How I Reversed my Type 2 Diabetes and Why No Diet is One Size Fits All
I have spent the last 10 months studying the role nutrition plays in healing ill health. In March of 2016, I was diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome due to an abnormally high fasting blood sugar, which was in the diabetic range, high total cholesterol, tryiglycerides and LDLs with a borderline high blood pressure.
This came as complete shock to me. I was leading what I thought to be a very healthy lifestyle. My diet consisted of a 95% plant-based diet comprising of a variety of fruits and vegetables, beans, healthy grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, couscous and sprouted grains). The other 5% came from an occasion egg, fish, and chicken. I grew a lot of my own veggies, including potent sprouts and micro-greens. My weight was on the high-end of a normal BMI and I exercised daily while also practicing yoga and meditation to manage daily stressors.
I chose my doctor because he was a big proponent of a plant-based diet and when we met after my very concerning lab results, he said, “You need to lower your fat intake. No avocados, nuts or oils.” Though I wondered how I was going to absorb my fat-soluble vitamins, I cut out fats. The next lipid panel (i.e., measure of fat and cholesterol) was worse and my blood sugars too. I was aghast when he said the only thing left to do was to put me on Metformin.
That’s when I hit the nutritional research. I discovered that many people were reversing their metabolic syndrome with a ketogenic diet. What??? High fat and low carbohydrates lowers the amount of circulating fat and cholesterol in the blood? I was flabbergasted but intrigued. I read research articles, listened to experts and personal accounts of diabetes and heart disease being reversed by cutting out sugar, and all other simple carbohydrates while ingesting a lot of good fats, moderate protein, and low glycemic fruits and vegetables. I decided to put my skepticism aside and give it a try. ANYTHING was better than starting on the slippery slope of medication management in my opinion.
After 3 days of cutting out all wheat products, beans, sugar, potatoes, rice and other grains, my fasting blood sugar was normal. Starting my day with coconut oil and cocoa butter laden decaf coffee was a bit strange, and adding organic cheese and heavy cream to my diet bordered on frightening, but my energy soared and weight melted off. I lost 23 pounds in 2 months!! My skin looked like it was “youthing” and I was sleeping like a baby. And though I knew by the way I was feeling that becoming a lean, mean fat burning machine was doing my body good, I was still amazed at the results of my next labs: H-A1C was 5.3 (anything under 6 is considered non-diabetic) which was down from 7.2. My Triglycerides dropped by over 50% to a very healthy 81 and my HDL rose from 54 to 68! The triglyceride/HDL ratio is the best predictor of coronary artery disease. Anything lower than 2 is considered very low risk and mine was a 1.3!!
Do you know what my doctor said? “You are an anomaly.” I will continue to tell my patients that a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet there is.
But before I started shouting from the rooftops that a Ketogenic diet was the answer to all that ails us, I embarked on more research. Were there people who might not be able to tolerate a high fat, low carb diet? What about those who were thriving on a Vegan diet? Were the Paleo or Mediterranean diets the answer for others?
What I ascertained from all my research, is that no one diet fits all: Far from it! For instance, if you have a gallbladder disorder, or no longer have a gallbladder, you may not tolerate a ketogenic diet. If you have sensitivity to oxcylates, you may experience increase joint pain or kidney stones eating leafy green vegetables, beets, okra, leeks and other veggies often consumed in a vegan diet. If you are histamine sensitive, fermented foods would not be your best option.
However, I did find a common denominator with all the diets that are touting health benefits. They are all based on real food (things that don’t come from a box and laden with chemicals).
On the other hand, the one diet all the experts say to avoid is the high fat/high processed carbohydrate diet – think donuts and Big Macs. This is known as the Standard American Diet (SAD). Processed foods contain a lot of chemicals and toxic fats that are at the root of most health issues including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders.
The moral of the story being, know thy body. Listen to what your body is asking for and disagreeing with and adjust accordingly. Feel how it is responding and adjust some more if needed. You may choose to seek out the counsel of a bioindividual nutritionist or a functional medicine doctor to assist you in discovering the right food choices for you based on more in depth testing than what is normally provided by traditional medical doctors.
Here’s to food being thy medicine and bon appetite!