Lifestyle Works

The Best Diet For Adult Onset Diabetes

"What is the best diet for adult-onset diabetes?" This question has long been the subject of lively debate. While multiple studies have suggested a low-fat vegan diet as optimal for Type 2 diabetics, many have argued that a totally plant-based, no-sugar and low-fat diet would be difficult, if not impractical, for the average person to understand and adopt.

In a search for answers, Dr. Neil Barnard (of Washington D.C.) and colleagues studied a group of more than 100 adult-onset diabetics. The majority of study participants were on multiple medications who did not have their blood sugar under control. Dr. Barnard randomly divided the diabetics into two groups. The first group ate the diet prescribed by the American Diabetic Association (ADA) during the study, while the second group stuck to a low-fat, vegan diet. Dieticians who fully believed in each approach explained the assigned diet to each patient to ensure that they fully understood.

Dr. Barnard found the low-fat vegan diet to be far superior to the ADA diet in controlling blood pressure, blood sugars and blood lipids (including cholesterol and triglycerides). Greater medication reductions were also made in those who followed the low-fat vegan diet.

The greatest surprise resulting from the study, in the eyes of many, was the fact that there was greater compliance with the low-fat vegan diet than the ADA diet. For years, health professionals who realized the benefit of the vegan diet have tossed it aside because of the assumed lack of compliance.

The ADA diet, which allows consumption of pretty much any food in small amounts, was thought to be much easier to maintain. The higher compliance rate for the low-fat vegan diet in Dr. Barnard's study showed this assumption to be false. The continuous need to count grams of carbohydrates, milligrams of cholesterol, and calories discouraged many of the patients on the ADA diet, who eventually gave up and ate whatever they wanted. In contrast, the low-fat vegan diet, with its lack of carbohydrate restrictions, was actually easier to understand and comply with than the ADA diet.

Health professionals who believe in the benefits of a vegan diet and can teach adult-onset diabetics how to incorporate it may reap the following results:

* Increased blood sugar control

* Substantial reduction in risk of complications

* A greater probability of compliance with the prescribed diet, even long-term

* Better weight control

Although Dr. Barnard's research involved a one-year study, he has now released data showing that patients can maintain the diet for a longer term (greater than 18 months) with a high degree of satisfaction.

Bottom line: In addition to being the most effective diet for adult-onset diabetes, the low-fat vegan diet is the one patients find easiest to comply with, long-term, as well.

~Dr Neil Nedley, April 2008 newsletter

Meal Timing On An Optimal Lifestyle Program

Most people do not realise that their glucose tolerance decreases as the day progresses. This means that toward evening, your body's ability to handle sugar decreases.

In a study of subjects with Type 2 diabetes, absolute blood sugar levels are 10-15 percent higher when eating six times a day (three meals and three snacks) compared to just three meals a day.

Years ago, before very precise insulin types were available, a snack at bedtime was recommended for diabetics because the insulin levels peaked in the middle of the sleep period. The bedtime snack helped prevent hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar. Today, with the types of insulin available, this is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive.

Our heaviest meal should be in the morning, emphasising fruits and grains. This prepares us for the most active part of the day. A substantial meal for lunch, including several servings of vegetables, is also important. As the day progresses, our ability to handle blood sugar decreases, so a lighter meal in the evening (ideally for obese Type 2 diabetics, no evening meal) with no refined sugar is the best rule to follow. Asking your doctor to tailor your insulin injections so that this programme can be followed can produce great benefits.

~Proof Positive, Neil Nedley, page 182

Recipe of the Month

Lentil Rice Burgers

2 T wholemeal flour
1 c cooked rice
1 onion, chopped
¼ c celery, chopped
4 T tomato puree
1 c cooked lentils
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt
2 t miso

Sauté onion and celery. Mix all ingredients together. If too sloppy, add some flour. Form into patties and bake at 180c for 30-40 minutes. Use in burgers or serve with mashed potatoes and a salad.