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October 14th, 2011
09:03 PM ET

What's healthy eating for a diabetic?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Asked by Marci in Montana
Being a type 2 diabetic, I have too many different ideas coming at me. Do you have any advice on what diet to follow?

Expert answer

Hi, Marci,

You are definitely not alone when it comes to this issue. Approximately 25.8 million Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes (almost a third do not even know that they have the disease), and 79 million more have pre-diabetes.

With all the often conflicting diet information out there, it's challenging to figure out what to eat. While there is no single diet that works well for everyone, including those with diabetes, there are several things that can help keep your blood sugar under control and could help shrink your waistline (excess belly fat is big risk factor for diabetes).

Your overall diet pattern (this is the term most experts agree upon rather than focusing on specific macronutrient percentages) should be high in fiber and contain plenty of (whole) fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of healthy fat, lean and plant-based protein and whole grains.

Here are several more specific suggestions:

1. Boost magnesium intake.

Magnesium is essential for proper carbohydrate metabolism, and many Americans are not getting enough. Low levels have been associated with poor blood sugar control in diabetics. The recommended daily intake is 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men.

Top food sources include fish (halibut, mackerel, flounder, sole); nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds); dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, swiss chard); wheat germ; beans; oatmeal; baked potatoes with the skin; tofu; avocado and yogurt. Supplements are not necessary for most and should be taken only under a doctor's supervision.

2. Up your D.

Yet another reason to get plenty of vitamin D (in addition to better bone health, improved immune function and a potential decreased risk of certain types of cancer): Research suggests an association between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D appears to protect the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, thereby reducing your risk of diabetes (diabetics either don't produce adequate insulin or are resistant to its effects). The latest guidelines recommend 600 IU of vitamin D until the age of 50 and 800 IU for those age 50 and above. Many experts (including myself) recommend slightly higher doses. You may want to have your blood levels checked by your doctor to determine your optimal dose.

3. Go green.

I'm not talking about recycling (although that is great too), I'm referring to eating plenty of green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens and romaine lettuce, to name a few.

A study in the British Medical Journal last year showed that those who ate the most greens, about 1½ servings per day, where 14% less likely to become diabetic than those who ate the least.

Green leafy vegetables are loaded with antioxidants including beta carotene and vitamin C, disease-fighting phytonutrients and vitamin K, which may also decrease your risk of diabetes. They are also high in volume and low in calories, so they can help you fill up and trim down.

4. Limit sugary drinks.

Sugar-sweetened beverages (including sodas, fruit punches, lemonades and fruit drinks) can increase your risk of diabetes by up to 25%, and the risk remains significant even if you are not overweight.

An even more disturbing recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed an increase in fasting blood sugar after just three weeks in healthy young men consuming small to moderate amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages. Liquids are also much less filling than solids, so they can contribute to weight gain (or prevent weight loss), which can significantly increase your risk of diabetes.

5. Pump iron.

Resistance training (with weights, bands or even your own body weight) can have a major impact on type 2 diabetes and obesity. It improves the utilization of glucose at the cellular level, can help improve blood sugar control in diabetics and can significantly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (along with regular aerobic exercise) in those at risk even if you don't lose weight.

Aim for two strength training workouts per week and 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise) for optimal results.

One final thought: As I said earlier, 30% of those with type 2 diabetes don't even know that they have the disease. Take this simple test created by the American Diabetes Association to see if you are at risk and should be tested. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Kelly

    You don't even mention low-carb?

    October 14, 2011 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gager

      You would think they would avise to stay away from foods that require insulin like carbs but they rarely do.

      October 15, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • teresa

      ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......???

      October 17, 2011 at 22:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      I am always amazed when doctors don't take a more aggressive approach to treating type 2 diabetes. Limit sugary drinks? How about don't drink them at all? And while you are at it why not go low carb and focus on lean meats like grilled chicken and fish + leafy green vegetables + some nuts.

      This doctor has has already shown herself to be an ignoramus in her discussion of Paleo....now she shows she has no interest in helping people to actually manage their type 2 diabetes.

      Utter failure.

      October 20, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      It doesn't have to be just low carb, lean meat and veggies. Reducing the portions of natural foods also affects blood sugar readings as well as helping you lose weight if you need to. Different people react to the same things differently. The oatmeal the author mentions for example, produces a much higher blood sugar reading in me than 3 eggs. White bread from the store versus the whole wheat bread I make myself (grind the wheat, don't use any sugar in the breadmaker) is the same story.
      We all have to die somehow, which I would prefer to giving up my favorite diet beverage ( I just get tired of water all the time). Reasonable use of reasonable foods will get you through most of it. Your own reaction to what you eat takes care of the rest. Trust your meter. If you don't have one, get one. There are plenty of free ones out there.

      April 25, 2013 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  2. nick

    Same old conventional "wisdom." Ditch the "whole grains" – they're poison for everyone, particularly diabetics. They substantially increase blood sugar and cause massive cellular damage, resulting in all the of the awful complications of diabetes. Eat a low-carb diet instead rich in meats, eggs, fish, vegetables and moderate fruits and nuts (real nuts, not peanuts).

    October 15, 2011 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JFT

      Thank you, Nick. I can't believe that the same old high carb advice keeps being given by the medical establishment, despite the growing spectre of American obesity and the soaring rates of Diabetes II. People do not need to eat tons of bread and other grain based foods – or any at all. And how about that "limit sugary drinks" nonsense? Someone suffering from Diabetes II should not consume ANY sugary drinks, including the so-called "healthy" juices. Most diabetics shouldn't be drinking artificially sweetened drinks either – the body is fooled by them and reacts as if sugar has been consumed.

      October 15, 2011 at 06:45 | Report abuse |
    • adam

      You might be interested in research by Neal Barnard, who got very good results without doing a "low-carb" diet. Basically, he heavily emphasized a whole-food (read, unrefined) plant based diet, which included things like whole grains and other carbs. 90+% of patients could get off of their diabetic meds. Dr. John McDougall has gotten similar results, even with people eating potatoes regularly.

      October 15, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
    • dabble

      Have to agree on the low carb – even my cardiologist recommends low carb for diabetics (type II here).
      Of course, if you follow everything individually, you'd be low carb for diabetes, low fat for heart health, low protein for kidney health. In other words, you're left with water (but only in moderation)

      October 15, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • willowspring

      There are six relatives in my family with diabetes, two are my children diagnosed in their 40's. I was diagnosed at 70 after an extended prednisone prescription. My aunt, her daughter and a brother all are diabetic. My grandfather died early without a diagnosis, but we feel sure he also had it as he was 5'5" and about 300 lbs and low thyroid. I relate this because every one of us seems to have a different way we must manage our diabetes. I'm the only one on insulin and am within a normal weight range for my age and height and I am active. Some of the others in my family use Metformin. I do as well. I was told to count carbs and told what to eat, which I had been eating all along anyway! I changed VERY little in my diet. No one else was told to count carbs! It is amazing to me that there is so much difference in the way we regulate our diabetes, but whatever the rest are doing seems to work for them and my glucose readings are consistently in the double digits in the A.M. Rarely do I go over into the low 100's. Only one of the diabetics in the family is considerably overweight and that person has a sedentary job but will retire next year with a more active lifestyle planned. I believe that all the differences mentioned in individuals are one reason why diabetes is so hard to control.

      October 16, 2011 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
    • willowspring

      About a year ago I contacted the NIH with a question about including the GI rating in the nutrition information box included on all foods except fresh produce which can be checked in diet books and on the internet. I think it would be infinitely easier for diabetics if the GI (glycemic index) rating or a range of the rating could be part of the information along with the carbs, sodium, iron, sugars, etc. I never received a reply, but I think if diabetics began demanding it, it would eventually happen. It has been said that a diabetic diet is actually good for anyone, so why not provide that bit of essential info? I always read the ingredients and the nutrition box before purchase. I cook "from scratch" and make my own soups, applesauce (very little sugar, if any), tomato sauce and other foods which I freeze, so I know what is in them.

      October 16, 2011 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      I agree with Adam, the whole food, (i.e. unprocessed) plant based diet is the way to go. This is the only diet that allows diabetics to come off insulin. Neal Barnard and Caldwell Esselstyn have both had excellent results from this diet.

      October 16, 2011 at 00:40 | Report abuse |
    • James Morton

      Plant-based diets and low-carb meat diets both work. To cure Type II diabetes, fatty deposits interfering with liver and kidney function need to go. Vegan diets melt that fat via the scarcity of calories in such a diet. Low-carb meat diets help by keeping blood sugar levels very low and inducing ketosis which eats away the fatty deposits.

      October 17, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse |
  3. Ironman77

    You are correct Nick, most nutritionists, dieticians and doctors dealing with diabetes and diets who keep up with modern diabetes research outside the U.S. and abroad in general are definitely telling patients to avoid whole grains as much as possible. My wife takes insulin and most whole grains significantly increase her blood sugar readings. Some people may benefit from a 2 to 1 gram carb to protein ratio when dealing with whole grains. Higher protein bread with lower carbs has helped lower my wife's numbers. The biggest problem with diabetes is everyone is different and it takes patience to find a balance of diet, or treatment through insulin, or a combination of both.

    October 15, 2011 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. darrenozment

    We still need to feed our family healthy, well-balanced meals while keeping to a set budget. Change is the hardest thing and trying to do everything at once will have most people quitting before they even begin. You can get samples from sites like "123 Samples" where you can find all samples

    October 15, 2011 at 05:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Terry

      part 2. I also have bad anxiety, bad stsers, long term depression that started when I was a child. I have hypothyroidism. I have cortisone deficiancy, vit d deficiancy, osteoporosis, and epilepsy,and was wondering if I'm heading for insulin resistance, or diabetes. I am cutting down/out as much sugar and carbs. I'm also excersising more. Will this bring it back to normal? They mentioned possibly puting me on tricor if it doesn't come down but I don't want to get on it. (

      March 5, 2012 at 21:05 | Report abuse |
  5. JFT

    Good Lord, the same old nonsense. Carbs are the enemy – for everyone, but particularly for those people whose carbohydrate laden diet has led to them developing Diabetes II. Stay away from "whole grains" – they're deadly for anyone sensitive to carbs. Nobody with Diabetes II should be consuming ANY "sugary drinks" and should even consider ditching diet drinks, as it has been found that the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin response, even though glucose has not been consumed. When is the medical establishment going to admit that the recommended carb-laden diet they tout is what is causing America's obesity and diabetes problem? Nobody who isn't running marathons or plowing the north forty every day needs to eat all the carbs recommended in the typical "healthy diet" article.

    October 15, 2011 at 06:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Another Diabetic

    JFT said "When is the medical establishment going to admit that the recommended carb-laden diet they tout is what is causing America's obesity and diabetes problem?" Amen, JFT!!

    When I was first diagnosed I tried to follow the ADA recommended diet. It had me eating MORE carbs than I had ever eaten before. Perhaps these carbs are needed by insulin-dependent diabetics to avoid insulin shock. But I soon learned to throw the ADA diet out and eat to keep my glucometer readings where I wanted them. 10 years of low-carb eating has earned me a normal-range HbA1C and no sign of any diabetic complications. When my glucometer readings start creeping up, I eliminate more carbs. I'm down to less than 75 grams of total carbs a day, less than 30 of those starchy.

    October 15, 2011 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willowspring

      Excellent control! Congratulations. When I returned to my normal diet, I was able to get my A1C down to 5.5 and the good doctor lowered my insulin by 5 units. I am stable and have been eating the way I always did, but cut back on the white potatoes ( I grew up on them) which I included in my diet several times a week prior to my diagnosis. The only other change was to use Basmati white rice (when I have rice, not often) instead of plain long grain white. It does not spike the sugar. However, I prefer brown rice with a mixture of other (low GI), brown rices as well. I drink only water and low sodium V8 juice and the occasional glass of tea.

      October 16, 2011 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      The obesity epidemic is a direct result of a diet high in animal products. Cut out all the animal products including dairy and the problems, including diabetes, immediately begin to reverse. Try it and see for yourself.

      October 16, 2011 at 00:57 | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      @ Alan – no, animal fats are not the problem. Factory farmed animals are the problems in what are meat-related illnesses. Our metabolic health issues are not from eating meat.

      Too many carbs are the problem. The human body can get everything it needs from Meats and vegetables. Bodies need fats, NOT carbs. The body is meant to burn fat, that's what overweight folks are trying to do, and it's a major factor, maybe the #1 factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. All carbs do is raise blood sugar. The human body is meant to use fat for fuel, and when you eat fat it burns that fat – when it runs out of that fat, it will burn it's own. Uncontrolled, unlimited carbs make the human body fat and sick. I personally think that people in general need to eat some vegetables for fiber, some vitamins and minerals, but in a person who is overweight and in danger of developing diabetes, limiting carbs to eating mostly non-starchy vegetables is the right way to eat. Believe me, you will get everything you need in your diet.

      We evolved as omnivores, not vegetarians or vegans. Traditionally meat was what we ate the most of. We evolved eating this way, and we are the people we are today because of it. If you don't believe me, do a little research on cave paintings from paleolithic history – they weren't painting pictures of picking berries or pulling up turnips-

      October 16, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      @Ann – Using cave paintings to say we evolved eating meat is a bit weak, how will future generations interpret Dali's work, or Picaso? Maybe hunting was a sport like it is today and had nothing to do with diet and, like in many parts of Africa, is a test of manhood. The animal with intestines which are the closest and practically identical to ours is a gorilla which is 100% raw vegan. The latest research is showing without doubt that animal products are detrimental to our health. A pure plant based diet, preferably raw, is by far the healthiest way to eat.

      October 16, 2011 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      @Alan - Cave paintings are just the most obvious and visible. Perhaps future generations will know that Dali and Picasso were artists because our WRITTEN HISTORY will tell them. Ancient peoples left clues – bones showing the marks of predation found at cooking sites and middens, burial sites with the remnants of sacred foods to assist loved ones into the afterlife, etc., etc. Read up on it.

      Cows are vegetarian, hence they have a four-chambered stomach to help them ferment their way through the digestion process. Most completely vegetarian animals have evolved some way of coping with the issue of a diet so high in cellulose, which is virtually indigestible to humans.

      Saying that we should be vegan because our digestive systems are like that of a gorilla, who eats a vegetarian-only diet is like saying people should drink out of the toilet like dogs do because people and dogs both need water. Sounds kind of stupid, doesn't it?

      We have molars because we evolved grinding vegetable matter, but we also have canines because we evolved eating meat. We evolved beyond the great apes precisely for that reason – we gave our hungry brains plenty of fat and protein. The human brain is made mostly of cholesterol. Where would ancient man have been getting that, I wonder?

      BTW – all primates eat SOME animal fat and protein. Read up on that, too, while you're at it-

      October 17, 2011 at 03:27 | Report abuse |
    • Jay Wortman MD

      If we were meant to be vegan, why must we rely on animal products for vitamin B12? The answer is obvious – we weren't meant to be vegan.

      October 17, 2011 at 19:44 | Report abuse |
  7. dcook140

    Just eat Ghee and Mung beans.. an ayurvedic diet should do it.. ever seen a fat yogi?

    October 15, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Anne

    I am a diabetic and have been for 33 yrs. Ten years ago I ended up going to a diabetic center, and I am still going. I had been told over the years misinformation. One doctor would tell me one thing, while another doctor would tell me something different. If you have diabetes you should be seeing an endorocrinolgist, as they know everything about your body. Primary doctors do not study that much about diabetes in the first place. On my diet I eat 60 carbs at each meal, and each meal should be 4 hours apart. Sure I eat that many carbs, but my meat doesn't count as anything. Although I am limited to 5 ounces of it all day long, that's because too much of it will effect your kidneys. Whole grains, low fat, low sodium. This has worked for me for 10 yrs. now, and my weight is 130 and it very seldom varies. I was diagnosed with both kinds of diabetes, so am insulin dependent.

    October 15, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Bill

    Why is all of the advice micro nutrient oriented. Isn't diabetes a macro nutrient metabolism problem? I see no mention of protien to energy needs at different activity levels. At least in animal nutrietion protien needs decline less thatn total energy as growth and activity decline.

    October 15, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. annie

    I agree with Anne and her comments. I have been a Type for 35 yrs and I learned to count calories and PORTION control and I too have not changed my weight in as many yrs. We had a big chart which I still consult and it shows how much, protein, starch and fruit and veg.'s that you should eat to maintain your weight and sugar levels as per your dietician. There needs to be more education for diabetics (especially Type 2) as I see many of my friends eating cake etc. with no regard for the ultimate consequenses.

    October 15, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. txwtch67

    The reason they are not mentioning low carb is because there's no money in it if we are all healthy. If you look up ways to reduce your triglyceride levels (the lil sludge that builds up in your arteries and causes heart attacks) you will find excersize, weight loss and low carb diet.
    My osteopath (who put me on a low carb diet, red yeast rice and forsskohlii) told me of a conversation he had with an endocrinologist who refused to treat patients who were fat or smokers. He told her yea that's well and good, but if they were healthy they wouldn't be going to the doctors as much in the first place and they would have to take a second job. Follow the money.

    October 15, 2011 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. abby

    low carb, low fat diet and exercise. portion control.

    October 15, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jay Wortman MD

      Low-carb low-fat works only while you are burning off body fat. To be sustainable on low-carb you must add fat back into your diet when weight plateaus.

      October 17, 2011 at 19:47 | Report abuse |
  13. chris

    I highly recommend Dr. Bernstein's book, the Diabetes Solution. After 10 years of being given the wrong advice from my nutritionist and endocrinologist, I started following the books advice a month ago and have gone down from an average of 174 on my blood sugar monitor to 118. In terms of H1Ac that is a drop from 7.7 to 5.8. Pretty amazing stuff. The book is loaded with so much good advice for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics that I highly recommend it to everyone who has diabetes. Check it out.

    October 15, 2011 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. M

    CNN, you are such a joke any more. I don't know why I keep coming here for news. You don't even mention eliminating carbs, the EXACT foods that require insulin? A low carb diet CURES diabetes.

    October 15, 2011 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TYPE2HERE

      ...so does a plant-based, whole foods diet with no animal fat. It worked for me. Slowly, but surely, over the past 4 months, my sugars have continuously dropped by following Dr. Barnard's program. My cholesterol and triglycerides also improved. I should add I'm not on insulin at all. It takes time, but if you are consistent with the plan, it'll work. I enjoy eating beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains like pumpernickel bread (not whole wheat), brown rice, spaghetti, etc. Low-carb isn't the only answer! Educate yourself and find the plan that works for you, as an individual. Success is also measured by how long one can sustain the dietary changes – meaning for a lifetime.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Jay Wortman MD

      Barnard's diet works because it reduces both the amount and the glycemic index of the carbs. A very low carb diet which includes fats and adequate protein will give you those kind of results in days rather than months. It is also sustainable – I have done it for nine years now and take zero meds.

      October 17, 2011 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
  15. Alan

    I think Dr. Melina Jampolis has it right. The main emphasis should be on whole (fresh) fruit and vegetables and especially green leafy vegetables.

    October 16, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Lee

    People don't become diabetic from eating to many carbs. They become diabetic from eating too many calories. Low carbers forget to mention that even on a zero carb diet, blood sugar levels can stay elevated if too much protein is consumed. It's all about moderation and exercise. That is the key for controlling diabetes.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      That's incorrect – blood glucose levels are only elevated by protein in the presence of carbs, as the carbs are more easily converted to be used as energy by the body and the protein serves as an excess energy source. Keeping carbs low has a direct relationship with keeping blood glucose levels low as well.

      October 16, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  17. Ann

    No, it isn't different for everyone – carbs always raise blood sugar. That's how our bodies use them. What's different is that some folks can tolerate that raise in blood sugar better than others, but it still wears on your system, and if we eat the right foods, carbs from grains don't need to be our source of energy and fuel.

    People in general should be on a low-carb diet. Every human body responds to carbs with a raise in blood sugar.

    You can get proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fats from animals. You can get carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber from plants. There really isn't a good reason for humans to eat grains at all, of any kind. There is NO benefit.

    Doctors SHOULD know this – instead of adjusting our medicines according to our blood sugar numbers, we should be reading our numbers and adjusting our diets so that our numbers DON'T GO UP !!!

    And doctors should be the ones who tell you this!!

    October 16, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      Eating animal products comes with a big price to your health. You get everything you need from a plant based diet. If you try it for just 6 weeks you will see what a big benefit it is to your health and you will realize that we have been lied to for a long long time.

      October 16, 2011 at 20:43 | Report abuse |
  18. Jennifer

    This is just-NO.
    My Mother was a diabetic who basically experimented to find a diet that kept her blood sugar stable. High protein-low carb. Low carb meaning no simple carbs at all; (starches and sugars)NO sugar, bread, potato's, pasta, rice, & Minimal-Moderate fruit & vegetables. Meats, beans ,nuts and dairy -ok. Personally, I don't understand the push for people (anyone) to eat grains, pasta's & whole grains-to me this should always be limited; if you're eating enough fruits and vegetables you should certainly be getting enough fiber; so what are the grains for?

    October 16, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Marc

    Type 2 can be REVERSED FOR LIFE with a vegan diet without worrying about carbs or portions. When you stop eating animal products, fat drains from the muscle cells and the mitochondria wake up and metabolize glucose. Check out Reversing Diabetes by Neal Barnard, available on Amazon.com for about $10. And get OFF THE MEDICATIONS. It really works....

    October 16, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ann

      Telling a diabetic to eat JUST carbs? From a logical standpoint, just nonsense. Not a good long-term plan, and terrible advice.

      October 16, 2011 at 19:40 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      I agree, it really does work and not only for diabetes but heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and many more problems. We have been brainwashed by big corporations to eat meat and dairy products. And Ann, nobody said to just eat carbs, a vegan diet is far from it.

      October 16, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse |
    • Jay Wortman MD

      Barnard is a committed vegan. His diet works because it eliminates a lot of the sugary and refined carbs that people normally eat. A low-carb high-fat diet works better, especially for diabetics, and is more sustainable over the long haul.

      October 17, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
  20. Stacie

    "The lil sludge that builds up in your arteries and causes heart attacks." Seriously??. There is so much wrong with that statement that I do no know where to begin. Arteries are not like the plumbing in your house. Nothing builds up in your arteries. Plaques are below the endothelium(lining of the artery), and are a response to injury(inflammatiion). How do you explain why there is no "buildup", in every artery, or in veins?? txwtch67, you are right about low-carb, but your information on CAD is incorrect. Do some research.

    October 16, 2011 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Marc

    @ Ann: You MISUNDERSTAND and you're DEAD WRONG.
    I did not say anything about just eating carbs! You eat fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, and get all the protein you need from those 4 food groups. With this diet, you no longer have to be obsessed with counting carbs or calories. Try it for 3 weeks under the guidance of the books written by Dr. Barnard!

    October 16, 2011 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ann

      I'll say it again. You cannot get complete protein from plants or beans, or any combination of the two. It does not have a complete amino acid profile. I did not say you couldn't get any, but the fact is that as a protein source, it has an incomplete amino acid profile, not providing enough methionine.

      Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods. Only Animal foods contain true vitamin A and D. Strict vegan or vegetarian diets are at risk for low levels EPA and DHA, which is found only in fish. There is a reason why we evolved eating meat!!

      Plant proteins have INCOMPLETE amino acid profiles, among a whole bunch of other health concerns that we are only recently becoming aware of. Have you read anything lately about soy?? Unfortunately for vegans, it's not looking very good on the soy front, and from folks in the vegan community that I've spoken with it's a protein source that they fall back on all too often.

      The long-term health of humans eating meat has been proven – we are still here. The long-term health of vegetarians who consume eggs and/or dairy has been proven, as they are still here as well. Food anthropologists know that there were (and are) cultures who predominantly ate vegetables and fruits, but also sought out eggs and/or dairy to supplement their protein and fat needs. The long-term health of non-animal consuming vegetarians and vegans is still in question, as these concepts are new to the human race. Humans have always sought animal protein, as they have known they needed those proteins and fats to supplement their mostly vegetable diets. This was especially important for pregnant and lactating mothers, and growing children. In our history, humans have always known this.

      I would be cautious in recommending a diet that flies in the face of what the bodies logical and customary use of nutrients should be. It may work for you, and you should keep doing what works. Most diabetics, however, did not become diabetics from eating animal protein – a vast majority are diabetic from eating too many carbs, and maintaining dangerously high blood sugar levels. That isn't caused from eating meat.

      Not eating animal protein is just too new to humans, and I fear the long-term health consequences could be devastating.

      October 17, 2011 at 03:33 | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      @ Marc – Grains and beans have HUGE carbohydrate counts – how could you tell a diabetic not to limit those??? And fruit? Please! That's like telling ANYONE to go eat candy!

      October 17, 2011 at 03:38 | Report abuse |
  22. RP

    Good lord, with all the complaining about carbs in the comments you'd think the writer had suggested eating nothing but donuts and washing them down with Kool-Aid.

    October 17, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Stuff it, Ann

    @Ann, your view is closed minded. My father has had Type II for two decades controlled by diet alone- now aged 72, though not fully vegetarian from use of whey (milk) protein powder suppliment and the occasional chicken breast (once a week or so). We Americans simply consume too much- the rest of the world eats very little meat, sugar etc and survives quite well without the heart and diabetic problems Americans suffer from. Even 1000's of years ago most people only had whole grains (this is not a loaf of whole wheat bread; see WHOLE grains like wheat berries, barley, etc), vegetables and some fish to live off of. There are suppliments gallore to balance your diet in the modern age. Also- I'd like you to show me a group of Asians in the far East who live off soy and tofu and have diabetes problems, thus living shorter than 60 years in age on average. Recent news (search the BBC if you take issue with CNN) has shown vegan low calorie diets have been shown to slow and even stop the diabetic process in most obese people. Even according to the American Diabetes Association, a well balanced vegetarian diet is very healthy: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/meal-planning-for-vegetarians/

    October 17, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ann

      Wow. I'm going to go stuff it.

      Best of health to you all.

      October 17, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jay Wortman MD

      Why is it that the peace-loving vegetarians are the first ones to get rude when their diet is challenged?

      October 17, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
  24. Selena

    I believe in moderation and balance. Small daily portions of healthy food that contain protein (animal protein is fine if you're used to it), carbs, fats & some sugars–as long as you don't overeat any of those or eliminate them from your diet entirely. Avoid junk food and junk drink like soda pop. Self-prescribed radical diets can bring more harm than good. Again, moderation and balance are key. A glass of wine once or twice a week is beneficial for body and spirit, as are small amounts of very dark, low-sugar chocolate. Exercise is important, but find the kind that agrees with you, and don't overdo it.

    October 17, 2011 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Count Iblis

    When I was in the US, two things were very obvious:

    1) There are way more extremely obese people there than in Europe. Here you rarely see one on the streets, in the US you just have to look around for just few minutes and you'll see one.

    2) The food they serve in resturants is low in carbs. The balance seems totally wrong, and if you address that, you arer told that wat you want isn't healthy. One time, I had to ask for more potatoes, the steakow and potato dish only had a few potatoes and one huge steak. I asked for a plate full of potatoes, the very obese waiter ren on that plied: "So many potatoes, that's not heathy". :)

    So, perhaps all this worrying about carbs in the US is actually causing obesity and diabetes. If you are physically very active as I am, you need to eat large amounts of carbs like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta etc.

    October 17, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jay Wortman MD

      If you actually look at USDA data on US food supply, the only macronutrient that went up when the obesity epidemic started in the late 70's was carbohydrate. Protein and fat are dead flat until recently when the consumption of vegetable oils has raised the fat content of the diet. This is bad because those oils are the reason people are over-consuming omega-6 fatty acids.

      October 17, 2011 at 20:07 | Report abuse |
  26. Jay Wortman MD

    This "board-certified nutrition specialist" sells her own brand of "nutrition bars" that are about 25% sugar (see her website). What else do you need to know?

    October 17, 2011 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. teresa

    ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......?

    October 17, 2011 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. How Diabetes Caused

    How your diabete was caused? I am collecting list of reasons, tell me your roots of diabetes (doctor mistake, infection, etc)

    November 22, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Josh

    No. No. No.

    The prescription you give along with medication and exercise is NOT working because it does not combat the problem. Type II diabetics suffer from insulin resistance, a metabolic disorder caused by continuous high levels of blood-glucose (and thus insulin response). The cure for type II diabetes is already available – I have seen it first hand. Individuals with no medication and no symptoms of type II any longer. I have also seen the flipside – those who exercise, eat low-fat, take meds – they remain type II diabetic.

    This doctor's or "expert's" advice is why 100 million Americans are either pre-diabetic or diabetic.

    The answer is lowering carbohydrate intake dramatically. Read the book Why We Get Fat [Book]: http://tinyurl.com/7eubok2.

    February 24, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Regina

    Megan, when I was pregnant with the girls (TWO iabbes inside me), and I was automatically labeled with gest. diabetes due to my first pregnancy, I also struggled with my fasting numbers while my after-meal readings were normal. They did try me on insulin (before bed) for a short time, but then my fastings were WAY too low (like 39-50 range). I figured it out with diet, just like you're doing But I wanted to tell you even with TWO iabbes, I did not gain a pound until I was almost 20 weeks (my high risk specialist who had warned me not to gain too much weight in the beginning was starting to beg me to gain something!). I think I gained less than 25 lbs over all. I think you're doing so incredibly well by this baby, and I'll keep you all in my thoughts & prayers for a healthy happy baby after all of this!!!

    March 5, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. nicediabetes

    Thanks for helping to raise awareness about diabetic healthy eating

    July 1, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. http://www.ayurvedicdiet.com

    Thanks for posting this . I have been looking for something like this . Great information I will be back for any info in regards to the ayurvedic diet.

    July 13, 2012 at 04:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jonathan

    I had diabetes type 2 and got rid of it in 3 weeks, my sugar levels have stayed normal around 90 for more than a year and my Glycohemoglobin (HbA1c, A1c) is less than 5 and 6 moths prior it was 8.6. I never used drugs to help the process. I used easy all natural conventional methods. God left us something better than drugs and it worked for me.

    January 18, 2014 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.