by Angie Smith

With the rise in Type II diabetes over the last couple of decades, many people have taken notice of the dangers that are associated with its development as well as some of the potential causes. But many people have yet to understand what leads a body to have difficulties absorbing sugar and what options they have for regaining their health.

The growing concern is in the connection between the rising obesity epidemic and its link to Type II diabetes. About 80 percent of Type II diabetics are obese. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has said that the new approach to treating diabetes focuses on fat consumption instead of the old method, which made the elimination of refined sugars and starchy foods the main goal. They explain this by saying that the more fat there is in a diet the harder time insulin has getting sugar into the cells. As of yet, there is no known cause for this, but it has been proven that by reducing fat intake as well as excess body fat, a person can help their body’s insulin maintain a proper sugar balance.

Modern diabetic treatment programs, according to the Committee, drastically reduce meats, high-fat dairy products, and oils, while at the same time increase grains, legumes, and vegetables. One study they illustrated found that 21 of 23 patients who were taking oral medication for diabetes, and 13 of 17 patients on insulin were able to get off their medications after 26 days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program.

The benefit to a vegetarian diet for those who have or are at risk of diabetes, is that most vegetarian diets are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Saturated fat is most commonly found in meat, eggs and dairy products and it has been linked to high cholesterol levels as well as weight gain. Unsaturated fat, which is found in olive and canola oil as well as nuts and seeds, is much healthier for the body and can help to keep weight and cholesterol levels down.

It is estimated that 17 million people have diabetes and around 95 percent of those cases are Type II, which most commonly affects adults over the age of 40. According to Jay B. Lavine, M.D., a Diplomat of both the American Board of Ophthalmology and the National Board of Medical Examiners, Type II diabetes is associated with obesity, inactivity, family history of diabetes and ethnicity.

Lavine said that the difference between Type I and Type II diabetes, is that Type I generally requires insulin treatment and it was formerly known as juvenile diabetes. Type I appears to be an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. In Type II diabetes, however, the body still produces insulin, but the body is resistant to its effects and so the sugar is unable to easily absorb into the cells where it is needed, and backs up in the bloodstream. Lavine said that both types of diabetes though, develop the same complications.

The good news for Type II diabetics, Lavine said, is if they change their lifestyle by adopting healthier eating habits, described as a high fiber, plant-based diet, and lose their excess weight, the diabetes can often be reversed and the need for medication eliminated.

Footnotes: 

Sources:

  1. Lavine, Jay B. “Diabetes and Diet.” October 2003. http://www.vegparadise.com/otherbirds312.html
  2. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. ”Diet and Diabetes.” October 2003. https://www.pcrm.org/health-topics/diabetes