Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make or use the insulin provided. Type 1 diabetes, originally known as juvenile diabetes, exists when the pancreas creates little to no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells to be used for energy. 30 million Americans have diabetes.
Ninety-five percent of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes This occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough to maintain normal glucose levels in the body. Doctors will tell you that there is no cure for either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Is there a potential cure or reversal of diabetes? Allow me a few paragraphs to describe a bit more about diabetes before I give you the rest of the story.
Type 1 diabetes is usually discovered after birth. Type 2 diabetes reveals itself after years of a mismanaged lifestyle. Symptoms are common – frequent urination, constantly thirsty, continuous hunger (even when you are eating), extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that don’t heal quickly, unexplained weight loss, tingling or numbness in your hands and feet.
Many diabetics don’t know they have the disease. Some live on the borderline of the body meeting the minimum needs for insulin production. If you have at least half of the symptoms listed in the previous paragraph, see your physician. Or, buy a blood glucose meter and test your own blood. Please confirm your confirmation (if you have diabetes) with your doctor.
When caught early it can be managed. If not caught in time and managed properly, you can be at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage.
Foods can make or break the severity of this disease. Eat whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or even a baked sweet potato. Restrict your diet from processed grains, such as white rice or white flour. Also avoid cereals, white bread, French fries, and foods with lots of sugar.
Vegetables are generally acceptable when you are diabetic. Choose fresh or frozen over canned foods. Avoid vegetables with lots of sodium. Stay away from vegetables cooked in a lot of butter, cheese, or sauce. Most fruits (fresh and frozen) are acceptable to eat. Fruits with lots of sugar (canned), jams, jellies, sweetened applesauce, and the like are not good for diabetics.
There are many choices when it comes to protein. The standard beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, eggs, etc. are acceptable. Nutritionists recommend removing the skin from chicken and turkey to reduce the fat. Trim the fat off your meats also. However, avoid meats that are fried, or packaged with a lot of salt (bacon).
Doctors want diabetics to limit dairy. Low-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream are the best choices. Whole milk, regular yogurt, cheese, etc. are not your friends.
The best fats and oils are vegetable fats (though they increase inflammation in your body due to the omega-6 fatty acids), nut oils, seeds, or avocadoes. Omega-3 fatty acid from fish is good. Absolutely avoid all trans fats (anything ‘partially hydrogenated’) and saturated fats from meats. Some doctors recommend staying away from coconut oil and others don’t. It is saturated fat, but it is a plant fat and not animal fat.
Managing diabetes is a full-time job. If not managed properly, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can become a major health problem, even life-threatening. DKA happens when the body breaks down fat too quickly. The liver processes that fat into ketones. With a rapid build-up of ketones, the blood becomes acidic. The usual symptoms of diabetes can occur along with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, and fruity-smelling breath. The treatment for DKA is a fluid replacement (by mouth or IV), electrolyte replacement, or insulin therapy.
Another problem, not necessarily one of mismanagement of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. This occurs when high blood sugar injures nerves in your body, usually in your hands and feet. Tingling and numbness of the extremities, burning or sharp pain in your legs and arms are symptoms associated with a worsening case of diabetic neuropathy. Treatment is usually through prescribed medicines.
Can diabetes be reversed or cured? Dr. Jason Fung authored a study in his Intensive Dietary Management Program. A small study published in BMJ Case Reports using three men who fasted for almost a year. Each participant was able to stop taking insulin within a month of their fast.
The published result was that these cases of Type 2 diabetes were reversed. Were they reversed of did diabetes go into remission? During a presentation, other experts in the field of diabetes disagreed with the findings. Time will provide further clarity.
Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology has been involved with many studies of aging. One study focused on fasting as an approach to stimulate and reset the pancreas to remove damaged beta cells and replace them with new healthy cells.
The fasting required a five-day fast conducted once a month for three months. Rather than a ‘water only’ fast, a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) was developed. An FMD allows a person to eat certain foods that keep the body in a fasting mode.
This study was done on mice. The results showed both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were reversed. The mice regained healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance, and stable blood glucose levels. Human studies found similarities in gene expression that predicts potential success for human diabetics.
The study also showed reduced risks for cancer, heart disease, and other age-related diseases in human participants. FDA trials are planned. Is it practical to consider a fast as part of the treatment to reverse or cure diabetes? The experts are working on it.