Whether you are pre-diabetic, or are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, it is possible to reverse the symptoms and heal your body through food.. Because food is what got you there in the first place. I am hoping through this article to add to Mark’s Daily apple summary (see the first link below). So print out all this, and as Mark says, give it to your aunt! It is a comprehensive actionable summary, that anyone can start right now to stop or prevent ever becoming insulin-dependent (by the way, you will also loose weight).
Here we go. This is one of my favourite articles by one of my favourite bloggers, Mark Sisson, which sums up the Type II Diabetes issue quite well – read it before continuing, it explains the biochemical mechanisms behind this all: Mark’s Daily Apple
So, what to do in order to reverse the dangerous path towards T2D?
- Up your exercise level to increase your muscles’ insulin sensitivity
- Remove to the best of you ability all sugars and carbohydrates from your diet
- Stay away from processed and packaged foods
- Do not eat anything with added sugar or sweeteners (dairy is often sneaky, check for aspartame and fruit-sweetened, which are not okay)
- Add lots of high-quality fat to your dishes (grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil)
- If you can cut out all the sugar and carbs, aka ‘white things’ : sugar, wheat, pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, desserts, etc… (except cauliflower, that’s white and you can eat it!) then don’t worry about counting carbs. If it seems unsurmountable at first, try and see if you can stay under 100g net carbs/day, while still trying to reduce your ‘white things’ intake. It will be a good objective as a starting point.
Calculate the net carbs as carbs minus fiber.
For example, an avocado contains: total carbs = 12 grams, fiber = 10 grams, so net carbs = 10 – 2 = 2g. A piece of whole wheat toast = 23 – 3 = 20g net carbs). The USDA recommends 300g of carbs per day. DO NOT listen to them! (Information about the nutritional content of foods can be found on google, simply by typing in “avocado nutrition”)
Remember the core objective: you want to eat as little things as possible which raise your blood glucose levels, in order to regain insulin sensitivity. By loosing weight, you will also lower the concentration of fats in your blood stream, which again, helps restore insulin sensitivity.
Fats and protein do not raise blood glucose, so don’t be afraid of eating them (ok, if you eat A LOT of protein, it might. But as long as you don’t eat a whole chicken 3 times a day, you’re okay- stay at around 1g of protein/pound of body weight. For example, one egg= 7g of protein). Vegetables and nuts are so full of fiber that their net carbs are very low, and the high fiber content makes it hard for them to raise blood glucose more than very slightly. The big bad guys, again, are refined starches, sugars, which all end up as glucose in your blood, and make your insulin resistance worse.
Regaining insulin sensitivity will take a little bit of time, but even by loosing 1% of your body weight you will start feeling better, and your body will thank you.
How much a food raises blood sugar is calculated by its Glycemic Index. Pure table sugar has a Glycemic Index of 100. Ideally you want to eat things with a very low glycemic index, ranging from 0 (fats and proteins), to mid 20s – mid 30s range (most vegetables).
Here is a neat little list of foods and their glycemic index (there is on this list very little you should eat- it’s just to demonstrate my point. The damned rice cakes that diabetics believe are healthy: Glycemic index of 80!!).
Okay- now on to the fun stuff. What CAN you eat? We established less than 100g of net carbs per day, which means virtually unlimited amount of vegetables, along with 1g of protein/lb of body weight… And the rest of your sustenance, you will get from fat!
See the food pyramid below (again, thanks to Mark Sisson via Mark’s Daily Apple, all hail the king!)
Guys, time to cook some low-carb recipes!
Here is a little list of staples for your kitchen (try and pick local, organic, and in season if you can):
- Grass-fed butter and ghee (for cooking in the pan at high temperature or baking), Extra virgin olive oil (for medium heat and salad dressings)
- Coconut oil (must be virgin, with no aditives- for cooking as well, and it makes a killer moisturizer)
- Spices! Lots of spices. For example, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, try it on soups and sautéed vegetables. Be sure to add some black pepper on top, which is needed for absorption.
- Garlic and Onions
- Macadamia nuts (they are the nuts which contain the smallest amount of net carbs)
- Some extra dark dark chocolate for your sweet tooth
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Dark leafy green vegetables
Some more things to add to your shopping list:
- Wild caught fish (think of the planet, and limit your consumption)
- All the vegetables under the sun (sweet potatoes are also okay, but very sweet so try not to have them too often. Also, eat the skin, which increases the fiber content and reduces glycemic index)
- Other nuts, nut butter
- Tofu, miso
- Grass-fed/organic beef, chicken, any meat you fancy
- Full fat grass-fed dairy (e.g. greek yogurt, heavy cream) (with no sugar added)
- Cheese (grass-fed or organic is best)
- A few berries
- Beans (black, pinto, red, chickpeas…)
Pan-fried bacon + eggs cooked in bacon fat
Avocados, green veggies
Omelette with cheese
Full fat greek yogurt with a spoon of almond butter inside
1/2 cup of macadamia nuts
Cheese and a couple turkey slices
Cucumber dipped in hummus
Half apple with almond butter
Raw veggies dipped in hummus
Pan-fried brussel sprouts in ghee, with heavy cream
Smoked salmon with a large salad and avocado
Oven-roasted chicken, mashed cauliflower with parmesan
Veggie stir-fry with baked tofu
Cheeseburger with salad leaves instead of buns
Baked dish of brocoli, cream, carrots, onions, cheddar, with turkey breast
Two important notes
If you find yourself hungry less than 4 hours after your last meal, you probably having enough fat. Add a spoonful of ghee onto your food, and see how much longer you will feel sustained!
The reason grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy are better is because they have much higher Omega 3 content than their conventionally raised counterparts (article coming shortly to explain why this is good)