REVERSING DIABETES IN TWO SIMPLE STEPS
Some Background First.
It was in March of 2006, way before I ever started the raw vegan diet that I finished the last of a grueling 6 month chemotherapy protocol for my bout with lymphoma. I had noticed that when my monthly blood test was done prior to my body scans, the tech asked me if I was diabetic. I said not that I am aware. So after the chemo I scheduled an appointment with a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) to see what was up. After more blood test he confirmed that I had type 2 diabetes. Ughh. I just got through one serious disease and now had another.
I was prescribed an oral medication and told that to “control” diabetes (there was no cure) was a three pronged approach. Daily medication, diet, and exercise. Since I only liked the last one, and only when I was in the mood, I continued eating as I had been and taking the medicine, with occasional exercise here and there. As you might have guessed, things did not improve. After about a year, I went to see the doctor again. He said my diabetes had progressed. He upped the strength of my daily medication, told me to go see the hospital’s nutritionist, and reminded me to eat well and exercise. The nutritionist only made matters confusing in my opinion. There were carbohydrate and protein levels assigned to each type of food, and the totals had to come in at a certain amount or each for 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. But worse, there was no emphasis on true nutrition. The main thing to be counted were carbohydrates. But it did not matter if they came from a banana or a can of soda. In theory, and often in reality, I could meet the numbers by eating processed junk food. This did not make sense.
I was kind of in a holding pattern for a while. Day to day things kept my mind off diabetes and I kind of loosely followed the rules laid out by the nutritionist. I occasionally kept a food journal and tallied my carbs, etc. All the while I was taking the medicine everyday and testing my fasting blood glucose each morning. It was always pretty much the same, between 130 and 140. After a while it seemed pointless to even test. Who wants to prick your finger everyday and pay good money in testing strips for the privilege?
It was not until surfing the net one day that I stumbled across Dr. Joel Fuhrman on YouTube discussing that diabetes could be reversed by proper nutrition. I wondered why the nutritionist didn’t tell me this. She just wanted me to prevent the disease from getting worse, not reverses it, I guess. I ordered Dr. Fuhrman’s book “Eating for Health”. He was very much into eating more nutrient dense foods and superfoods. Something inside me told me this was the correct way to eat. As I was watching some more of his videos, I ran across some videos regarding the raw food challenge. People were eating only raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and telling of tremendous health and energy benefits. I had to learn more. In the meantime I started making green smoothies. Because greens (spinach, lettuce, kale etc.) are kind of a staple in the raw food diet, and because I was not particularly a salad person, this was a way for me to get enough greens!
Going back to the idea of the three pronged approached, I got it in my head that I did not want to do prong number one, daily medication for the rest of my life. That meant focusing more intensely on prongs two and three, which from now on I’ll call Steps 1 and 2. They are simple, not easy. But they are also not as hard as you might think, once you get the right frame of mind and develop good habits.
Eating right. I decided to give the raw food diet a shot! This meant giving up meat, dairy, eggs, honey, animal products as well as cooked food. Quite a tall order. It still is, so I don’t claim to be 100% raw vegan. I allow myself a cheat here and there, but by striving to eat raw vegan, my diet has improved tremendously! I now mostly drink water, and a lot more of it. I drink at least ½ gallon a day and more in the summer. I start each day with a green smoothie and limit my fruit intake to one piece per day, which is often a banana or apple in my morning smoothie.
Exercise. I exercise everyday. And I mean every day of the week. It is not drudgery because I do not do the same routines every day. Some days it is walking while getting errands done. This ends up being between 4 and 8 miles per day. It takes a while, so if you want you can save this for the weekends. Some days I jog, to really get my heart rate up. Minimally I jog for 2 miles and sometimes 2 and half or 3. It gets really boring after that and unless you are preparing for a race, I think the benefits diminish. Some days I do exercises such as crunches, curls, pushups, military press etc. I keep a floor mat and dumbbells handy. And on some days I work on my vertical leap. I follow jumping exercises from the ”The Jump Manual” and I am getting close to my goal of being able to jump up and touch the rim of a basketball hoop. I used to be able to do this in my early twenties, and figure if I can do it now, some 20 years later, it will be validation that exercise and eating raw food can keep you young and athletic.
After about 2 weeks of the raw food diet I noticed my fasting blood sugar was coming down. I took it upon myself to stop taking my medication. ½ doses at first, then after a few more weeks stopped altogether. This was without my doctor’s consent, which I do not recommend, but it is what I did. A month after I was completely off my diabetes medicine, I averaged my fasting blood glucose. It was 113. This is at the low end of “pre-diabetes” and I was very happy. Prior to my new lifestyle I was averaging about 135, while taking the medicine!
Several months later, I am still off the medicine and still averaging about 113. So I still have a tendency towards high blood glucose, but am not officially in the diabetic range (126 and above). In addition, I have lost 30 lbs and am feeling great. I did go to the doctor recently. He was very happy for me, and told me that if I keep up my current regimen there is no need for me to be on medicine. Yes, official from the doctor.
I am now looking forward to trying to lower my fasting blood glucose even more, by exercising harder, as well as increasing my green and superfood intake!
James Reno (editor)