What is the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes? The research overwhelmingly points in one direction, and Michael Pollan, author or “Omnivore’s Dilemma” summed it up perfectly in his famous 7 words:
“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”
Why should you care about type 2 diabetes and the best diet for preventing or reversing it? Because your life and quality of life could depend on it.
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Medical bills, frequent doctor visits, daily finger sticks, shots, pills, heart attacks, amputations, dialysis, blindness - these are just some of the things diabetes can fill your life with.
If only we knew how to prevent diabetes! We would have the freedom to live our lives as we wish, doing what we're passionate about, spending our savings on fun stuff instead of medical stuff. Spending our days with our children, lovers, grandchildren, friends, golf buddies and fellow travelers.
Diabetes takes that freedom from too many of us.
Fortunately, the research is pretty clear on how to prevent diabetes. With the right food, modest weight loss, and a little bit of exercise – 150 minutes of walking per week- you have the best chances of preventing it. This is based on a decade of research done by the NIH, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).
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Here is why diabetes is everyone’s problem.
Diabetes Becomes More Common Each Year
The number of adults suffering from type 2 diabetes in the US is astounding, and it has gotten consistently worse in the last 20 years. The reasons are most likely our inactivity, consumption of massive amounts of calorically dense, low nutrient foods [AKA the Standard American Diet – SAD], and our ever expanding waistlines.
· As of 2012, 29.1 million Americans over the age of 20 have type 2 diabetes.
· That means almost 1 out of every 10 Americans currently has diabetes. And, sadly, those odds keep increasing.
· 86 million Americans have prediabetes.
· If you have diabetes, your chance of dying prematurely is 1.5 times higher than if you didn’t.
Diabetes Costs Billions (get the CDC's Report here free)
· Diabetes costs us $245 BILLION every year which is almost doubling in 5 years
· As an individual with diabetes, you will spend nearly $2,000 per year out of pocket ($13K plus if you don’t have good insurance)
For more statistics on the costs of diabetes, check out the free report from CDC.
Diabetes Can Ruin Your Quality of Life and Send You to an Early Grave
· Today, 200 Americans will have an amputation due to diabetes.
· Dialysis will start for 136 people today because of diabetes.
· And nearly 250, 000 people will die this year due to diabetes.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep from being included in these grim statistics.
You’ve got to keep your weight and BMI in the healthy range, or as close to it as possible. And, eating a plant centered diet is the most likely way to make that happen.(see graph)Vegetarian and vegan diets are gaining popularity among celebrities (Ellen Page, James Cromwell, Alicia Silverstone, Ariana Grande, Ellen DeGeneres, Joaquin Phoenix, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Mayim Bialik, Joan Jett, Moby, Russell Simmons, James Cameron, and Al Gore), as well as us regular people.
But, is it just another fad diet?
I don’t think so. Fads are usually based on research done by just a research group or 2 worldwide, gaining popularity with the masses out of sheer desperation.
On the other hand, research in favor of eating less meat, dairy and saturated fat while increasing intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds has been gaining momentum over the last 20-30 years.
Despite the lack of funding to back research on vegetarian diet patterns, as opposed to the very well funded Beef Association and Dairy Council, the evidence irrefutably shows that the more plants and less animal-derived food you eat is the best way to increase your health and your healthy years. (see graph: less animal foods=lower BMI=less diabetes risk).
An eating pattern rich in plants reduces your risk for heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and the list goes on.
The first line of treatment for heart disease, prediabetes and diabetes is supposed to be “lifestyle intervention.”
The Diabetes Prevention Program (studied by an arm of the National Institutes of Health) showed that even modest changes in eating and activity prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes.
There can be no doubt that food and movement are the number 1 way to increase your health and longevity. And, the eating pattern that gives you the absolute best chances at your best health is one based primarily on whole plant foods.
As a nation, we are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which can take away our freedom, health and life. Stay tuned for my next post, which will outline the plant based diet in more detail!
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