Diabetes: Treatments

Is there a treatment for type II diabetes?

According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (2017a) individuals have the ability to manage type II diabetes by healthy eating, physical activity, and testing blood glucose levels. According to a position paper by the American Diabetes Association on the standards of care for patients with diabetes mellitus (2002), “the ideal goal of treatment is the normalization of blood glucose and A1C values” (p. 14).

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Can dietary changes improve diabetes?

Yes, improvements in both diet and lifestyle improve outcomes for individuals with prediabetes and diabetes. To improve diabetes outcomes, a change in diet is recommended. For those suffering from prediabetes and type II diabetes, eliminating the consumption of high fat animal-based foods can decrease the risk of developing type II diabetes. Changes in diet can help alleviate symptoms of both prediabetes and type II diabetes. The dietary change recommended for all patients is a whole foods plant-based diet.



The foods recommended consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and a few nuts and seeds as well as a vitamin B-12 supplement. The consumption of meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, seafood, fish, and oils or processed foods containing oils is not encouraged due to these foods containing large amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.



When following a plant-based diet be sure to keep the total calories from fat under 20% of total calories (a good goal is to keep calories from fat less than 10 to 15%). Also, be sure to inform your physician that you are changing your diet as making dietary changes can affect the amount of insulin medication required and results can happen quickly once following a plant-based diet.


Houston Cardiologist Has Amazing Success Treating Type 2 Diabetes with Nutrition.

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Can type II diabetes be reversed?

According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (2017), “there isn’t a cure yet for diabetes” (para. 4). However, some researchers have noted and shown that motivated individuals can reverse their type II diabetes and they believe “diabetes reversal should be a goal in the management of type II diabetes” (Steven, Lim, and Taylor, 2013, p. 135).

Eating you Alive – Marc Ramirez


As Taylor (2013) noted, since diabetes is a disease of excess fat on our body, in our muscles and on our organs, removing the fat from our organs can reverse diabetes (p. 267). Taylor (2013) concluded that “these self-reinforcing cycles between liver and pancreas eventually cause metabolic inhibition of insulin secretion after meals and onset of hyperglycemia. It is now clear that type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition of intra-organ fat excess to which some people are more susceptible than others” (p. 267).


According to Yafi & Collins (2015), in the case of the three year old girl who was diagnosed with diabetes, she was provided a diet and exercise routine and placed on medication and within 6 months she no longer needed diabetes medication. Her conditioned was reversed due to normal blood glucose numbers through the adoption of both lifestyle modifications and healthy eating habits (pp. 152-153). While lifestyle intervention can be powerful, some individuals following a whole foods plant-based diet may not be able to fully reverse diabetes, however the disease may be better managed. Making dietary changes along with light to moderate walking can help prevent and possibly reverse type II diabetes in motivated individuals. Anyone changing their dietary habits should consult with their physician before making any dietary changes and speak with their health care provider about the medications they are taking to manage their disease.


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In lieu of changing diet, is intensive insulin therapy good for those with type II diabetes?

In past years, intensive insulin therapy was recognized as a way to reduce circulating blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) felt strongly about the potential therapeutic effect this treatment could have on potentially limiting the risk of cardiovascular events. According to the ADA (2002), “Prospective randomized clinical trials have shown that achieving glycemic control is associated with decreased rates of retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy, and epidemiological studies support the potential of intensive glycemic control in the reduction of cardiovascular disease” (2002, p. 215).

Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Reversed?

However, intensive therapy of patients with type II diabetes may not have advantages. According to Gustafsson et al., (2000) “diabetic patients treated with oral hypoglycemic agents or insulin, but not those treated with diet alone, have a significantly increased mortality following acute myocardial infarction compared with non-diabetic patients”(p. 1937). The ACCORD Trial (2008), or “the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial was specifically designed to determine the therapeutic strategy targeting normal glycated hemoglobin levels” however the trial stopped “17 months before the scheduled end of the study” due to “the effects of the intensive intervention on mortality and the primary composite outcome of major cardiovascular events in all patients and in prespecified subgroups” (p. 2546). The ACCORD Trial (2008) researchers concluded “these findings identify a previously unrecognized harm of intensive glucose lowering in high-risk patients with type 2 diabetes” (p. 2545).

Eating you Alive – Dr. Joel Fuhrman

A meta-analysis of 13 studies conducted by Boussageon et al. (2011) concluded there is “limited benefit of intensive glucose lowering treatment on all cause mortality and deaths from cardiovascular causes” they further concluded “the benefit:risk ratio of intensive glucose lowering treatment in the prevention of macrovacascular and microvascular events remains uncertain” (pp. 1-2).

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Are whole foods plant-based diet becoming common in preventing and reversing diabetes?

A whole foods plant based diet may be best for individuals with type II diabetes according to Rinaldi, Campbell, Fournier, O’Connor, & Madill, (2016) who concluded that “the Canadian Diabetes Association has included plant based diets among the recommended dietary patterns to be used in medical nutrition therapy for persons with type 2 diabetes” (para. 1). Other medical organizations have also recognized plant-based diets as an effective treatment for individuals with type II diabetes. According to Tuso, Ismail, Ha, & Bartolotto (2013), “plant-based diets may offer an advantage over those that are not plant based with respect to prevention and management of diabetes” (p. 62). However, the recommendations of Tuso et al., (2013) even encourage physicians to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity” (p. 61). More recently the American Diabetes Association (2017), in their 2017 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes recognized plant-based diets as an effective management strategy for those with type II diabetes.

Below is a clip from the movie “What the Health”.  What The Health – Heated Interview with Robert Ratner the Chief Office of the ADA.

Some scientists and researchers are aware that the accumulation of fat is the primary cause of type II Diabetes. In the case of type II diabetes it is the type of fat, saturated, and trans fat, which cause the most significant problems (Estadella et al., 2013, p. 1; Lichenstein & Schwab, 2000, p. 227). In the food supply these fats are found in meat and dairy products as well as oils (Estadella et al., 2013; FDA, 2015). A whole foods plant based diet encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, and legumes along with nuts and seeds. The diet does not encourage and in fact discourages the consumption of meat and dairy products as well as oils. The diet, in essence, discourages the consumption of products which are shown to increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Taking a step back and looking at a general overview of the issue with type II diabetes, it appears that excess fat in the diet leads to excess fat in the muscles, which leads to excess fat on the body, which leads to excess fat on the internal organs, which leads to the development of type II diabetes. Therefore, removing fat from the diet, especially saturated and trans fats found in animal products, processed foods, and oils, should be the primary focus of diabetes prevention and reversal, in conjunction with a small amount of physical activity like walking or biking. As John McDougall says in regards to our nation’s most chronic diseases, “It’s the food” (McDougall, 2016).


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What to do now

limit the amount of refined grains, processed foods, and fat within your diet. Start to decrease or eliminate all animal based foods in your diet. For the best results eliminate all animal-based foods from the diet. While eliminating all animal based foods can be challenging, it is recommended to find animal-based substitutes as transitional foods should you find the transition difficult. A diet containing no animal products and less than a total of 15% of total calories coming from fat has been shown to provide benefits for preventing, reversing, and better managing type II diabetes. Most plant-based diets contain less than 15% of total calories coming from fat.

The literature shows the powerful effects diet has on type II Diabetes, mainly the macronutrient components within animal-based foods such as saturated fat, and trans fats, but also the saturated fats and trans fats found in refined plant-based foods. Improving the everyday dietary patterns is the main focus of improving health outcomes, especially for those with type II Diabetes. While medication is helpful in reducing the level of circulating blood sugar it does not treat the cause of the disease. Therefore changing lifestyle patterns and daily dietary habits may have the greatest impact on the progression of type II diabetes. While medication is a tool the physician can use, the high animal fats (saturated and trans fats, along with other processed foods containing oils, and partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated oils) are the main contributors to type II Diabetes.

Knowing what foods to avoid and knowing what foods contribute to the cause and development of type II diabetes allows you to make informed decisions about what foods you should eat to avoid developing type II diabetes.

Foods to avoid: all animal-based foods, tropical oils, and processed oils within processed foods, and highly processed foods containing excessive amounts of sugar.

Foods to consume: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, limited amounts of nuts and seeds.

The power to control the progression of type II diabetes and its potential reversal is within your control. Knowing that you have control over the disease and knowing how the disease progresses is such a valuable lesson that many are unaware of. Good health is something everyone has the ability to attain. Being more conscious of how our daily habits impact our overall health starts by changing what is on the end of our fork and spoon.

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Next Steps

Be sure to check out how to read a food label, for a quick overview on how to find heart healthy products within the grocery store. Don’t forget to print off a guide on how to read a food label

Look for the printable shopping list to get you started in the grocery store.

For those wanting to lose weight look at the calorie density portion of our website. There are also calorie density charts available to print as well.

For those who want to know what a whole foods plant-based diet meal plate looks like view and/or download the food guide pyramid and food plate

Check out the learn more section to find books, movies, and websites to help make the transition to a whole foods plant based diet easier.

Refer to the Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet Handout for a suggested 3day meal plan and other resources

Visit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 21-DAY KICK START which provides 21 days worth of meal plans to make the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet easier. http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome

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