Even though ours is a pill-popping, drug-oriented culture, food is really our best medicine.
In 90% of all chronic and degenerative diseases, poor diet is either the direct cause or a significant factor. This is especially true for Type 2 diabetes.
There is no stage of Type 2 that can’t be helped by making some smart dietary changes. And the earlier they are made, the more dramatic the health improvements will be.
The “prescription” is simple
As Dr. Ripich and I demonstrate in The 30-Day Diabetes Cure, a few simple changes in a patient’s eating habits can actually reverse Type 2 so that all metabolic functions, including the body’s insulin production, return to normal.
Here’s the shorthand version…
1. Quit consuming the foods and beverages that spike your blood sugar and trigger the insulin response (sweets, sodas, juices, plus refined carbs such as bread, baked goods, pasta, chips, and grain-based commercial foods, like breakfast cereals). Over-consuming these can cause Type 2, and even small amounts will make it worse.
2. Start eating more of the foods that heal the damage that insulin-resistance and diabetes have done to your body. These are what I call “the diabetes-healing superfoods[JP1] .” Here are the top 5 according to extensive scientific research…
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, controlling blood sugar has a huge impact on how you feel — and this marvelous monounsaturated oil can really help.
A 2006 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine put people on either a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet emphasizing EVOO, or a Mediterranean diet emphasizing nuts. Those getting more olive oil and nuts had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those on the low-fat diet.
Thanks to the powerful antioxidant, oleocanthal (responsible for the strong, peppery “bite” freshly-pressed olive oil produces when consumed) EVOO also reduces inflammation, one of the root causes of diabetes. (Beware: Inflammation destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.)
Getting inflammation under control is essential for healing — and reversing — Type 2 and prediabetes. The study mentioned above also found that the olive oil diet lowers C-reactive protein, an indicator of systemic inflammation.
Unfortunately, the olive oil in your supermarket won’t cut the mustard. EVOO’s inflammation-fighting properties begin to fade after pressing. The longer it sits around, the weaker it gets. (Most supermarket olive oil can be a year old — or older.)
Worse, the olive oil industry is rife with scandals. Because of the premium price it commands, many companies are tempted to fluff up their products with cheaper oils, such as soybean and rapeseed, to their products to maximize profits.
That’s why I never buy supermarket olive oil, even from the big natural foods chains. Instead, my EVOO is delivered to my home just days after it has been fresh-pressed, thanks to my good friend T. J. Robinson, a.k.a “The Olive Oil Hunter.” And the flavor of T.J.’s olive oils puts those supermarket brands to shame.
Pacific wild-caught salmon
In 2010, University of California researchers discovered that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in cold-water fish improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
This is good news for folks with any type of blood sugar disorder, but the story keeps getting better…
A 17-year-long study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that elevated blood levels of omega-3 protect against sudden death from heart disease — while lower levels actually increase the danger.
Here’s why this is important: 75% of diabetic fatalities are caused by heart attack or stroke. That’s an astonishing number!
It’s easy to see why preventing and healing cardiovascular disease is so important if you have diabetes — which is why omega-3 fish is a true “diabetes superfood.”
You should try to eat two or three servings per week, but be sure to go “wild,” and avoid farm-raised fish. Farmed salmon is notoriously low in omega-3’s … contains unhealthy chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) … is frequently genetically-engineered “Frankenfish” … and is raised in ecologically “dirty” conditions.
In Alaska, wild salmon are protected, while farmed salmon are banned. When you purchase salmon labeled “wild Alaskan,” you’re getting a clean product with high levels of omega-3. My favorite source is Vital Choice, a family-owned fishery that delivers superior-tasting salmon to my front door for about the same price I used to pay at Whole Foods.
Their canned wild salmon costs much less than their fresh-frozen filets — yet the omega-3 content is just as good. My very favorite MyHealingKitchen.com recipe using canned wild salmon is Salmon Burgers with Citrus Dressing. Yum!
Beans and legumes
There isn’t a better food for controlling blood sugar, reducing medication needs, and reversing Type 2.
Beans contain natural compounds that lower blood sugar … reduce your body’s need for insulin (your own and in drug form) … and give your poor, overworked pancreas a much-needed rest.
In addition, beans and legumes are packed with so much fiber that adding them to any meal lowers its total glycemic load, lowering the total rise in blood sugar. Beans eaten today also improve your glucose tolerance tomorrow, which gives you twice the bang for your bite!
In addition, beans and legumes provide an abundant supply of magnesium. Getting more of this healing mineral will improve your blood sugar immediately — and a new study conducted in Brazil on patients with Type 2 diabetes just proved it.
Researchers found that patients who got more magnesium had lower blood sugar levels after meals. Here’s why…
Your body’s capacity to produce insulin relies heavily on magnesium, which activates the insulin receptors on your muscles and cells. And there’s more…
A major study conducted by Harvard Medical School followed 85,000 women for 18 years and found that individuals who consumed the most magnesium lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 30 percent.
One of my favorite beans is fava. It has a buttery, nutty flavor that is unique and unusual. Try our Fava Bean Soup with Spicy Greens. And if you’re in the mood for French comfort food, curl up with our Chicken and White Bean Cassoulet. “Medicine” never tastes so good!
Onions are one of the top food sources for the trace mineral chromium, which produces a powerful benefit on blood glucose levels. Research shows that chromium helps your body use insulin more efficiently, maintains steady blood sugar levels, and reduces the need for diabetes drugs.
Chromium deficiency and diabetes often accompany each other, according to a study published in Diabetes Care. This isn’t a surprising when you realize that the symptoms of chromium deficiency (such as out-of-control levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and high cholesterol) resemble those of prediabetes.
A recent study published in Biochemistry shows that chromium is an insulin potentiator, meaning that it makes your insulin more effective. For people with insulin resistance or full-blown diabetes, this is a big benefit because chromium lessens your need for your body’s own insulin (or your insulin dose) to normalize your blood sugar levels.
One cup of raw onion (about ½ cup cooked onion) gives you 24mcg of the government’s “adequate intake” recommendation of 25 — 35mcg of chromium. So sauté up a big batch of onions, add some garlic and herbs, and throw them on salads, toss them in soups and fritattas, and use them to smother a juicy, grass-fed burger.
I’m especially fond of the Onion Tomato Relish we created in our Test Kitchen, which goes swimmingly with most savory meals!
These little diabetes-busters are bursting with healthy fats, vitamins, and lots of minerals. If you’re prediabetic, or want to avoid Type 2, eating nuts will cut down your risk. If you already have diabetes, nuts help you manage your blood sugar and weight.
Almonds are particularly beneficial because they’re high in protein and antioxidants, and have a low glycemic index (GI). According to a study published in Metabolism, eating almonds with a meal reduces the GI load of the entire meal!
Nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which reverse insulin resistance. And remember the diabetes-heart disease connection? Nuts are another weapon in your heart-healthy arsenal, as studies show that daily consumption of nuts cuts the risk of heart attack by 35%.
In another study, women who ate peanut butter more than five times a week were 20% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. BONUS: None of the women who ate nuts had any significant change in their weight. In fact, those who ate the most nuts tended to weigh a little less!
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that those who ate almonds as part of a low-calorie diet for 6 months reduced their need for diabetes medication.
Try a small handful of unsalted nuts as a midday snack. Just be conservative. Author Tim Ferris in his new book, The Four-Hour Body, describes nuts as a “domino food” because eating a few easily leads to munching a bunch of these high-calories treats.
Another option: Spread almond or peanut butter on raw celery sticks or apple slices for a hunger-quashing snack.
Now it’s your turn
Do you have any favorite diabetes-healing foods or recipes you’d like to share? Please do so here — we’d love give them a try.
If you’d like to see more healing foods, our ebook, Diabetes Healing Superfoods, is on sale for $19.00, reduced from $29.95. Plus, we’ll give you our ebook The Diabetes Devil Foods, describing the worst foods for diabetics and prediabetics, free. Click our secure shopping cart to order.