Defeat Diabetes With The D-Diet
People with both types of diabetes will benefit hugely from the D-Diet although those with type 1 will always need to take insulin. However, type 1 diabetics can use the D-Diet to keep insulin doses to a minimum and markedly reduce their risk of further health complications.
Our approach is based on what you eat, not on counting how much you eat. Maybe surprisingly, what you eat actually regulates how much you eat, and we'll come to that later.
Research has shown that it is perfectly possible to reverse type 2 diabetes - decrease blood sugar levels, medication and the risk of complications - with the right diet. A number of trials have achieved significant improvements, enabling patients to lower or discontinue medication after just three weeks. Added benefits include weight loss, alleviation of diabetes-related pain (neuropathic pain) and a significant drop in heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Alongside these studies, the dietary patterns of nearly 3,000 volunteers without diabetes were analysed and their risk of diabetes established. The main indicators were repeatedly measured - blood glucose, insulin concentrations, cholesterol levels and waist circumference. The findings were clear: eating a diet based mainly on plant foods protects against insulin resistance, whilst refined grains, high-fat dairy, sweet baked foods, sweets and sugary soft drinks increase it.
Basic principles of the D-Diet
These are the basic principles of a diet which can prevent, treat and reverse diabetes. Anyone with diabetes switching to this new diet should be in close touch with their doctor because glucose control and insulin sensitivity can improve relatively quickly and there might be a need to adjust medication. Never take this decision by yourself - always consult a doctor.
1st principle: no to all animal products
By rejecting all animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs, you will avoid eating substantial amounts of fat and your cholesterol intake will be, literally, zero. Even lean white meat and fish contain surprising amounts of fat. For example, 38 per cent of calories from roast chicken and 40 per cent of calories from salmon come from fat. All fish, despite being promoted as a source of omega-3 fats, also contain cholesterol and a significant proportion of their fat is saturated - between 15 and 30 per cent, depending upon the species.
Even low-fat varieties of dairy products inevitably contain fat and most of it is saturated. There is absolutely no need for saturated fats in our diet.
Cutting down fat intake is vital for many reasons - to help muscle cells reduce the amount of fat interfering with insulin sensitivity, to improve heart health, to reduce the risk of many degenerative diseases and to promote weight loss.
But there are other reasons to avoid animal products. Animal proteins found in meat, dairy and eggs put an additional strain on the kidneys and can eventually harm them. Plant proteins do not have the same effect. Protecting the kidneys is another key issue on the way to better health.
All foods should be of plant origin and unrefined wherever possible, which means they are naturally high in fibre and complex carbohydrates and low in fat, with the exception of oils, nuts and seeds. Animal products contain no fibre or healthy carbohydrates. We can get all the essential nutrients we need from plant foods.
Avoiding certain foods is ultimately easier than attempting to limit their intake. Attempting just to reduce how much you eat of a particular food is rarely successful as the cravings for those foods might never be lost. Avoiding problem foods entirely allows your taste to adjust to the new way of eating and problem foods won't be so appealing!
2nd principle: low fat
Even though vegetable oils are better than animal fats as they contain essential fatty acids, less saturated fat and no cholesterol, it is still important to keep them to a minimum.
The body needs to get rid of the fats accumulated inside its cells and it can only do this when it is not being continually supplied with excessive amounts of fat. Low-fat food means that the body will get the essential quantity of fat it needs but not more.
The amount of fat per serving should not exceed three grams, or 10 per cent of calories from fat at any given meal. Diabetics should also limit their consumption of nuts and seeds. (Small amounts of vegetable oils such as flaxeed oil should be consumed though).
3rd principle: low GI
Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the effects of carbohydrate sugars and starches on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose quickly have a high GI; those that break down more slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. It is these latter types of food that are the ones you need.
Low GI means that after eating a particular food, blood glucose won't reach overly-high levels, which is exactly what diabetics need, not only to better control their blood sugar but also to avoid complications caused by hyperglycaemia (high levels of blood sugar). These can include eye problems, nerve damage and kidney disease.
Low GI foods also prevent episodes of hypoglycaemia where blood glucose levels become too low which can result in feeling weak, shaky, fainting or even becoming comatose!
In summary, the D-Diet contains only foods from plant sources, minimum amounts of oils and is high in foods with a low glycemic index. The D-Diet is based on the following food groups - wholegrains, pulses, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. While limiting the types of food eaten, the D-Diet does not limit the amount you eat because all these foods are high in fibre and digested gradually, which makes you feel fuller sooner and for longer. The minimal amount of fat it contains naturally limits calorie intake.
|The Glycemic Index of Selected Foods|
|Lo GI||55 or less||Most fruits and vegetables, pulses (beans, soya, peas, lentils, chickpeas), barley, buckwheat, hummus, pasta, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, dried apricots and prunes, rolled oats, all-bran cereals, wholegrain pumpernickel bread, soya yoghurt and products low in carbohydrates|
|Medium GI||59-69||wholewheat bread, rye bread, crisp bread, brown rice, basmati rice, corn, porridge oats, shredded wheat, pineapple, cantaloupe melon, figs, raisins, beans in tomato sauce|
|High GI||70 and above||potatoes, watermelon, pumpkin, white bread, French baguette, white rice, rice cakes, corn flakes, processed breakfast cereals, dates, sugary foods|
Here's why the D-Diet works
What we eat has en enormous effect on our metabolism, not least the fact that fats can accumulate in our cells and seriously damage our health by triggering a whole range of problems. This plant-based, wholesome and low-fat diet works on many levels and for both types of diabetes. Here's why.
1 Improves metabolism
It eliminates fat stores in your cells and thus improves cell metabolism, enabling it to work properly and remove fatty obstacles standing in the way of insulin sensitivity.
2 Helps hearts
When you steer away from refined (white) carbohydrates (such as white bread, white pasta, sweets, etc.) and fats and eliminate animal products from your diet, the risk of heart and circulation problems - high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and triglycerides and atherosclerosis - plummets. There is no cholesterol in plant-based foods.
3 Cares for kidneys The kidneys can cope with plant protein much better than with animal protein. By switching to a vegan diet, you relieve your kidneys. High protein diets work the liver and kidneys hard to filter out nitrogen products from protein metabolism. The kidneys dilate their blood vessels to filter out this protein waste and animal protein causes greater dilation than plant protein. Plant-derived proteins are also lower in sulphur and demand less from the kidney's filtration system. Research has shown that among people with any degree of kidney damage, animal protein increases the risk of further damage, whilst a vegan diet has a protective effect.
4 Protects organs
Many diabetes-associated complications are caused by the damage done to the blood vessels by poor blood sugar control (high glucose levels) and by raised cholesterol levels, which can harm the walls of arteries. Diets based on starchy, high-fibre foods remove excess cholesterol and enable the body to digest carbohydrates gradually, preventing blood glucose levels from rising too high and damaging blood vessels. This is extremely important for the eyes, kidneys and heart - organs which are particularly at risk from diabetes.
5 Sheds weight
The D-Diet also induces general weight-loss, which is a much desired effect. It does so without portion restriction and therefore brings about the positive change of losing weight without leaving you hungry. This is actually a very important issue because numerous restrictions and limitations and the lack of positive results make many diabetics depressed. Every 14 grams of fibre reduce the calorie intake by about ten per cent.
Research shows that the results in patients who follow this diet are better than any single drug can manage.
D-Diet nutrition basics
A healthy diet which will bring about a reversal of diabetes or significant improvement in the condition should be based on the food groups in the table opposite.
One to two litres of water per day (at least eight glasses) should also be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Tea, especially herbal teas, can be counted as water.
Wholegrains are rich in complex carbohydrates (see below) and therefore have a low GI. Pulses are high in protein and all types have a low GI. Virtually all vegetables have a low GI and contain many essential vitamins and minerals as well as cancerfighting antioxidants.
It is a common misconception that because fruits are sweet, they should be avoided by diabetics. In fact, nearly all fruits have a low GI, with the exception of watermelons and pineapples. Moreover, they are full of antioxidants and contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals.
* Important note on grapefruit: grapefruit or grapefruit juice can influence the effects of some medications. For example it can increase the blood concentration of some blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs, antihistamines and some psychiatric medications. If you are on any kind of medication, it is necessary to consult how grapefruit might affect you with your doctor.
Complex carbohydrates, also known as starchy carbohydrates or polysaccharides, are natural compounds found in many foods. All carbohydrates, simple or complex, are made up of sugar molecules. If three or more of these molecules are bound together, it is considered a complex carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are healthier than simple carbohydrates, which contain just one or two sugar molecules, because it takes the body longer to break them down. This slow digestion releases sugar into the bloodstream slowly, providing the body with a continual supply of energy rather than a short burst. Vegetables, pulses and wholegrains are high in complex carbohydrates.
Alpha - omega
To ensure sufficient intake of essential omega-3 fats, natural sources such as flaxseed (linseed), hempseed, walnuts or rapeseed oil should be made part of a daily diet. The body only needs small amounts so the low-fat rule applies even to these 'good' fats.
- Flaxseed (linseed), hempseed: 1 tbsp of milled (ground) seeds, sprinkled on breakfast cereal or added to smoothies, or 1 tsp of oil added to any meal when serving. It should not be heated as this will destroy its properties
- Walnuts - 5-8 halves
- Rapeseed oil - 1 tbsp for cooking
A vegan diet based on the above principles is the healthiest possible but there is a need for added vitamin B12, either in a supplement (available in health food shops and chemists) or from fortified foods such as soya milk and margarines. This requirement is not vegan specific as B12 supplementation is recommended for all people above the age of 50, including meat eaters. B12 requirements may be higher in diabetics because the commonly taken drug, Metformin can reduce absorption of this vital vitamin (Diabetes UK, 2008).
That well-planned, plant-based diets work successfully has been confirmed time and again by scientific research. As the latest review on nutrition and health makes clear - a vegetarian diet, is nutritionally suitable for adults and children and promotes better health. The same review also states that vegetarians have lower body weight, lower cholesterol (including the bad stuff - LDL), lower blood pressure, fewer deaths from heart disease, fewer strokes and reduced levels of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
D-Diet Nutrition Basics
A healthy diet which will bring about a reversal of diabetes or significant improvement in the condition should be based on the following food groups each day.
|No. of Servings||Foods||Healthy Portion Size||To Provide|
At Least 5
||Fruit & Vegetables Eaten preferably whole or in smoothies (juices have Folate, (folic acid) Calcium, higher GI because they don't contain fibre)||
Folate, (folic acid) Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fibre, Iron, Antioxidants
|Fresh Fruit||1 medium piece|
|Dried Fruit||1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons|
|Green or Root Vegetables||3 tablespoons|
|Salad Vegetables||1 cereal bowl|
||Wholegrains Wholegrain pasta, brown rice, oats, rye bread, grains such as wheat, spelt, barley, millet, quinoa, etc||Energy, Fibre, B Vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Protein|
|Cooked brown rice||3 heaped tablespoons|
|Breakfast cereal||25g or 1 regular sized cereal bowl|
|Cooked wholemeal pasta||1 cup as side dish or 2 cups as main dish|
|Wholemeal or rye bread||2 slices|
2 or 3
||Pulses Beans, lentils, soya, peas, chickpeas, tofu and low-fat soya and bean products (burgers, sausages, mock meat, yoghurts etc.)||Protein, Energy, Fibre, Iron, Calcium, Other Minerals|
|11/2 cup (cooked)|
|1||Nuts or Seeds||1 tablespoon||Protein, Energy, Vitamin E Fibre, Iron, Calcium, Other Minerals, Vitamin E|
||Margarine and vegetable oils||1 teaspoon per portion||Vitamin A & D (fortified margarine), Energy, Vitamin E (vegetable oils), Essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats (flaxseed, soya, walnut, hemp)|
At Least 1
B12 Supplement or fortified foods such as
fortified soya milk, fortified breakfast cereal, yeast extract (eg. Marmite)
1-2 litres of water per day ( eight glasses) should also be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Tea, especiallyl herbal teas, count as water. If you are on medication, consult your doctor on how grapefruit might affect you.