Home » Tackling Diabetes With a Bold New Dietary Approach by Neal Barnard (Full Transcript)

Tackling Diabetes With a Bold New Dietary Approach by Neal Barnard (Full Transcript)

And the second discovery came from looking inside the cell, especially the muscle cell. And the reason we look at muscle cells in particular is that’s where glucose is going, that’s where blood sugar is going, that’s the fuel that powers your movement.

Do you know about a person who’s running a marathon? What are they doing in the weeks leading up for it? They’re carbo-loading. So they’re eating pasta, they’re eating bread to try to get that glucose into the cell for energy. And that is the problem in diabetes, because glucose, glucose is there, outside the cell, trying to get inside. In order to get in, it needs a key. And that key is insulin.

Now, what if I get home, and I’m getting up to my front door and I take my key out of my pocket, I put it in the front door — Wait a minute, it’s not working. And there’s nothing wrong with my key, but I look in the lock, and while I was gone, somebody put chewing gum in my lock. So what am I going to do? Crawling in and out the window? No. I’m going to clean out the lock.

Well, when a person has diabetes, their insulin key is not working. Why would that be? Why could insulin not signal? What supposed to happen is the glucose is supposed to enter into the cell. And glucose is the key that makes that happen. But the reason it doesn’t happen it’s not that there’s chewing gum inside the cell. What there is is fat. Fat, little globules of fat.

Now I have to say, doctors hate words like “fat”, it’s got one syllable. So we want to call it intramyocellular lipid. ‘Intra’ means’ inside’, ‘myo’ means ‘muscle’, ‘cellular’ means ‘cellular’, ‘lipid’ means ‘fat’. Intramyocellular lipid is fat inside your muscle cells, and that is what interferes with insulin’s ability to work like a key to signal glucose coming in.

In 2003, The National Institute of Health gave my research team a grant and said, “Let’s test something completely different. Instead of limiting breads and all these kinds of things, what if – if fat is the issue, what if we have a diet that has effectively no fat in it?”

Well, where does fat come from? It comes from two sources: animal products, animal fat, and vegetable oils. So we brought in 99 people, and we asked them to do two things: to really eat a bounty of food and not worrying about quantity, we’re not counting calories here, we’re not counting carb grams or anything like that. What we’re doing instead is we’re setting the animal products aside keeping the vegetable oils low. Very simple.

Now one of our participants was a man named Vance, and Vance’s father was dead by age 30. Vance was 31 when he was diagnosed with diabetes, he was in his late 30s when he came to see us. And he said, “This is not hard!” Unlike every other diet he’d been on, we didn’t care how many carbs he ate, or how many calories, or how many portions. If he was having chilli, not a meat chilli, would be a bean chilli, chunky vegetable chilli. If he was having spaghetti, instead of a meat topping, it would be topped with artichoke hearts and wild mushrooms, and chunky tomato sauce. So that kind of thing; very, very easy.

Over the course of about a year, he lost 60 pounds, his blood sugar came down and down, and down, and one day his doctor sat him down and said, “Vance, I know you’ve had family members die of this disease.” But he said, “I look at your blood tests; you don’t have it anymore.”

And can you imagine what that feels like to have family members who felt there’s this absolutely one way street and have this disease just turn around? And when I asked Vance’s permission to tell you about his story, he said, “Make sure you tell everybody that my erectile dysfunction went away too.” Write that down.

So, we published our findings in peer-reviewed journals, the American Diabetes Association now cites it and accepts this as an effective approach. And people around the world started using this and I heard from a man in England, who wanted to let me know about his experience. He had had diabetes, tried all kinds of diets without a lot of success. And then he heard about our approach, tried it for several weeks, went to the doctor, the doctor drew a number of blood tests. And he got home. The phone rang, “This is the doctor’s office. Could you come back right now?

So he goes, “Good heavens! What’s in my blood test?” And he races into his car, he’s driving to doctor’s office thinking what disease did they discover on my blood test, what did they find …” And he runs into. They say, “We need you to sit down. Explain exactly what you’ve been doing.”

All traces of his diabetes were gone. The doctor said, “Your blood tests are better than mine, and I don’t have diabetes, how is this possible?”

The doctor explained to him, “We can never say a person has been cured of diabetes because we all know that’s not possible, but technically, it’s not there.”

And the doctor was skeptical, he said, “Come back in two months, I want to test you again.”

Never came back.

Now, wait a minute. Diabetes is genetic, right? It runs in families. And there, in fact, are genes for diabetes, but this is an important thing to remember, genes are in two categories. Certain genes are dictators, I’m talking about the genes that say, ‘blue eyes’ or ‘brown hair’. They are dictators, they give orders, you can’t argue. But the genes for diabetes are committees. They’re making suggestions. And you can say, “Wait a minute, I don’t really think I want to have diabetes.” And, in fact, most disease genes, whether it’s for heart disease, or diabetes, or hypertension, certain forms of cancer, even Alzheimer’s disease, they’re not dictators, they’re committees. And their activity depends on what we put into our bodies.

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