I’ve had people tell me that Type 2 Diabetes, the kind I have, is reversible through diet. Is this true? —Julian
It’s funny how important news like that manages to go quietly under the radar, especially when there are gargantuan industries out there whose one job is to spread the good word. But you’d never know such a radically simple treatment for Type 2 Diabetes even existed if you looked at, for instance, the American Diabetes Association website. When landing on their homepage you do not come upon a banner headline reading, “STUDIES SHOW THAT DIET ALONE CAN CURE YOUR TYPE 2 DIABETES!!!”
Rather, what you find is a page popping with donation requests. Nearly every image and every link feels as if it’s been placed for the sole purpose of pulling in cash, so much so that the phrase “Donate Today to Stop Diabetes” has even been trademarked. “Donate Now,” “Donate Today,” “Give in Honor,” “Give in Memory,” “Shop to Stop Diabetes,” “Shop All Gifts Now,“ “Place your order,” “Last Chance for Delivery,” flash everywhere on the page. There’s a link inviting you to join the ADA’s 12 month program, “Living with Type 2 Diabetes.” This program is generously funded by Walmart, Lilly, and Boehringer Ingelheim. Another link asks you to pledge your commitment to the ADA by transferring into their coffers your will, retirement plan, life insurance policy, life income gifts, trusts, etc. Still another asks you to sign a petition to stop diabetes. This page, though no less aimed at taking in your cash, is the only one I came across that actually had hard numbers or information of any significant kind relating to diabetes itself. The petition, excerpted below, speaks to the troubling statistics of this otherwise preventable illness:
Diabetes is a serious threat to America’s public health and economy.
- A staggering 105 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes today.
- Diabetes is more deadly than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
- Unless we change course, 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050.
We are at a tipping point in our national response to diabetes. Congress needs to invest now at levels that address the true human and economic burdens of diabetes…
- We know what works, based on previously-funded research and prevention efforts...
We urge Congress to provide the highest possible funding for critical diabetes research and prevention programs.
I’ll admit to being initially comforted in seeing the ADA had a firm grasp on the data. It led me to believe they were on top of things, were somehow in charge, had inside information on ways of turning things around if not stopping dead in its tracks a national affliction pummeling millions of lives and crippling our health care system. Indeed, I was heartened to see they knew “what works,” whatever that might mean, and since that knowledge was predicated on funded research, I had to believe it was nothing other than solid, ordained and true. Curious to know more, I clicked on the “Type 2 Diabetes” link in hopes of getting a clearer picture on this yet undivulged information about what works. This, unfortunately, dropped me onto a page that amounted to little more than a short preamble to buying a book, “8 Weeks to Maximizing Diabetes Control.”
Not one to be discouraged, though admittedly I was starting to feel a bit strung along, I followed that link with still faint hope the book might clarify and expand on the rather nebulous assertion of “what works.” But far from even hinting at anything workable, the book convolutedly claims to be a “diabetes management plan that helps you manage your diabetes. It’s the plan for when you don’t have a plan.” Hmmm. If ever a claim were so singularly self-devouring it is this one. They are words borne of the very sugar this organization suggests we manage, empty and without any real substance at all. Yet this is the only book on the page the ADA offers to help people with Type 2 Diabetes.
Perhaps my expectations were to high, not only for the book but for the ADA in general, because if an organization of this size and with such monumental patronage and wealth can offer so little in the form of clarity or specificity or depth of content, then maybe they’re the wrong leaders for those in often desperate need to be turning to for full disclosure of what works in not just managing or controlling but in altogether overcoming the disease.
It becomes clear very quickly that the ADA’s sole mission is not to cure (the word “cure” doesn’t even show up on their website); it’s to help you “live with,” “manage,” “treat,” “care for,” “medicate” and “control” your disease for the rest of your life. In other words, they are at the forefront of normalizing diabetes, as if it were an inevitable consequence of these modern times and, as such, ours to merely live with and accept.
Without question the disease, at least Type 2 of it, is an inevitable consequence of the Western diet, as processed and fat-saturated as it is, but by no means was it inevitable that out of nowhere in history so many millions were left to contend with a debilitating and life-shortening illness just because they happened to be living at this moment in history. Nothing viral has happened to ramp up the incidence of diabetes, nor did our biologies en masse suddenly change circa 1980 when the disease began to swiftly take an upward tack. In 1980 5.8 million people in the US had diabetes. Today, as noted, 105 million either have it or are on course for it. Only one thing attributable has changed in those 30 years, and that is the full-blown transformation of our food system, which is now wholly dominated by corporately manufactured foods. This one point the ADA does not speak to on their website, nor is it to be found anywhere in their literature.
It is my humble suggestion that you be wary of such unwieldy and evasive organizations, and even more strongly I caution you against allowing them to manage or medicate your life, especially those organizations who are so massively funded by food manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.
I can say with confidence that the ADA (as with the FDA) will never officially tell you that, for instance, that if you eat exclusively raw foods for just one week there is a strong possibly that by the end of the week you’ll no longer need your insulin or oral medications. This startling reversal has been shown to happen time and again in study after study around the globe. Continue on that same diet for 30 days and you should expect to find your blood sugar has normalized completely.
These same studies continue to show that returning to a more traditional plant-based diet virtually eradicates Type 2 Diabetes. How so? In most cases, Type 2 Diabetes is caused by cells that are so clogged with fat that they become unresponsive to insulin, a hormone that signals the cell to pull glucose from the blood. These fat deposits effectively shut down the cell’s own insulin receptors, causing glucose to bypass the cell and continue on down the bloodstream. Glucose is the fuel for our cells. Without it our bodies and brains shut down. A diet low in fat, on the other hand, while also being high in fiber and light on calories, allows our cells to do what they want to do on their own: heal themselves. We see this every day when our skin heals after a cut. Cells naturally self-repair. So when given the chance they also very quickly kick out excess fat and return to their normally responsive state that once again allows for insulin to escort glucose into the cell.
Until we make a conscious decision to remove from our diet not just unhealthy foods but all foods advertised to us, since these “foods” have been crafted, designed, specifically for our tongues and our addictive tendencies, then we as individuals and as a nation will continue to battle diabetes. This is an empirical truth.
If you are trying to stabilize your blood sugar (or your mood, or your heart, or your asthma, or your weight…) a good rule to follow is to avoid any food marketed to you in an ad. Don’t buy it. Don’t eat it. Avoid it outright. Instead, embrace a more traditional diet of whole foods and watch your body beautifully heal itself; watch your Type 2 Diabetes fade quietly away.
Christopher Hassett is a life coach and teacher of self awareness. You can reach him through his website at threeperfections.com. Do you have a question you’d like Christopher to respond to in this column? Email him at email@example.com.