It was 8 months ago when I decided to reverse my Type 2 Diabetes through diet/exercise and eliminate my diabetes medication. Based on the last 14 months of my life battling Type 2 Diabetes, I am confident that someone who has been recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes can control their blood sugar levels not through medication but through a combination of the Paleo Diet and moderate exercise.
For those new to this blog, let me recount my journey over the past 14 months.
During my annual physical in March 2013 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a month later I was brought under the care of an endocrinologist. Through medicine, slight diet modification and added exercise I was able to bring my blood sugar measurements under control in 4 short months.
But I wanted to get off the diabetes medicine (Janument) because the side effects of that medication were causing my quality of life to suffer and for the simple reason that I didn’t like taking medication if I didn’t have to. Since I made such improvement in 4 months, I felt I could follow further diet modification as well as increase my exercise to get my blood sugar measurements to a normal range without medication.
When I told my endocrinologist this in July he quickly rebuffed me and said that I should get used to taking these 2 pills everyday because my genetic predisposition to Diabetes was too strong. I’m sure most of the endocrinologist’s patients follow his advice without challenging it and are comfortable taking more medication so they don’t have to make hard sacrifices. But that’s not me – I’m not wired that way and I follow the ‘trust but verify’ motto when dealing with ‘experts’ dishing out advice.
So in September 2013 I decided to follow a diet as outline in a research study from Newcastle University that showed people could reverse their Type 2 Diabetes through an intense period of dieting that removes the fat from their pancreas and liver and thereby allowing better insulin production and causing the body to be more receptive to the insulin.
That diet worked in only 1 week for me and I followed that up with a high protein/high fat/low carbohydrate diet to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Over the past 8 months I have slowly migrated to a diet that follows the Paleo diet very closely – High protein, High fat and very low Carbs – and that has continued to allow me to eat satisfying meals and maintain blood sugar levels that are considered normal for a non-diabetic.
I eat about 125g of protein and 125g of fat every day but limit my carbs to around 30g per day and all of these carbs come entirely from vegetables, nuts and fruit. I don’t eat bread, rice, grits, pasta or anything that is derived from a grain and I also eliminated starchy vegetables like potatoes.
That brings you up to the point where I had my annual physical last week with my primary care physician and I’ll discuss a couple of the test results I received from that visit.
The gold standard of blood sugar measurements is called the A1c. A normal person who does not have Diabetes will measure between 4% and 6%, a Diabetic who is controlling their blood sugar with medication will measure between 6% and 8% and anything above 8% represents extremely high blood sugar levels.
Here are the last 4 A1c measurements I have had in the past 14 months.
March 2013 (11.5%) – This measurement happened when I was initially diagnosed and shows how serious my Type 2 Diabetes was (rarely are measurements of greater than 12% published on A1c tables so I was close to the max). I was destroying my body with every meal I ate and in reality I had probably been walking around with these severely high blood sugar levels for a couple of years.
July 2013 (5.6%) – This measurement happened after 4 months on medication and altering my diet some and adding in a little bit of exercise. As I stated above, my endocrinologist declared ‘victory’ with this test result and said I should continue with the meds for the rest of my life.
January 2014 (5.1%) – This measurement happened 4 months after I had stopped taking my Diabetes medication and the results spoke for themselves. A combination of the Paleo diet and moderate exercise caused my blood sugar measurements to be in the middle of the normal range for someone without Diabetes! And by ‘moderate exercise’ I mean I ran or rode my bike 3 times a week and mixed in a few days of weight lifting. The endocrinologist dismissed me from his care at that point since my blood sugar measurements were normal and I didn’t need him to write prescriptions for me.
May 2014 (5.7%) – This measurement happened during my annual physical with my primary care physician last week. It was higher than in January but during the 2 weeks prior to the blood test I had been fighting a chest cold and blood sugar measurements are elevated during illness so this could have attributed to the slight increase. But the measurement is still in the normal range for someone without Diabetes.
During my recent annual physical I was of course interested in my A1c but there was another test that I was curious about and that was my cholesterol. I’ve been eating a high amount of fat every day for the past 8 months (easily twice the amount recommended by the Health and Human Services) and my cholesterol reading was at the high range of normal in 2013 (198) so I was anxious to see if the Paleo diet had an adverse effect on that. For those interested, my daily fat intake comes from meat (including bacon almost every day!), eggs (I eat about 18 per week), avocados and nuts.
To my surprise, my cholesterol reading was lower this year (181) and my ratio of bad cholesterol (LDL) to good cholesterol (HDL) was within the normal range – I measured 2.9 and the normal range is 0.0 to 3.5.
I am still learning about how to live with Type 2 Diabetes and also about the benefits of a Paleo style diet/lifestyle so I’m by no means declaring my expertise on the topic but I am starting to believe that we in the Western World have been fed lies regarding the dangers of saturated fat.
I am becoming convinced that the combination of a Paleo style diet paired with moderate exercise can reverse the symptoms of a recently diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic and my belief in that goes beyond my research into the scientific literature – I’m living proof!