May 7th, 2007
After spending a combined total of 20 of the last 72 hours on an airplane (or at the airport), I’ve had some time to catch up on some reading. While not all of it was veg related, I was able to pick out a few good topics to write about this week for the site. A couple of stories on Type-2 diabetes and how vegetarian and vegan diets can help reduce this disease caught my attention for a couple of reasons…. With such an epidemic of obesity and diet related problems occurring in adults and children throughout the Western world, I thought this topic would be good to focus on this week. In addition, diabetes personally hits close to home for me, as my father was diagnosed with it about two years ago, and I believe, he is starting to feel its effects. Simple colds and ‘bugs’ are hanging around a lot longer than they did before he was diagnosed, and I fear that the symptoms are only going to get worse if he doesn’t change the way he eats and starts an exercise program.
Reliance on diabetes medication is widespread and unfortunately, it seems that many people use the medication as a substitute for changing their lives with a good diet and proper exercise. The ‘magic’ pills initially helps to stabilize blood sugar, but diabetics quickly become dependent on it, and the pills eventually loses their effect. These pills are essentially the gateway drugs into more potent concoctions of medicines and insulin, but, in many cases, type-2 Diabetes is preventable and manageable if current and potential patients will turn over a new leaf and modify their diets and lifestyle.
Recently, a study was done that demonstrated that a low-fat vegan diet based on
Researchers have found that a low-fat vegan diet may help type 2 diabetes patients to better manage their disease. In a study published in DiabetesCare, 43% of people with type 2 diabetes who followed a low-fat vegan diet for 22 weeks reduced the need to take diabetes medications. That’s compared to only 26% who adhered to the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
On average, the vegan group also lost more weight and lowered levels of bad cholesterol. Because people with diabetes are more prone to heart disease, eating with heart health in mind matters as much as blood sugar control.
So…why don’t people diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes immediately change their lifestyles after leaving their doctor’s office? Whether it is going vegetarian one day a week or full-time or cutting out the fast food, it seems like a lifestyle change should be the real “silver bullet” first step for anyone diagnosed. But as we know, the answer is never that simple, and change takes education, dedication and vigilance. I also think that things like initial denial and an unwillingness to break old habits leads to a complacency that is satisfied by the medicine alone. In truth, it is more than likely a healthy combination of diet, exercise and medical care are needed to manage this disease.
To bring this back to wannaveg and the mission I have set out to accomplish, I believe that vegetarian lifestyles (even once or twice a week) may still be viewed by some as a counterculture lifestyle (e.g. dirty hippies) instead of what we are- a group of people interested in healthy living that also appreciate the many peripherally benefits to the diet. From global warming to diabetes, heart disease and weight management, it is my hope that studies like this, recent articles and more websites like wannaveg will bring to light that change is not impossible and that the benefits can be dramatic and life changing!