that glucose disappeared from the urine of some of his patients due to the food rationing imposed on Parisians during that time. He then started advising his patients to “Mangez le moins possible” - meaning eat as little as possible.
We know that the higher people’s blood sugar levels are, the more heart attacks and strokes they tend to have and the shorter their lives are. In order to see if these outcomes could be prevented, a study was designed which placed people into two groups - one in which standard medications were given to lower blood sugars, and the other in which sugars were aggressively lowered into the normal range with multiple drugs. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and shocked the medical community. The group taking multiple drugs and getting lower blood sugars had increased death rates and the study was stopped early.
This illustrates that high blood sugar is just a symptom of diabetes, and the real problem is that it is a disease of insulin resistance. By lowering blood sugars we were not treating the actual problem and the combination of drugs used, seemed to be more dangerous than the blood sugars they were designed to treat.
Gastric bypass surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach by 90 percent or more is a very successful treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Long term remission rates have been reported as being as high as 83 percent. Some felt that the surgery was somehow altering digestive enzymes and thus improving diabetes. However this interpretation did not take into account the fact that patients are placed on a severely limited diet for up to two weeks following the surgery.
Researchers therefore designed a study to see if it was the surgery or the extreme calorie restriction that worked. People placed on the 600 calorie a day diet without surgery had better results than the surgery group and vastly improved blood sugar control. So surgery or starvation both work with some people feeling that surgery is the easier option, forgetting the major risks involved such as bleeding, leakage, infections and even death.
There is a better way than starving or submitting to the scalpel! It is possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes by changing the quality of the food you eat. There are excellent studies that have shown that by changing to a plant based diet, many people have been able to get off their insulin, even if they did not lose weight at all. This wonderful result was also attained very quickly - not over months or years but after eating a plant based diet for an average of only 16 days. Some of these happy patients had been using insulin for 20 years and were able to come off it completely.