Diabetes Treatment – Food as Medicine

By Dana Garcia, B.A. Kinesiology, B.Ed., OCT, NCC

Research is showing that Type 2 diabetes (adult onset) can be controlled with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Physical inactivity, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high insulin, high glucose and high A1C increases your risk of developing diabetes. Doctors are not trained in diet and lifestyle interventions and only offer patients medications to regulate their insulin and blood sugar levels.

A whole foods plant-based diet has been proven to be effective for preventing and treating diabetes through balancing blood sugar and insulin. This diet includes unrefined carbohydrates, unsaturated fat and plant protein. Plant foods improve insulin sensitivity and lower insulin resistance by promoting a healthy body weight, increasing fiber and phytonutrients. Fibre and low-glycemic carbohydrates slow the absorption of sugar into the blood without causing a spike in blood sugar. 1

Healthy whole foods plant sources of carbohydrates (legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits) are a vital part of a healthy sustainable diet. These carbohydrates should not be avoided when managing diabetes, instead the focus should be on repairing how the body absorbs and uses them to make energy. An anti-inflammatory diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients allows the body to regain insulin sensitivity and properly manage blood sugar. When the cells become sensitive to insulin again they can take in sugar from the blood more effectively instead of storing it as body fat.

Type 2 diabetes is a diet-induced disease that need not exist. Insulin lowering drugs and synthetic insulin injections should be a last resort for managing diabetes. Top experts in preventing and reversing diabetes have demonstrated that a whole foods plant-based diet is powerful for reducing inflammation and managing blood sugar.

Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Barnard reported on the results of a randomized clinical trial comparing a whole foods plant-based diet to the American Diabetes Association guidelines. Diabetics on the plant-based diet reduced their HbA1C levels by 1.23 points, compared with 0.38 points for the people on the American Diabetes Association diet. In addition, 43% of people on the plant-based diet reduced their medication, compared with 26% of those on the American Diabetes Association diet. 2

Dietician Brenda Davis

Brenda Davis had great success with reversing Diabetes during a research study at the Marshall Islands in Hawaii where 50% of people over 35 years and 28% of people 15-35 years old had type 2 diabetes caused by their diet of processed foods, sugar, flour and animal products. Sixty years ago, diabetes did not exist as the population was slim, active and ate whole foods. After only a month, the group who followed a whole foods plant-based diet had dramatic health improvements. Most participants lost weight, achieved normal blood sugar levels and discontinued their need for medication. 3

Adventist Health Studies

These long-term studies showed that vegetarians have about 50% less risk of developing diabetes compared to nonvegetarians. It was reported that nonvegetarians were 74% more likely to develop diabetes over a 17-year period than vegetarians. 4

Dietary Guidelines

  • Whole Plant-Based Foods (legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds)
  • High Fibre (minimum 50g)
  • Low Glycemic Carbohydrates (root vegetables, whole grains, berries)
  • Low Fat (25%)
  • No Processed Foods or Animal Products


  • Weight Loss (lower insulin leads to less fat storage & high fibre increases satiety preventing overeating)
  • Balanced Blood Sugar (low glycemic carbs & fibre slow absorption of sugar into blood)
  • Insulin Sensitivity (antioxidants and nutrients lower inflammation allowing insulin to work properly)
  • Reduce or eliminate medication


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28630614
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138638/
  3. http://www.brendadavisrd.com/defeating-type-2-diabetes
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/


This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, supplements, exercise or other health program. We are not responsible for any adverse effects resulting from your use of any information provided.