The goal of this blog has always been to help you lose weight, gain muscle, and do so in a way that prevents some of the biggest killers or cripplers of Americans – heart disease and diabetes.
In this article we explore the question, “can diet reverse or improve existing prediabetes, Type I diabetes, and/or Type II diabetes?”.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be medical device. It’s a review of case studies and scientific articles on the topic for informational purposes only. Confirm everything with your doctor before doing anything.
What you’ll learn in this article:
- What causes insulin resistance?
- What causes the insulin gates to get clogged?
- Type I versus Type II versus pre-diabetes?
- Case studies of people who used diet to get off or reduce medications for prediabetes, Type I diabetes, and Type II diabetes
- So what did these people change in their diets to get the results they got?
- Do you have to reduce carbs to reverse diabetes?
- Do you have to reduce fat?
- Other things to avoid?
- What about fasting?
What causes insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is a complex topic but it is the key driver the moves your progression from pre-diabetes to Type II diabetes.
It starts with the movement of sugar throughout the body. Sometime after you eat, your food is broken down into simple sugars and passes into the blood stream.
Insulin controls how much sugar goes into your cells for energy and how much stays in the blood to be carried elsewhere.
There’s a series of biochemical reactions that take place on the surface of your cell. These reactions interact with insulin in your blood to either open the cells to let in blood sugar or to keep the gates shut.
These gates can get clogged and malfunction preventing blood sugar from coming into your cells and causing your blood sugar levels to rise. This clogging of the gates is insulin resistance.
High blood sugar levels can damage your smaller blood vessels and nerves (nueropathy). Your body doesn’t want this so it tells your pancreas to go into overdrive and produce tons of insulin in the hopes that sugar will come out of your blood and into your cells.
Over time, an overworked pancreas starts to give up and the islet cells that produce the insulin start to die. As this progresses you move from pre-diabetes to Type II diabetes.
To see an overview of this in action, watch this video:
What causes the insulin gates to get clogged?
As you can see in the video above, excess fat inside the cells is broken down into various by products that clog the insulin gates. That excess fat can come from the diet or just regular body fat.
Type I versus Type II versus pre-diabetes?
All three forms of diabetes relate to pancrease damage. With Type I, it’s a form of damage that occurs in childhood and is not necessarily influenced or caused by diet.
With pre-diabetes and Type II diabetes, your weight and your diet play major factors in this progression. These conditions usually happen later in life though there is more and more evidence showing that childhood obesity, pre-diabetes, and pancreas damage is starting even in childhood.
With all three types there’s hope that simple dietary changes can lead to improvements in the condition. Next we focus on a few case studies of people who have reversed Type I, Type II, or pre-diabetes through diet.
Case studies of people who used diet to improve or reverse prediabetes, Type I, and Type II
Let’s start with Type I, the form of diabetes most wouldn’t expect could be helped by diet since it’s more genetic than obesity-related.
Reducing Type I Diabetes through Diet Case Studies:
- My man MangoMan was a Type I diabetic that reduced his insulin use 45% solely through diet. You can read his journey here.
- Affaf got his Type I diagnosis at age 16. Unable to master the low-carb diet she found herself breaking down and bingeing over and over. Two years later she tried a plant-based diet. She reduced her A1c levels by 6% and increased her insulin-sensitivity over 6 times. Read more about it here.
- Chris struggled with Type 1 diabetes for 57 years. After watching a few videos on insulin resistance and diet he decided to try a low-fat, whole foods diet. After3 months on the diet he was able to get off his rheumatoid arthritis medication, his joint pain went away and he was able to start exercising again, his doctor was able to take him off 8 other medications, he lost 32 pounds, and reduced his insulin use by 39%.You can see more of Chris’ story, including his list of medications, here.
Reversing Type II Diabetes through Diet Case Studies:
- After 11 years of suffering with Type II diabetes, Cynthia Bronte lost 50 pounds (215 down to 165), decreased her fasting blood sugar levels from 172 mg/dL to 131 mg/dL, reduced Metformin dosage from 1000 mg/day to 500 mg/day, and got off insulin. Read Cynthia’s story now.
- Marc Ramirez was able to get off all medications in 2 months and lost over 47 pounds with a few changes in diet. Read more about it at his blog, Chick Pea and Bean.
- Patricia dropped her A1c levels from 7.1% to 6.4% in 4 months then down to 5.6% in 8 months, she lost 50 lbs, and dropped her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) 40%. Read her story (and see her lab work) here.
For even more case studies and results on diet and diabetes see the Mastering Diabetes archives.
So what did these people change in their diets to get the results they got?
They ate more plants and they ate less fat.
They ate beans, seeds, nuts, whole grain rice and pasta, and kept fat to a minimum.
Check out this video on the benefits of beans for diabetes.
Caloric restriction (aka dieting) versus just eating more beans was put to the test in this study. Watch it now to see who won (hint – it wasn’t the dieters!):
Do I have to reduce carbs to reverse diabetes?
Nope. We’ve known since 1937 that higher fat diets lead to more insulin resistance issues than high sugar diets. In this study, one group was given a normal diet, one given a diet high in fats, one ate no food, and one was given tons of sugar and candy. Afterwards they were both given a dextrose tolerance test and the high fat group and blood sugar spikes through the roof. You can see their representative blood sugar spikes below as well as a link to the study here.
Do I have to reduce fat?
Yes. See the study above.
Other things to avoid?
Avoid eggs or reduce them. Watch this video to see the issue with Eggs and diabetes
Fish might not be helping. See this for more…
Saturated fat might help you lose weight on Atkins but it’s not your friend if you already have diabetes or heart disease. Learn more here.
What about fasting?
While there’s some evidence out there to support intermittent fasting as a means of helping with diabetes, it can also be a tough pill to swallow compared to eating anything you can on a whole-foods diet. We’ll cover this more in depth in a future article.
Where can I find recipes, diet plans, and shopping lists to help me organize all this?
You probably have tons of cookbooks for diabetics so we’ll leave that one alone for now.
In the future, we’ll help you formulate a simple diet plan and some shopping lists to develop some core meals to conquer your diabetes as well as help you lose weight, build muscle, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
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