“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” - Ayurvedic Proverb
One of our own probers here at One Drop is “it’s carbs.”
It’s something we live by; something we see the direct results from when we eat our foods and snacks, and then see the corresponding blood sugar. We know -- as people living with diabetes -- that carbohydrates directly impact our blood sugars and, therefore, our overall wellbeing.
But there’s more to it than just carbohydrates and blood sugar.
The foods we put into our bodies (whether high carb, low carb, nutrient-dense, or nutrient-null) directly and indirectly impact every bit of us human beings, right down to our every cell.
And while high blood sugars from food can certainly result in diabetic-related complications, the food we eat can similarly result in all sorts of complications, like cardiovascular disease (or, heart disease).
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and other risk factors contribute to increasing the risk of all heart complications.
It is supremely easy to think that a pill can magically make us better. And with something like heart disease, for example, it seems simple enough to pop that pill that your doctor said would heal all.
But what if pills -- medicine, as we think of it in the 21st century -- are not the (end-all, be-all) answer? What if a very possible, probable answer, instead, can be found in diet? What if diet is medicine? What if diet is used not only as medicine to heal, but as an initial, preventative measure so that there is no need for healing?
The Cure To The #1 Killer Is Diet
A landmark study was published in 1998 that changed the narrative on food as medicine.
In short, the Lifestyle Heart Trial demonstrated that the cure to the #1 killer in the United States, heart disease, was diet. It was that simple. The results of the study showed that intensive lifestyle changes (diet) may lead to regression of coronary atherosclerosis after 1 year; that heart disease could be completely reversed through eating natural foods.
That’s a major and astounding result.
It’s also not the only one like it.
In previous studies, doctors in Sub-Saharan Africa found that many of the US’s major and most common disease, including heart disease, were virtually non-existent there. The doctors then looked at the local diet, which was composed almost entirely of vegetables, plants, and greens:
“The staple foods, green plantain and sweet potatoes, are steamed in banana leaves; cassava, yams, maize, and millet are also staple commodities in particular of the non-Baganda groups, while pumpkins, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables are taken by all… Most meals are served with a sauce made of groundnuts, beans, and a mixture of vegetables, and occasionally meat or fish, and these are fried in very small amounts of fat. The difference between the diets of the moderately well-off and the rich seems to reside in the quantity and quality of the sauces rather than in the quantities of the staple food.”
Their diets were completely comprised of all-natural foods, sourced from all-natural ingredients found nearby. These people were living well (without health complications) and living long because of the food they consumed.
Meanwhile in the US, the majority of us begin a downward spiral into atherosclerosis (a hardening and narrowing of the arteries) in childhood. By age 10, most children eating the standard American diet already have these fatty streaks already building up in the arteries. Eventually, these fatty steaks lead to all sorts of complications, like stroke.
The difference in these two populations? Diet, among other things.
But mostly, diet.
Can We Prevent Heart Disease From Happening In The First Place?
In 2014, another bombshell study came out regarding CAD (coronary artery disease). People were able to reverse their CAD entirely by eliminating artery-clogging foods (processed, high carb, high carb in conjunction with high fat foods) from their diet.
The results were astonishing: without any drugs or any surgeries, the body started to dissolve away all the plaque that had been built up in the arteries over decades.
Following just 3 weeks of plant-based nutrition, normal blood flow was restored. Not only did this way of eating reverse plaque build-up, it cured it entirely, suggesting the body was ready and able to completely heal on its own.
This study proves just how important diet truly is -- that diet (or, a way of eating) treats the underlying cause of disease through safer, cheaper, and more beneficial outcomes.
What is this magical way of eating (WOE)? Plant-based, all-natural foods. This literally translates to:
Lots and lots greens (like arugula, collard greens, kale, and spinach), cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts), even more vegetables (like carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes), nuts and seeds (like almonds, chia seeds, pecans, and flax seeds), healthy fats and proteins (like fresh fish, eggs, and chicken), and fruit (blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries).
You’ve heard it all before. But it is always worth repeating.
What Does Plant-Based Mean?
"Plant-based" seems to have gotten a bad rap (or been very misunderstood). A diet based in plants is just that: a way of eating -- a lifestyle -- that uses plants (greens, vegetables that sprout from the earth 🌱) as its basis.
Plant-based does not mean "no meat," "no dairy," or "tofu only."
It simply means that your daily food intake should be based in plants, aka vegetables.
If you can't get your daily nutritional intake of the proper nutrients (this varies person to person to person), then you should add on the tofu or top your salad with that roasted chicken breast.
It also means steering clear of foods that come pre-wrapped and labeled. Also known as: processed foods. Of course, there are times (plenty!) when you need a grab-n-go snack, especially in this day and age.
But whenever possible, skip the labels. Avoid foods in a box, package, or can. Always opt for the stuff that comes straight from the good, green earth.
Another way to think of it: if it came from the earth or a farmer’s field, and not a lab or food plant, then it is safe to eat.
It is truly as simple as that.
Food for Thought
These foods are not only sources of energy, they are preventative measures against every major chronic illness out there.
This way of eating is proven to reverse heart disease, the #1 killer of men and women globally. It’s also been proven to reverse complications of type 2 diabetes (the 9th leading cause of death in 2017), which can lead to heart disease.
Poor diet continues to be defined as the number one contributor to deaths worldwide; one of the most recent reports linked it to 11 million of the world's deaths:
“In summary, we found that poor dietary habits are associated with a range of chronic diseases and can potentially be a major contributor to non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality in all countries worldwide.”
For those of us already living with diabetes -- type 1 and type 2 -- we are already at-risk of diabetes-related complications. If we choose to change our eating habits to prevent high blood sugars, that reduces (eliminates, even) those diabetes complications and, in effect, heart-related complications, as well.
We must take personal responsibility for our health. We can do it easily, cheaply, and safely through diet.