A recently published prospective study of the E3N EPIC trial showed considerable benefit from the antioxidant capacity of foods including fruits, vegetables and tea. Those who consumed the highest quintile of antioxidants reduced their diabetes risk 39 percent compared to the lowest quintile.
Interestingly, fruits had the greatest impact with a 23 percent decrease in risk, and vegetables followed with a 19 percent decrease.
This study serves two purposes. One, it shows that antioxidant capacity is important in food; and secondly it demonstrates that fruit actually has beneficial effects for those at risk of diabetes.
This is an impressive effect considering that people may have been eating many other items that may have not been beneficial in addition to fruits and vegetables.
In the Adventist Health Study, the results of a plant-based diet were very powerful. Unlike the EPIC trial, this compared people who were trying to eat healthy with those who ate either a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Results showed that those who ate a vegan diet and those who ate a vegetarian diet were at 62 and 38 percent, respectively, lower risk of developing diabetes than those who were eating a health-conscious omnivore diet.
A randomized controlled trial used drug therapy to reduce HbA1C to near non-diabetes levels. However, they could not achieve this before multiple deaths occurred. The reason, the researchers surmise, was too many drugs.
Fortunately, this is not the case with lifestyle modifications.
In one small, randomized controlled trial, Dr. Neal Barnard compared a low-fat vegan diet to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet at the time. The results showed that with a low-fat vegan diet, HbA1C was reduced significantly more than with the ADA diet.
The benefits of a plant-based diet have been known for many decades. A 1979 study on diabetes showed that insulin was significantly reduced by more than half on a high carbohydrate, high-plant fiber diet compared to a control diet.
This effect was seen in approximately three weeks. This showed reversal with diet over a short period of time.
More recently, in a retrospective case series with 13 men and women with type 2 diabetes, results showed that HbA1C was reduced from a mean of 8.2 percent to 5.8 percent over a seven-month period. This was an impressive reduction in HbA1C, and 62 percent of patients reached normal sugar levels. These patients were following a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet. I performed this study with Dr. Joel Fuhrman using patients in his practice.
In my clinical practice, I have seen many diabetes patients successfully reverse their disease. Let me share one anecdotal story.
A 55-year-old white male patient told me that no relative had lived past 57, because they died from diabetes complications. He is currently 60 years old or, as he likes to put it, “three years past expiration date.”
When he first came to see me, he was on four diabetes medications, plus a statin. He is no longer on any. These results were seen in only two months.
While medications are important for the treatment of diabetes, nothing seems to trump lifestyle modifications. Diet, especially, can play both prevention and reversal roles.
For further information, visit medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.