Discover The Best Diet To Reverse Type 2 Diabetes!
In my last post on best foods that fight diabetes, we looked at 4 foods which had the scientific evidence to show that they had the innate properties to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels. Today we are going to look at what is probably the best diet to reverse Type 2 diabetes.
For folks who don’t have diabetes, eating such foods will definitely help in preventing Type 2 diabetes, along with a healthy diet that is devoid of refined carbs and sugar.
However, for those who already have Type 2 diabetes, having a relatively healthy diet as described above and eating foods that control diabetes is not enough; they can only control their diabetes because once diagnosed with the condition there is little that can be done to reverse the condition, so says the medical community.
This means that diabetics will always need to take medication to get their blood sugar levels down to normal. But this in itself comes with a host of issues because all drugs have side effects, some of which can be serious.
Side Effects of Diabetes Medications
Take Metformin for instance, it’s one of the most common drugs prescribed for Type 2 diabetes patients. The side effects range from having a metallic taste in the mouth to lactic acidosis, which is essentially lactic acid building up in the bloodstream faster than it can be removed.
This is just 1 medication; depending on how serious the diabetes is, more medications may be added – which translates to more adverse effects. And diabetes medications do not cure or reverse the condition.
If the diabetes isn’t reversed, folks with the condition will always face the risks of hypoglycemia i.e. very low blood sugar and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) i.e. very high blood sugar in the short-term and diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy i.e. kidney disease associated with diabetes, and macrovascular problems in the long term.
So, what alternatives do folks with Type 2 diabetes have?
Apparently, in the last couple of years, there have been some breakthroughs in terms of scientific evidence regarding 2 diets that can or have the potential to reverse Type 2 diabetes. It’s the first of these 2 diets that I’d like to share with you today.
The Ketogenic or Very Low Carb Diet
The ketogenic diet aka low carb diet was first introduced in the 1920s as a medical intervention to reduce epileptic seizures in children. In its original form, the diet comprised about 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs.
Normally the body uses carbohydrates as fuel or energy source after it is converted to blood sugar. In the ketogenic diet, carbs in the diet are cut to minimum – usually 50 grams or less – so that the body forces itself to use fat or ketones as the energy source instead of blood sugar. Once the body reaches a ketogenic state i.e. uses ketones instead of blood glucose for energy, this led to a drastic reduction in pediatric epileptic seizures.
Presently the diet is still used for children with epileptic seizures that don’t respond to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
In recent years, research has intensified regarding the ketogenic or very low carb diet’s effectiveness in weight loss, combating cancer and both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
The Role of Insulin in Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a medical condition where your blood glucose levels are elevated to levels which are much higher than normal; this is called hyperglycemia.
Normally when blood sugar goes up after a meal, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin to moderate the blood sugar spikes so that the glucose in the blood is absorbed into the cells.
When the cells do not absorb glucose properly, the pancreas will produce more insulin to counteract this. Over time this will lead to what is known as insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, glucose accumulates in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells; if left untreated this will lead to prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
The premise of using the ketogenic or low carb diet to treat and reverse Type 2 diabetes is simple: since it is carbs that spike blood glucose levels, a drastic reduction in the consumption of this macronutrient will enable the body to lower blood glucose levels back to the normal range and at the same let the pancreas repair itself so that it can once again produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels from spiking.
The Ketogenic or Very Low Carb Diet’s Success in Treating Type 2 Diabetes
An increasing amount of research has shown that low carb diets are able to treat people with Type 2 diabetes successfully. Not only do low carb diets improve blood sugar levels and help in weight loss but evidence also shows the diet is also beneficial for heart health.
Ar 2-year study showed that a low-carb diet is effective in controlling blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes in the long term. The positive results on controlling blood sugar with a low carbs diet over the long term were confirmed in another study. A comparison between the low calorie diet and the very low carb diet showed that the latter is much more effective in diabetes management.
Perhaps the following study really shows the potential of the ketogenic diet in reversing Type 2 diabetes.
84 obese patients with Type 2 diabetes were divided into 2 groups. The 1st group’s diet was the ketogenic diet with 20 grams of carbs or less a day. The 2nd group was given a low glycemic reduced calories diet. Both groups were also given nutritional supplements and recommendations for exercise.
At the end of the 24-week study, the group that was on the ketogenic diet saw the most favorable results with 95.2% having either totally eliminated or drastically reduced their diabetes medications and insulin shots. The group that was given the reduced calorie and low GI diet saw less favorable results with only 62.1% success rate i.e. either totally eliminating or reducing their diabetes medications and insulin shots.
That having said, there are other studies such as this one that shows 20% of total calories from carbs i.e. roughly between 70 to 90 grams of carbs is also beneficial in treating Type 2 diabetes.
Probably what would convince most folks with Type 2 diabetes to try the ketogenic or very low carb diet would be the video testimony of someone like Dr. Jay Wortman, a physician who totally reversed his Type 2 diabetes with the diet.
Today, he remains cured of Type 2 diabetes and takes no medication. Basically what Dr. Wortman did was he stopped eating the foods that led to blood sugar spikes. In the process, his pancreas healed and was able to produce insulin again. You’ll also see in the 10 min video Dr. Wortman’s experience in detailing the ketogenic diet for kids and how his wife successfully used the ketogenic diet during pregnancy with no adverse effects at all.
What’s Off-Limits in the Ketogenic or Very Low Carb Diet?
- All grains and grain related products e.g. bread, pasta, noodles, rice, porridge & yes, not even oats.
- All processed foods.
- All root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, taro, lotus roots etc.
- All Legumes e.g. peas, lentils and beans.
- All milk including soy milk, almond milk etc
- Most fruits, only berries are allowed.
- All juice, soft drinks, punch, sweetened tea, etc.
- Beer & all alcoholic drinks.
- All desserts, baked goods, sweets, ice cream, etc.
Ok, I can probably hear some folks screaming, “But fruits and whole grains like oats are nutritious so why aren’t they allowed?” Yes, they are nutritious and are okay for folks who do not have diabetes. Once you have diabetes, you also have insulin resistance – this means that any carbs you eat, even those with supposedly low Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL), your blood glucose levels will spike.
What’s Allowed in the Ketogenic or Very Low Carb Diet?
- All meat e.g. grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, free-range poultry, fish and seafood.
- Avocadoes because they contain a high percentage of mono-saturated fats, coconuts and olives.
- Free range eggs.
- Cheese (NOT slice cheese which is highly processed)
- All leafy and cruciferous vegetables i.e. most vegetables except root vegetables listed above.
- Olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, lard, clarified butter or ghee, cream, sour cream, and cream cheese.
- A handful of raw nuts because most nuts have carbs.
- Coconut milk and cream and unsweetened almond milk.
What to Expect from the Ketogenic or Very Low Carb Diet
When you go the ketogenic diet, you need to ensure that your carbs don’t go above 50 grams a day; to calculate the grams of carbs in various vegetables, here’s a carb counter guide to help you.
As you drastically reduce the carbs, your body will go through a period of adjustment which is commonly known as the “low carb flu”. This is because your body needs to learn to shift its energy sources from carbs i.e. blood glucose to ketones i.e. fats.
You can use ketone strips to test if you’re in ketosis. Just wet the reagent area of the strip when you pass urine. A beige or cream color means no ketosis detected, and pink or purple means there are ketones detected in the urine. The darker the color the more you’re in ketosis. You can by ketone strips from any pharmacy.
According to Dr Andreas Eenfeldt of The Diet Doctor, during this initial transitional phase which will last anything from a few days to 2 weeks, you may experience:
- Weight loss especially during the 1st 2 – 3 weeks. This is because every gram of carb holds 3 grams of water. When you drastically reduce your carbs, you’ll experience increased urination as your body sheds the extra water weight. After the 1st 2 – 3 weeks, your weight loss will be stabilized i.e. more gradual as your body starts burning fat for energy instead of glucose.
- Irritability and brain fog – you can’t think at all and get irritated easily: this is perfectly normal. What you can do is to put half a teaspoon of salt into a large glass of water and drink it: after about 30 minutes such symptoms will ease. Drink this salt water drink once a day for the 1st week or until these symptoms disappear. Another thing you need to do is to dramatically increase your fat intake. Low carb plus low fat will put your body into starvation mode and you will feel terrible.
- Poor performance when you exercise or go to the gym to workout. This is because your body needs time to adjust to burning ketones (fat) instead of glucose (carbs) for energy and fuel. This adaptation will take weeks; however, the more you exercise while on a ketogenic diet, the faster the adaptation will take.
- Bad constipation happens to some folks, especially if this is the 1st time on a very low carb diet so the digestive system needs to adjust. There are a few ways to remedy this. You need to dramatically increase your water and fluid intake, and adding extra salt will also help. You also need to increase your intake of fiber through vegetables and perhaps also add psyllium seed husks into your water: this will give you enough fiber to normalize your bowel movements. If your constipation is really bad, you can also take Milk of Magnesia or Senna to relieve it. Psyllium husk powder or capsules and Milk of Magnesia can be bought in any supermarket or health food store; they are also available from my Amazon store in the bowel regularity section.
- Calf muscle cramps happens when you first start the ketogenic diet because of the increased urination. You lose water through increased urination; these can decrease the minerals in your body especially magnesium. Dramatically increasing your water intake and ensuring you have enough salt will help prevent the loss of magnesium and the leg cramps.
If need be you can buy magnesium supplements like Slow Mag and Mag64; take 3 sustain or slow release
magnesium tablets every day for 3 weeks. After that cut down to 1 tablet a day. Slow Mag and Mag64 are recommended by Drs. Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney in their best-selling book: The Art and Science of Low
Carbohydrate Living. Slow Mag, Mag64 and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living should be available at your local health food store; if not, you can always buy other Magnesium supplements from my Amazon store in the magnesium section. The book is also available from my Amazon store in the books section.
If despite taking all these measures, you still get calf muscle cramps, then you can increase your carbs to get out of ketosis; this will definitely put an end to the bothersome calf muscle cramps.
- Bad breadth when you’re on the ketogenic diet. The smell is described as fruity, like a nail polish remover. This is caused by your body is burning fat which is being converted to ketones to provide energy for the brain. This is usually temporary and will go away in a week or two. You can use a breath freshener in the meantime to counter this. But if it persists, then you can increase your carbs to get out of ketosis – this will definitely solve the problem.
- Heart palpitations and slightly elevated heart rate when you go on a very low carb or ketogenic diet. This is usually caused by dehydration and lack of salt. Again, this is normal and will usually resolve itself if you increase your water and fluid intake and ensure you get enough salt. But if it persists, then by all means get out of ketosis by increasing your carb intake.
If You’re On Metformin and Other Medications
Most Type 2 diabetics are prescribed either Metformin or Glipizide, sometimes both if the condition is serious. Please discuss with your doctor if you decide to try the ketogenic because if you take your diabetic medications and go on the ketogenic diet at the same time you may experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
If you’re on other medications for chronic illnesses, please consult your doctor before proceeding with the ketogenic diet
Final Note on the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet will definitely help folks with Type 2 diabetes because there’s surmounting evidence to show that it can or has the potential to reverse the condition. However, if you’re on medication or have other chronic conditions besides diabetes please check with your doctor before proceeding.
I have personally met folks, ex-diabetics who totally reversed their medical conditions using the ketogenic diet. I have also met others with prediabetes who got the condition under control without medication using a low carb, but not ketogenic diet.
If you decide to try the ketogenic diet, I would highly recommend that you get the book, “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” by Drs. Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney who are experts in this field. It’s available on my Amazon store at the book section.
If you have any questions regarding the ketogenic diet or any low carb diet, please leave your comments below, I’ll be more than happy to answer them.