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December 2, 2008

Vegan is a
Diabetes Cure?

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Turns out being a vegan might be a safe alternative to taking diabetes meds. Just great. Looks like granola-lovin’, tree-huggers were right . . .again. Who’s going to apologize this time? (It’s not our turn—we did it when global warming turned out to be real.)


The research is from the files of Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (and adjunct prof at GWU). It shows the vegan diet beats the hemp pants off others when it comes to diabetes. He says their “randomized clinical study shows that both a low-fat vegan diet, and a diet based on ADA guidelines, improves glycemic and lipid control in people with type 2 diabetes.” That is, a plant-based diet improves the body’s sensitivity to its own insulin.


The prolific author/doc can’t keep his hands off the keyboard. He’s written several books, and does a monthly column for Vegetarian Times. Switching to a vegan diet, he insists, can be painless, so “doctors shouldn’t be so quick to pull out the prescription pad.” But don’t throw away the needles just yet. “It won’t eliminate the need for medication for everyone.” Plus, few patients are ready to dive right in without question. So take the vegan diet for a test drive. Try it for just three weeks. Exercise, despite the hype, is not mandatory, and lots of obese people obviously find exercise very difficult, says Neal. A little exercise, for them, can be a lot.


To save gas, Neal tools around Northwest on his electric scooter. Ironically, he grew up in the steak lovin’ Midwest. (Just try to find hummus in Fargo.) Neal adds that his father, Donald Barnard, a cattleman-turned physician, spent his life treating diabetes. Neal’s carrying the torch and aiming to shed more light on the subject, talking about it in his latest book, Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.

Jacqueline Duda wrote this piece for Bisnow. But you’re still generally stuck with Curtis, so send him your story ideas: Curtis@Bisnow.com

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