In this final article in our discussion of type 2 Diabetes, we will examine the effects of diet and nutrition as major contributors to this preventable disease.

In both the development and the treatment of type 2 Diabetes, nutrition is the key.  Poor nutrition is the great contributor to type 2 Diabetes, and proper nutrition begins to rectify type 2 Diabetes and bring the body back into balance, or homeostasis.  The body is awesome and phenomenal in that if a disharmony is not too far-gone, it will heal itself!

So let’s look at the nutritional aspect – what went wrong – and how to repair some of the damage in order to turn this type 2 Diabetes epidemic around.

Empty Harvest

Agri-BusinessIt all began with the Industrial Revolution.  The Industrial Revolution, which started toward the end of the 18th century in the United Kingdom, Western Europe and North America, is a period of history where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions, and continues to this day.  The Industrial Revolution is directly or indirectly responsible for some wonderful modern amenities, especially in the realm of engines, machinery, and computer/internet technologies.

Where agriculture and manufacturing are concerned, however, the quality of nutrition has changed dramatically in the following ways:

  • Farming has shifted from families and communities to huge agribusiness conglomerates
  • Agribusiness capitalism introduced the use of more pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to increase yield
  • Overuse of soil and non-rotation of crops created depletion of soil nutrients, therefore depletion of food nutrients
  • Deforestation, overuse of soil and use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides caused topsoil to be depleted – literally blown away with the wind
  • Capitalism in manufacturing food products stripped foods of nutrients in order to extend shelf life
  • Synthetic additives and chemicals were added to boxed and packaged foods to extend shelf life
  • Synthetic vitamins were added to boxed and packaged foods to prevent diseases caused by nutrient depletion

These and other repercussions of the Industrial Revolution are a direct result of what we’re experiencing today with the type 2 Diabetes epidemic.  In our society, we are programmed to be driven by convenience and taste.  We live in a society where good nutrition takes a back seat to our comfort and taste buds.  And our taste buds find lots of comfort in sweet and savory carbohydrates.

Foods That Contribute to Type 2 Diabetes

Let’s now take a closer look at what foods are contributing to this epidemic:

Carbohydrates – especially refined carbs is a main culprit.  Some examples include macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, pasteurized and bottled fruit juice, desserts, sodas, alcoholic beverages, bagels, etc.  The list is very long!  Suffice it to say that sugar, white flour, processed juices and sugary drinks and all other refined carbohydrates are great contributors.  Essentially, these foods turn into sugar and fat, throwing the digestive and endocrine systems out of balance to contribute to the development of type 2 Diabetes.

Fats – not so much naturally occurring fats for the most part, but those man-made, invented fats that the human digestion and metabolism simply don’t handle well.  These include margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils.  This last one, vegetable oils, requires a little further explanation.

Once oil is produced from a vegetable (for example, corn), that oil is very unstable and goes rancid very quickly.  In order to extend its shelf life, the oil is heated to very high temperatures and undergoes a chemical process in order to allow for an extended shelf life and “stability” of the oil.  But this and other unnatural oils will eventually be rejected by the body, and/or create a digestive/endocrine disharmony leading to type 2 Diabetes (or some other chronic illness).

Fake Sugars and Excitotoxins – these include high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, saccharin, splenda, MSG and texturized soy protein to name just a few of the more common ones.  These are essentially chemicals added to foods that replace real ingredients to extend shelf life and enhance flavor.  In addition, these create addictions to foods and can ultimately damage the body’s digestive, endocrine and nervous systems and seriously deplete the adrenals.

What To Eat

If you are diabetic, it all depends on what stage of the illness you are in.  Remember, everyone has a slightly different situation, so before embarking on changing your diet, please be sure to consult with myself or another qualified, licensed practitioner to find out what would be best for you.

That said, the following are some general recommendations:

Carbohydrates – Eat all the vegetables you want!  Focus on leafy greens, green vegetables and other colorful veggies that grow above ground.  Limit other starches like potatoes, bread and grains to no more than 2 small servings per day, or less than 60 grams per day.  Veggies should make up at least 50% of your daily food intake.  Fruit should be limited to one serving per day, eaten with some sort of fat in order to slow down the process of fruit sugar entering the bloodstream (see below).

Proteins – In moderation, but more than starchy carbs.  If you are vegetarian/vegan and diabetic (yes, there are many vegetarians/vegans who are diabetic, due to the high starchy carb intake), easy-to-digest nuts, seeds, fermented soy (tempeh, miso, natto), high quality organic cheese and small amounts of beans work well.  For omnivores, fish, eggs and fowl may be consumed.  Two to three servings of protein per day for all diabetics are generally advised.

Fats – These are also in moderation, but are vital, especially when consuming fewer starchy carbohydrates.  Fats are important for many reasons, the most important being that they are catalysts for balanced hormone production, and help reduce inflammation in all chronic illnesses.  Foods like avocado, butter/ghee, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and their butters, and high quality fish oils will provide the best fat that the body needs to help with the healing process.  No need to worry about gaining lots of weight when consuming these types of fats in moderation – the body will metabolize and burn these calories first when the diet is low in carbohydrates.

Beverages – Water is the beverage of choice, though unsweetened herbal or green tea may also be consumed.

Other Considerations

  1. Find out if you have any food sensitivities or food allergies.  If so, you will want to eliminate those foods from your diet (at least for a while).  If you’ve been eating foods to which you are sensitive, these may have created the problem and may be key in addressing the disease, or even reversing the damage.
  2. Nutritional supplementation and/or herbal medicine are often necessary to help heal the digestive/pancreatic/endocrine systems.
  3. Cleansing the liver and other organs and pathways of elimination are vital to achieving and maintaining balance in the body.  Similar to the oil change that we do for our cars, cleansing the liver can be revitalizing, giving the body more energy, enhancing sleep, and allowing the body to more efficiently absorb nutrients.

Turn The Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic Around For Future Generations

There are several things that we each can do to turn this epidemic around and eradicate type 2 Diabetes.  Our future generations will thank us for it!

  • Eat organic!  Whether fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs or other animal products, this gives a message to those who produce the food that a) we insist on healthy foods that are non-GMO, free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides; and that b) there is proper attention and respect being paid to the soil and to the earth.
  • Eat locally grown foods.  Shop at your local farmer’s market and support the smaller farms.
  • Start composting and growing some of your own food.  You can do this even if you live in an apartment!  Alternatively, join one of the many community co-ops that are sprouting up where you can rent a small plot of land that will allow you to grow food.
  • Stop eating boxed and refined foods.  Prepare your own meals as much as possible, preferably from scratch – even if it’s just once a week!
  • Eat to live, rather than live to eat.