Plant Based Diets can help Type One Diabetes!

So much as been written about diabetes and the diabetes epidemic that you can be forgiven for not understanding that there is a difference between Type One diabetes and Type Two diabetes. When someone refers to diabetes, they are generally referring to Type Two diabetes, as it is the most common form.

In layman’s terms T2 diabetes is often the type that gets referred to as a lifestyle disease as it typically accompanies obesity. T2 diabetics can produce some insulin, but not enough to do its job. A T1 diabetic doesn’t produce any insulin.

I have T1 diabetes and I was diagnosed when I was 18 years old. Essentially, I have a pancreas inside my body that doesn’t work, so I wear an insulin pump as a kind of make-shift pancreas.

What my insulin pump looks like

What my insulin pump looks like

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best one out there at the moment. In a nutshell, basically what happens is that when I eat, my blood sugar levels rise because doesn’t produce any insulin. That said though, if I don’t use enough insulin to cover the food I’m eating, then my blood sugar drops and I’ll need to eat some glucose (this is the part everyone knows = feeding jelly beans to the diabetic kid).

T1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, there is no cure. With T2 diabetes, often it can be reverse once a T2 diabetic loses weight and eats right. But with both of the types there are A LOT of long-term health risks, particularly if you have long-term high blood sugar levels. Some of the complications and risks are:

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of blindness (diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults)
  • Huge risk of kidney disease
  • Death….

Among other things of course. So clearly, I want to do the best I can to attempt to balance my blood sugar levels. But it’s not that easy. It’s like trying to balance on a tightrope! There is no rhyme or reason. Little things like stress, change in weather, exercise, moods, hormones, differing brands of food, wellness all can create HUGE changes in your blood sugar levels. For example, if you ate the same breakfast every single day, you wouldn’t always need the same dosage of insulin, some days you’ll need a lot more and some days you’ll need a lot less! It can be extremely frustrating. But, you know what, I have to deal with it, because the last thing I want is to die early because of my diabetes.

My diabetes has been a huge motivator for me to concentrate on my health. If I can improve my health even by the tiniest amount, I will do whatever it takes. This is why this journey is so important to me.

Now, the whole reason I am posting is because of a book I’m reading at the moment, ‘The China Study’ by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell. It’s been sitting on my shelf for almost a year, and I picked it up for the first time last week. I was flicking through it and came to a couple of sections about diabetes. I really wish I had picked it up sooner, because this is the first time I’ve read anything about T1 diabetes and eating a plant based diet. There is a lot written on T2 diabetes and plant based eating, and I know first hand how much eating a plant based diet has helped me. But there is actual research conducted! I tweeted about it straight away, because it was honestly one of the most satisfying moments ever. Finally, an indication I’m doing something right for my diabetes (I know it’s right for my health, but I wasn’t sure how it would affect my diabetes).

The cause of T1 has yet to be fully proven, though if you read The China Study they say “there is strong evidence that this disease is linked to diet and, more specifically to dairy products” (pg187). There is a lot written about the subject in The China Study, and if you’re interested I would strongly suggest you read it, because it would be impossible for me a non-sciency person to attempt to detail why!

The other exciting bit I read, and probably the most exciting bit. There was a study conducted by James Anderson, M.D. on T1 diabetics where he put his patients on a Standard American Diet for one week and then switched them to a plant-based, veggie diet for three weeks. Tee results showed that after just THREE WEEKS, the “T1 diabetic patients were able to lower their insulin medication by an overage of 40%” (pg 151-152). Their cholesterol levels also dropped by 30%, and because diabetic complications are a huge concern, this is an incredible finding!

To me this is an amazing find. I know that I have definitely reduced my need for insulin. My basal and bolus rates have gone down, and my cells seem to have increased their insulin sensitivity! I’m off to the doctor to get my latest test results on Wednesday, so I’m keen to see how everything goes.

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