- How to reverse your type 2 diabetes
- 2. What is diabetes?
- Types of diabetes
- Common symptoms of diabetes
- 3. About blood sugar
- 4. Food & diabetes
- 5. How to improve blood sugar
- 6. The science of diabetes reversal
- 7. A message of hope
- How to Reverse Diabetes Without Medication
- Type I vs. type II diabetes
- How insulin works
- If you do nothing else, cut sugar
- Lose weight
- The ultimate diabetes diet: go keto
- Join over 1 million fans
- Best Foods for Diabetics
Ask the experts
I’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and it was a big wake-up call. I want to avoid medications and try to handle this with lifestyle changes. What can I do to reverse this? Is there a diabetes diet?
Not all people with diabetes need drug therapy. A healthy eating plan and exercise alone can be enough if the person makes significant lifestyle changes. This health condition can be prevented by following a low glycemic load diet (basically, a diet low in sugars), staying physically active, and getting regular medical screenings.
If you have this type of diabetes the foods you eat should have a low glycemic load (index) (foods higher in fiber, protein or fats) like vegetables and good quality protein such as fish, chicken, beans, and lentils. From that base, other types of nutritious foods like fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and nuts should be added.
Foods with a high glycemic index (foods that raise blood sugar too quickly) are foods to avoid, such as processed foods, high in carbohydrates, sugars, or animal fat. Examples of foods to avoid include:
A good rule of thumb is to avoid white foods (except for cauliflower!).
Can exercise help manage type 2 diabetes?
Exercise is very important if you have this health condition. Exercise makes cells more insulin sensitive, pulling glucose out of the blood. This brings down blood sugar, and more importantly, gives you better energy because the glucose is being transferred to the cells. Any type of exercise will do this, but extra benefit is gained when the activity helps build muscle, such as weight training or using resistance bands. The benefits of exercise on blood sugar last about 48-72 hours, so it is important for you to be physically active almost every day.
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How to reverse your type 2 diabetes
Do you have type 2 diabetes, or are you at risk for diabetes? Do you worry about your blood sugar? Do you have type 1 diabetes or care for someone who does? Then you’ve come to the right place.
This guide gives you an overview of what you need to know about diabetes. Our other guides can teach you more about the symptoms of diabetes, as well as provide specific information about type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes.
We also have a practical guide about the best foods to control diabetes.
Many people with diabetes or prediabetes have improved their health with dietary changes. You can too! This may mean that you can reduce or eliminate diabetes medication, and these same dietary changes may help you lose weight as well.
Keep reading to see if this could work for you!
2. What is diabetes?
Simply put, diabetes is a disorder of blood sugar and insulin. The reason that a person develops high blood sugar depends on what type of diabetes that a person has. However, all types of diabetes indicate that something has gone wrong with the way a person makes or uses insulin.
Type 1 diabetes results when, for autoimmune or other unknown reasons, the pancreas becomes damaged and fails to produce insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, the body usually does make insulin, but can’t use it effectively. Then the body has an increasingly hard time handling sugar in the blood.
Too much sugar in the blood is a problem because the sugar molecule in your blood, called glucose, damages blood vessels when there is too much of it. At the same time, other parts of the body can’t get energy from glucose because the glucose stays in the bloodstream and doesn’t enter other cells. Over time, this situation can harm the body in many ways and cause serious complications.
Too little insulin is a life-threatening condition, but too much insulin, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, is a problem too. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that lowers blood sugar by moving sugar out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells.
Insulin’s primary job is to keep blood sugar levels within a very narrow range. Insulin not only helps clear the excess glucose out of the blood, it also helps prevent muscle breakdown.1 However, insulin also increases fat storage, especially when blood levels are elevated, and prevents the body from using fat for fuel.
Over time, too much insulin in the blood decreases the body’s ability to use insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Weight gain can be one of the first signs that the body is making too much insulin and is becoming insulin resistant. Diet and other lifestyle changes can help reverse insulin resistance and its associated weight gain, which may help prevent diabetes.
To learn more about diabetes, click here:
Types of diabetes
There are different kinds of diabetes, but all involve having too much sugar in the blood because the body is not making or using insulin effectively.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes, accounting for over 90% of all cases.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes begins when an individual makes more insulin than the body can handle. When people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they often have ten times more insulin in their bodies than normal.Diabetes Care 2012: Diabetes: have we got it all wrong? When insulin levels in your blood stay high for long periods of time, this can cause weight gain and other symptoms of insulin resistance.
Over time, the pancreas can no longer make enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels in check — even though it may still be making a lot! That’s because cells have become increasingly resistant to insulin’s effect.. When this happens, blood sugar levels start to rise, and a person may be diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. When this happens, a diet that limits the foods that raise blood sugar the most can help.
Type 2 diabetes often affects people who are middle-aged or older, although it is becoming an increasing problem for teenagers and young adults in poor metabolic health. It’s not uncommon for the affected person to also have high blood pressure and other health problems.
Type 1 diabetes
Unlike people with type 2 diabetes, people who develop type 1 diabetes do not often experience problems associated with excess insulin, such as weight gain. People with type 1 diabetes are, in fact, much more likely to be normal weight at diagnosis and experience rapid weight loss prior to receiving treatment.
Since people with type 1 diabetes make little to no insulin, treatment primarily consists of administering insulin with injections. In addition, a diet that doesn’t raise blood sugar can help people with type 1 diabetes achieve and maintain stable, normal blood sugar levels.
In the past, type 1 diabetes was often called juvenile-onset diabetes because it typically begins in childhood or when someone is a young adult. However, it can occur in older adults as well, often with a more gradual onset, which is referred to as LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, sometimes called type 1.5 diabetes). Regardless of one’s age at diagnosis, its effects last a lifetime.
Other types of diabetes
Sometimes a diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t fit neatly into the categories of type 1 or type 2. Some overweight adults develop type 1 diabetes, and thin people can develop type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a special case of type 2 diabetes that happens temporarily during pregnancy, although having gestational diabetes can make it more likely that you will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.The Lancet 2009: Type 2 diabetes mellitus after gestational diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis There are also quite rare types of diabetes like MODY (Mature Onset Diabetes in the Young) and CFRD (Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes). Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes referred to as type 3 diabetes. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology 2008: Alzheimer’s Disease is type 3 diabetes — evidence reviewed
Common symptoms of diabetes
- Increased thirst and urination
- Severe fatigue
- Feeling hungrier than usual
- Unexplained weight loss
- Delayed healing of injuries
- Blurred vision
- Numbness and tingling in hands, feet or toes
- Dark patches of skin
- Skin rashes and lesions
- Yeast and urinary tract infections (women)
- Erectile dysfunction (men)
For more details about these conditions, see our guide to symptoms of diabetes. However, please note that with prediabetes and early stages of type 2 diabetes, you often don’t notice anything.
If you think you have any of the warning signs of diabetes, see your doctor.
3. About blood sugar
Our guide, “What you need to know about blood sugar”, can help you learn more about both high and low blood sugar. This guide to diabetes focuses specifically on the high blood sugar levels that occur in diabetes.
How do you know if you have too much sugar in your blood? If you don’t know already, it’s simple to test in a few seconds, either in your doctor’s office or with your own inexpensive blood glucose meter.2
If you are testing your blood sugar at home, read and follow the directions that come with your blood sugar meter. For most meters, the general procedure goes like this:
- With clean hands, place a test strip in your blood sugar meter.
- Prick the side of a finger with the lancet to draw a drop of blood.
- Place the tip of the test strip on the drop of blood.
- After a few seconds, the blood sugar meter will give you a reading.
Compare your own blood sugar reading with the ranges below: 3
Keep in mind that a single blood sugar reading isn’t enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Your doctor can perform further testing to confirm whether you have diabetes or prediabetes.
If you are already on a low-carbohydrate diet and you are concerned about the measurements you’re getting, see “How a low-carb diet affects blood sugar measurements.”
4. Food & diabetes
People with diabetes have difficulty keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range. The blood turns “too sweet” as glucose levels rise.4
Sugar in your blood comes from two places: your liver and the food that you eat. You can’t do much to control the amount of sugar your liver makes, but you can control the foods you eat.
Foods are made up of three broad categories known as macronutrients (major nutrients): carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Many foods are a combination of two or all three macronutrients, but we often group foods according to whether they are mostly carbohydrate, protein, or fat.
Foods that turn into glucose when they are digested are called carbohydrates. When glucose enters the bloodstream, it’s called blood sugar.
Carbohydrates The more carbohydrate eaten in a meal, the more sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and the higher blood sugar will be.
Although very few people would agree that sugary foods are good for you, some foods that we think of as “healthy” — such as fruit — actually have a lot of sugar. And many people don’t know that starchy foods — such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes — quickly turn to sugar when you digest them. Eating a potato can raise blood sugar as much as eating 9 teaspoons of sugar!
Chart: Dr. David Unwin
Protein foods are foods like eggs, chicken, steak, and tofu. Although different people have different responses to some protein foods, consuming moderate amounts of protein at a meal generally has little effect on blood sugar.
Dietary fat has very little effect on blood sugar. However, we seldom eat fat all by itself. Some foods, like cheese, are made up of mostly protein and fat. Those foods are not likely to raise your blood sugar very much. But some foods, like donuts and French fries, are made up mostly of carbohydrate and fat. Because of their carbohydrate content, these kinds of foods are likely to raise your blood sugar.
5. How to improve blood sugar
What happens if you remove foods that raise your blood sugar from your diet? Is there anything good left to eat? We think so. In fact, we have a whole guide on “The best foods to control diabetes.”
Many people with type 2 diabetes are now choosing a diet based primarily on low-carbohydrate foods.5
They often notice that, starting with the first meal, their blood sugar improves. The need for medications, especially insulin, is usually dramatically reduced. Substantial weight loss often follows. Finally, they usually feel better, have more energy and alertness, and can improve many health markers. 6
Because of these benefits and others, many doctors are recommending diets low in carbohydrates for their patients with diabetes.7
Choosing foods low in carbohydrates is a safe and easy way to help you control your blood sugar. However, if you are taking medications for your diabetes, you must work with your healthcare provider to adjust your medications when you change your diet. Choosing a diet made up of food with fewer sugars and starches means that your blood sugar levels may improve quickly. The need for medications, especially insulin, may be dramatically reduced.
If you are looking for a doctor who will work with you to control your diabetes with a change in diet, our map may help you find one.
6. The science of diabetes reversal
In 2019, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) stated that reducing carbohydrate intake was the most effective strategy for improving blood sugar control in those with diabetes.8
Research shows that low-carb diets are a safe and effective option for treating and reversing type 2 diabetes. This body of evidence includes meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (the highest quality of evidence by our ratings.).9
A meta-analysis from 2017 found that low-carb diets reduced the need for medication and also improved health markers in people with type 2 diabetes. These included reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), triglycerides and blood pressure and increases in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.10
Last, a non-randomized trial of a ketogenic, low-carb diet from Virta Health involving about 330 people with type 2 diabetes, found that, at the one-year mark, 97 percent of patients had reduced or stopped their insulin use. Furthermore, 58 percent no longer had a diabetes diagnosis, meaning they had put their disease into remission. These results remained remarkable up to the two-year mark as well.11 This evidence disproves the idea that type 2 diabetes is a progressive and irreversible disease. Instead, it clearly demonstrate that it is a treatable disease when an effective lifestyle intervention is used. Read more
7. A message of hope
As recently as 50 years ago, type 2 diabetes was extremely rare. Now, around the world, the number of people with diabetes is increasing incredibly rapidly and is heading towards 500 million. This is a world-wide epidemic.
In the past, those affected by the most common form of diabetes, type 2, were told that they would never regain their health. Type 2 diabetes was thought to be a progressive disease with no hope for reversal or remission. People were — and sometimes still are — taught to “manage” type 2 diabetes, rather than to try to reverse their high blood sugars.
Unfortunately, “managing” type 2 diabetes often leads to an increase in medications and to serious complications: impaired vision, damaged kidneys, wounds that won’t heal, and decreased cognitive function. In many cases, these complications lead to blindness, kidney failure and dialysis, amputation, dementia, and death.
But now people with type 2 diabetes can hope to regain their health! Now we know that the hallmarks of type 2 diabetes — high blood sugar and high insulin — can often be reversed. People don’t just have to “manage” their diabetes as it progresses. Instead, they can often lower their blood sugar to normal levels with diet alone. This also means they may be able to avoid or discontinue most medications.12
Normal blood sugar levels and fewer or no medications means no progression of disease, and no progression of disease means no complications. People with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may be able to live long, healthy lives, with toes, eyesight, and kidneys intact!
If you are not on any medications, you can start your journey back to health today. If you are on medications for diabetes or for other conditions, consult your doctor before beginning any lifestyle change, such as a low-carbohydrate diet, so that your medications are adjusted safely as your blood sugars improve.
When you’re ready, here’s where to start: A low-carbohydrate diet for beginners. During your own journey, you might be inspired by some spectacular diabetes success stories.
If you want to learn more about how you can improve your health and the health of your family, start here by keeping up with the latest news from Diet Doctor.
How to Reverse Diabetes Without Medication
- Can you reverse diabetes? It depends on type, stage, and several other factors, many of which are totally in your control.
- Diabetes symptoms include things like increased hunger, increased thirst, frequent urination, slow wound healing, and blurred vision, to name a few.
- Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects an estimated 23.1 million people in the US, and as many as 1 in 4 people don’t know they have it. That doesn’t count people who are prediabetic or at risk for developing diabetes.
- When insulin is working well, your cells get the energy you need and you don’t store excess fat. A couple things can go wrong with this process, though.
- Read on to find out what diet and lifestyle changes can keep your blood sugar level and regulate your insulin production.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects an estimated 23.1 million people in the U.S., and as many as 1 in 4 people don’t know they have it. Numbers have steadily climbed over the past few decades with no signs of leveling off. Diabetes symptoms include things like increased hunger, increased thirst, frequent urination, slow wound healing, and blurred vision, to name a few.
All doctors approach diabetes differently, and the management of it depends on whether your doctor focuses on prescriptions or takes a more holistic approach. Some doctors will decide whether or not you need insulin medication, and how much. Others will advise you on diet and lifestyle changes that can help.
Diabetes is one of those conditions where conversations with your doctor will be much more productive if you have some information about what’s going on. Read on to learn the basics about how diabetes and insulin work, and how to improve your condition whether you’re at risk or if you already have diabetes.
Type I vs. type II diabetes
As of now, diabetes is classified as either Type I or Type II. New research suggests there are several more types of diabetes, which all require different treatment approaches, but that’s a developing area of knowledge. On an episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dr. Steven Masley explains why doctors are starting to view Altzheimer’s disease as “type III diabetes” and picks apart the relationship between insulin and brain degeneration. Listen to it on iTunes.
With Type I diabetes, your immune system attacks the pancreas, and it makes less and less insulin over time. With Type II diabetes, your cells become insulin resistant (more on that coming up), and your pancreas struggles to keep up with the demand for even more insulin.
Type I diabetes is tricky because of the autoimmune component. Keeping inflammation low quiets your immune system so you can preserve the insulin-producing beta cells in your pancreas that you still have.
Type II diabetes is more responsive to diet and lifestyle changes, and countless people have had success reversing their diabetes by taking control of their diet and life.
Whether you have Type I diabetes, Type II diabetes, prediabetes, or if you can feel blood sugar fluctuations around your eating patterns, you’ll benefit from diet and lifestyle changes that benefit your blood sugar.
How insulin works
Before you get too deep, first understand how insulin plays into it all.
When you eat something, your body breaks food down into amino acids (protein), lipids (fats), and glucose (sugar). Sugar goes into your bloodstream for delivery to your cells to give them the fuel they need to do their jobs.
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get where it needs to go. When your body senses that you’ve eaten something, your pancreas produces insulin to help your cells absorb sugar. If you didn’t have insulin, your cells wouldn’t receive their glucose fuel, and your body would sense sugar in your bloodstream and eventually store it as fat because your cells didn’t use it.
When it’s working well, your cells get the energy they need and you don’t store excess fat. A couple things can go wrong with this process, though.
Insulin resistance is exactly as it sounds — your cells don’t get the signal from insulin to absorb sugar. If your muscle and organ cells do not respond to insulin and absorb blood sugar, your cells don’t get the fuel they need and sugar stays in the bloodstream. That signals your body to store it as fat.
If your cells aren’t responding to insulin, your pancreas produces more to turn up the volume on the signal that glucose is available and the cells should absorb it. When your pancreas can keep up, blood glucose stays within healthy ranges, and all is well. When your pancreas starts to poop out, you end up with insulin deficiency, which leads to blood sugar fluctuations and weight gain.
Insulin resistance demands more insulin from your pancreas. Pre-diabetes is when you don’t make quite enough and your blood sugar levels rise, but they’re not yet high enough for an official diabetes diagnosis.
Our job is to make food and lifestyle choices that will keep that process humming. Here are some research-backed things you can incorporate to get a handle on insulin resistance, prediabetes, and diabetes.
If you do nothing else, cut sugar
Piles and piles of research link high sugar consumption with diabetes. That’s because nature doesn’t make the super sugary foods and drinks that humans manufacture, and we aren’t built to handle it.
Your body breaks down the food you eat into sugar (glucose) that your cells can use for fuel. Humans are built to handle blood sugar levels that come from meals of meats and vegetables with a moderate amount of fruits.
In the last few hundred years or so, people started to isolate sugar into an ingredient and sweeten foods with it (maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners included).
Sugary foods cause a spike in the glucose in your blood. Your body can handle the occasional surge, but when sweets become an everyday thing, your body starts to struggle to deal with it. The overwork tires out your pancreas, and produces less and less insulin, which keeps glucose in your blood instead of in your cells where it belongs.
Especially in the early stages of insulin resistance, prediabetes, and diabetes, simply cutting sugar drastically reduces your insulin demand, and in turn reduces the burden on your pancreas.
The most detrimental thing sugar does is cause inflammation, and inflammation is the root of almost everything that misfires in your body. There is a direct link between inflammation and diabetes, and a lower carb diet reduces C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. In addition to sugar, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your toxic load and keep your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio low to keep inflammation down.
Although scientists do not yet understand the exact causes of insulin resistance, excess body weight is on the suspect list.
Researchers found that participants with diabetes went into remission by losing weight alone — even without taking insulin.
If you’re not yet diabetic but you’re at risk, or if you can feel your blood sugar fluctuations (crashing and needing to eat, or feeling “hangry”), consider losing weight to reduce your risk. In one study, for every kilogram of weight loss (a little over 2 lbs), there was a 16% reduction in risk.
Another study followed adults at high risk for diabetes for 10 years and found that people who made diet and lifestyle changes had a lower incidence of diabetes than participants who got metformin (a medication to control blood sugar) or placebo.
If you’re overweight, chances are you’re at risk for diabetes or you’re already there. It might be time to start looking into changing the way you eat.
Which brings us to…
The ultimate diabetes diet: go keto
The research is so solid that the medical community is catching on and starting to advise diabetic patients to limit carbs. Study after study shows that a high-fat, low-carb, ketogenic diet reverses Type 2 diabetes.
If your carb consumption is on the high side (once you add sugar into the mix, you’re most certainly on the high side), it’s stored as fat and you end up with insulin resistance or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The reason behind it is that carbs metabolize into glucose, and limiting carbs helps your body control blood sugar more efficiently. It improves overall blood sugar profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c, which is a diabetes marker. Going low-carb is especially effective if you’re in the early stages when you do not yet need to administer insulin.
Reducing carbs and upping your intake of high-quality fats reduces fat in your blood, which in turn lowers your risk of diabetes.
Even if making small gradual changes over time doesn’t cure you, you’ll feel so much better when you give your body what it needs and when you don’t burden it with what it doesn’t need. Whether you’re reducing your risk of developing diabetes or eliminating your need for medication, it’s worth incorporating worthwhile changes so you can be the best version of yourself.
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Best Foods for Diabetics
Regularly eating broccoli can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, cell damage, worsening eye sight and some forms of cancer.
Broccoli is full of phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals, which may protect against cancer and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Cruciferous vegetables contain indole alkaloids that may suppress the growth of tumors and help prevent cancer. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Plus, foods from the cruciferous and cabbage family (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips) may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that people who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.
That’s one reason why Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of Eat for Health and Eat to Live, recommends eating cruciferous vegetables every day.
In lab studies, sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, actually made cancer cells like leukemia and melanoma self-destruct. A 2007 Chinese study found that the compound may slow down the spread of breast cancer.
To get the most out of this vegetable, try to eat it raw or lightly steamed — remember: cooking kills off most of its vitamin C. Include chopped broccoli in grain dishes, salads, soups, smoothies or as part of omelets or quiche.
Broccoli can be easily eaten raw as a snack, added to stir fries, pasta dishes and fajitas, or it can be steamed and eaten as a side dish with meals. The fiber in broccoli will help you remain full longer and keep your energy levels high.
Note: If you don’t like broccoli, try cauliflower instead; or, add yellow/orange bell peppers, garlic and/or onions to your broccoli.
Brussels sprouts is another one of the best vegetables for fighting Type 2 diabetes.
Brussels sprouts are a good source of protein, fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A (beta carotene), B-Complex vitamins, folate, manganese, iron and potassium.
Brussels sprouts contain the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which helps to stabilize blood glucose levels.
In a 2019 review, supplementation with this compound demonstrated an ability to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in people with diabetes.
Brussels sprouts also contain certain antioxidants compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that can reduce your risk of cancer.
Vitamin C keeps your immune system strong and protects your cells from free radical damage, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Fiber keeps your digestive system working normally, encourages regular bowel movements and prevents constipation. Fiber also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Flavonoid antioxidants like isorhamnetin, quercitin, and kaempferol are also found in Brussels sprouts, as are the antioxidants caffeic acid and ferulic acid.
Brussels sprouts can help us avoid chronic, excessive inflammation through a variety of nutrient benefits. First is their rich glucosinolate content. In addition to the detox-supportive properties, glucosinolates found in Brussels sprouts help to regulate the body’s inflammatory/ anti-inflammatory system and prevent unwanted inflammation.
A second important anti-inflammatory nutrient found in Brussels sprouts is vitamin K. Vitamin K is a direct regulator of inflammatory responses, and we need optimal intake of this vitamin in order to avoid chronic, excessive inflammation.
A third important anti-inflammatory component in Brussels sprouts is Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks for the one of the body’s most effective families of anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.
The anti-inflammatory nature of glucosinolates/isothiocyanates and other nutrients found in Brussels sprouts has been the basis for new research on inflammation-related health problems and the potential role of Brussels sprouts in their prevention.
Current and potentially promising research is underway to examine the benefits of Brussels sprouts in relationship to our risk of the following inflammation-related conditions: Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic syndrome, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis.
Eggs received a bad rap because of the phobia tied to high cholesterol. But, the egg is an amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat.
Eggs: SuperfoodA single egg contains: 9 essential amino acids, high quality protein, lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes); choline for your brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems; and naturally occurring B12.
Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones
Note: Ideally, you’ll want to eat the whole egg, especially the yolk where most of the key nutrients reside. If possible, eat your eggs raw, or as close to raw as possible, such as soft-boiled or poached.
Note: If you choose to use egg whites, please don’t eat them raw unless you also consume the egg yolks, otherwise you risk developing a biotin deficiency.
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is one of the ancient cultivated crops since Mesopotamian times, grown for its oil seeds, and fiber. The chewy seeds are packed with full of nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and essential vitamins.
Flaxseed: SuperfoodFlaseed is an excellent source of vitamin E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol; containing about 20 g (133% of daily-recommended values) per 100 g. vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
The seeds are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Thiamin is an essential co-factor for carbohydrate metabolism and helps prevent beri-beri disease. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus when consumed during pre-conception period and pregnancy.
Furthermore, flax seed is rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
Flaxseed delivers the full benefits of Omega-3 EFA (alpha linolenic acid), the Omega-6 and Omega-9 EFAs, plus all of the fiber, protein, lignans, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, to help control blood glucose levels, appetite, and cravings.
Lignans are a type of natural plant chemical contained within the cell matrix of the flaxseed that act as plant hormones. When bacteria in the digestive tract act on plant lignans, these compounds are converted into potent, hormone-like substances, known as phytoestrogens. Research findings have concluded that the chemical release of these phytoestrogens is able to block the action of certain cancer-causing substances associated with breast, colon and prostate cancers.
Researchers believe these plant hormones mimic the body’s own estrogen type of cells and can block the formation of hormone-based tumors or growths.
Unlike the hormones produced in the body, these plant hormones do not stimulate cancerous cells to grow. In fact, lignans boost production of a substance that fastens onto human estrogen and carries it out of the body.
Lignans are also considered to be antioxidants; therefore, researchers believe they can protect healthy cells from free radical oxidative damage.
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food that protects against heart disease, reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol levels. It also has vitamins C and B6, manganese, and selenium.
Garlic is a source of a group of phytochemical compounds known as allyl sulfides. These compounds may be able to prevent cancer development by helping your body eliminate potentially cancerous substances, by inhibiting tumor growth and by causing cancerous cells to die. Allyl sulfides might also support health and immune system function.
The cardioprotective benefits of garlic may partly rest on the production of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. Our red blood cells can take sulfur-containing molecules in garlic (called polysulfides) and use them to produce H2S. This H2S in turn can help our blood vessels expand and keep our blood pressure in check.
Garlic unique set of sulfur-containing compounds helps protect us against oxidative stress and unwanted inflammation.
In addition to the ability of garlic to help prevent our blood vessels from becoming blocked, this allium vegetable may also be able to help prevent clots from forming inside of our blood vessels.
Garlic can help prevent certain cells in our blood (called platelets) from becoming too sticky, and by keeping this stickiness in check, it lowers the risk of our platelets clumping together and forming a clot.
The allicin in garlic is able to lower blood pressure by blocking the activity of a protein (peptide) called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II helps our blood vessels contract. When they contract, our blood is forced to pass through a smaller space, and the pressure is increased.
By blocking the activity of angiotensin II, allicin is able to help prevent unwanted contraction of our blood vessels and unwanted increases in blood pressure.
Garlic’s numerous beneficial cardiovascular effects are due to not only its sulfur compounds, but also to its vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium and manganese.
Garlic is a very good source of vitamin C, the body’s primary antioxidant defender in all aqueous (water-soluble) areas, such as the bloodstream, where it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Since it is the oxidized form of LDL cholesterol that initiates damage to blood vessel walls, reducing levels of oxidizing free radicals in the bloodstream can have a positive effect on preventing cardiovascular disease.
Garlic’s vitamin B6 helps prevent heart disease via another mechanism: lowering levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls and trigger arterial plaque formation.
The selenium in garlic can become an important part of our body’s antioxidant system. A cofactor of glutathione peroxidase (one of the body’s most important internally produced antioxidant enzymes), selenium also works with vitamin E in a number of vital antioxidant systems.
Garlic is rich not only in selenium, but also in another trace mineral, manganese, which also functions as a cofactor in a number of other important antioxidant defense enzymes, for example, superoxide dismutase. Studies have found that in adults deficient in manganese, the level of HDL (the “good form” of cholesterol) is decreased.
Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia and Nepal, garlic has been used to treat bronchitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), TB (tuberculosis), liver disorders, dysentery, flatulence, colic, intestinal worms, rheumatism, diabetes, and fevers.
Garlic tops the National Cancer Institute’s list as a potential cancer-preventive food.
According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease and hypertension.
Tip: When you slice and crush garlic cloves, let them sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the enzymes to become active.
For more information about the benefits of garlic, refer to our Garlic web page.
Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Anyone familiar with the Mediterranean diet is aware of the nutrient power of extra virgin olive oil and its health benefits, as well as the wonderful flavor of a good dose of olive oil on salads, fish, pasta and almost anything else.
Statistics have shown that Mediterranean populations such as Spain, Italy and Greece, have significantly lower rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) than that seen throughout the rest of the world.
The quality of olive oil production – especially the stage of pressing – really does make a difference when it comes to health benefits. Recent studies have compared the anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) obtained from the first pressing of the oil to the anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oils (non-EVOO) obtained from later pressings.
Health benefits of extra virgin olive oil include the following:
A reduction in inflammation markers was identified by researchers that EVOO lowered the inflammatory markers in the blood when non-EVOOs were unable to do so. (Study measurements included blood levels of thromboxane A2, or TXA2, and leukotriene B2, or LBT2.)
This ability of extra virgin olive oil to help protect against unwanted inflammation is not surprising, since EVOO is known to contain stronger concentrations of phytonutrients (especially polyphenols) that have well-known anti-inflammatory properties.
Research has documented a wide variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms used by olive oil polyphenols to lower our risk of inflammatory problems. These mechanisms include decreased production of messaging molecules that would otherwise increase inflammation (including TNF-alpha, interleukin 1-beta, thromboxane B2, and leukotriene B4); inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 1 and cyclo-oxygenase 2; and decreased synthesis of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase.
In heart patients, olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation. They have also been found to reduce activity in a metabolic pathway called the arachidonic acid pathway, which is central for mobilizing inflammatory processes.
Heart disease reduction has been identified in numerous studies of the Mediterranean Diet that olive oil intake contributed to a decreased risk of heart disease.
However, a recent group of studies has provided us with a fascinating explanation of olive oil’s cardioprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil – hydroxytyrosol (HT) – helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules.
Recent research studies have taken these heart-healthy effects of olive oil one step further. Olive oil’s monounsaturated fat content (specifically, its high level of oleic acid) has now been determined to be a mechanism linking olive oil intake to decreased blood pressure.
Researchers believe that the plentiful amount of oleic acid in olive oil gets absorbed into the body, finds its way into cell membranes, changes signaling patterns at a cell membrane level (specifically, altering G-protein associated cascades) and thereby lowers blood pressure.
To our knowledge, this is the first time that the monounsaturated fat content of olive oil has been linked not only to cholesterol reduction, but also to reduction of blood pressure.
Anti-clotting benefits have been demonstrated by various laboratory studies have also found that 2-(3,4-di-hydroxyphenyl)-ethanol (DHPE), a phenol component of extra-virgin olive oil with potent antioxidant properties, is able to inhibit platelet aggregation (blood clotting) more effectively that other flavonoids. The phenol enriched portion of olive oil also demonstrated similar activity.
This is important because heart attacks and strokes are caused by blood clots which build up in the arteries of the heart or brain which have been narrowed due to atherosclerotic plaque formation. The ability to form normal blood clots to physical trauma is of course necessary to prevent hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding), however the degree of blood clot inhibition which would occur due to olive oil consumption would not be so severe that it would be dangerous at all.
Cancer prevention has been one of the most active areas of olive oil research, and the jury is no longer out on the health benefits of olive oil with respect to cancer. Twenty-five studies on olive oil intake and cancer risk – including most of the large-scale human studies conducted up through the year 2010 – have recently been analyzed by a team of researchers at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research Institute in Milan, Italy.
Firmly established by this research team were the risk-reducing effects of olive oil intake with respect to cancers of the breast, respiratory tract, upper digestive tract and, to a lesser extent, lower digestive tract (colorectal cancers). These anti-cancer benefits of olive oil became most evident when the diets of routine olive oil users were compared with the diets of individuals who seldom used olive oil and instead consumed diets high in saturated added fat, especially butter.
Digestive health benefits of olive oil for the digestive tract were first uncovered in research on diet and cancers of the digestive tract. Numerous studies found lower rates of digestive tract cancers – especially cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the stomach and small intestine – in populations that regularly consumed olive oil.
Recent research has provided us with even more information, however, about olive oil, its polyphenols, and protection of the digestive tract. One fascinating area of recent research has involved the polyphenols in olive oil and the balance of bacteria in our digestive tract. Numerous polyphenols in olive oil have been shown to slow the growth of unwanted bacteria, including bacteria commonly responsible for digestive tract infections.
Improved cognitive function – especially among older adults – is a well-known feature of the Mediterranean Diet. As the staple oil in that diet, olive oil has been of special interest for researchers interested in diet and cognitive function. In France, a recent study large-scale study on older adults has shown that visual memory and verbal fluency can be improved with what the researchers called “intensive use” of olive oil. In this case, “intensive use” meant regular use of olive oil not just for cooking, or as an ingredient in sauces and dressings, but in all of these circumstances.
Note: When you savor the peppery zing of extra-virgin olive oil, you’re tasting powerful antioxidants. The phytonutrients that bring the bite also have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body. That helps protect and repair the cardiovascular system, which constant fluctuations in blood sugar can damage. Olive oil is also incredibly versatile. It’s appropriate for anything from salads to sautés. Best of all, it slows absorption of the carbohydrates it’s paired with for a healthier glycemic load overall.
Raw Vegetable Juice
Raw vegetable juice provides key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and other phytonutrients that may help to prevent various diseases, especially heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Scientist says that when you drink juice, the nutrients enter your bloodstream within 30 minutes, so you get the healthy benefits from fresh vegetables almost immediately.
Also, raw vegetable juice is easy on your digestive tract because the juicer removes the fiber, making it easier for your body to assimilate the nutrients from the raw vegetable juice. The enzymes in raw juice increases metabolism, so you will feel energized. Also, when your metabolism is higher, it’s easier to drop those unwanted pounds.
Since raw vegetable juice contains chlorophyll, this helps to strengthen your body through cellular cleansing. Chlorophyll assists the liver with detoxifying, it rebuilds blood cells, removes parasites and exotoxins, eliminates mold, and assists your body in preventing and eliminating cancer cells. It also assists your body by helping to stabilize your blood glucose level.
Sardines get a bad rap. But before you toss this one back to sea, know this: These guys taste like tuna, are less fishy than caviar and come already de-headed – so they won’t stare back when you peel open a can.
Why it’s a good food for women: Sardines are a cheap and convenient way to fill up on fish oil, vitamin D and calcium all at once, says Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., co-author of The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes (Simon & Schuster).
“Just one can of bone-in sardines covers 125% of your vitamin D needs, 35% of your calcium and 88% of your daily selenium requirement,” she says.
Selenium, an antioxidant, helps keep the immune system fighting fit and protects our cells from damage.
Where to get it: For the healthiest catch, choose water-packed sardines without added salt.
Sardines get a bad rap. But, they provide many health benefits to the heart and the brain. Sardines and other small, fatty fish are high in essential omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies can only get from the food we eat.
As a result, sardines and other omega-3-rich fish help in a couple of ways: They’re a great source of fat and protein to slow absorption of blood sugars, and they help protect your cardiovascular system, which irregular blood sugar fluctuations that can come with diabetes can damage.
The healthy fat in sardines is good for your brain, too, and may help fend off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Also, sardines contain selenium, an antioxidant which helps keep the immune system fighting fit and protects our cells from damage.
Why it’s a good food for women: Sardines are a cheap and convenient way to fill up on fish oil, vitamin D and calcium all at once. Just one can of bone-in sardines covers 125% of your vitamin D needs, 35% of your calcium and 88% of your daily selenium requirement.
Where to get it: For the healthiest catch, choose water-packed sardines without added salt from Portugal.
There are many types of seaweed, which has been used traditionally in Asian diets. Seaweed is low in calories, but high in nutrients. According to the Planet Green website, seaweed provides a number of benefits such as alkalizing your blood, promoting weight loss, deterring the formation of cellulite and providing protection from different environmental toxins.
Seaweed is commonly used in sushi, but it can also be used as a baked snack, as a seasoning, and as an added vegetable in soups and stir fries.
Spinach is filled with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — a duo that acts like sunscreen for your eyes and guards against macular degeneration.
One cup of fresh spinach leaves also provides almost double the daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in cardiovascular and bone health.
And of course you can’t forget that spinach is a great vegetarian source of iron, which keeps your hair and nails strong and healthy. Use fresh spinach leaves as a base for salad or sauté it and add to an omelet.
Researchers in Sweden recently identified another way in which these greens might keep you charged: Compounds found in spinach actually increase the efficiency of our mitochondria, the energy-producing factories inside our cells. That means eating a cup of cooked spinach a day may give you more lasting power on the elliptical machine (or in your daily sprint to catch the bus).
Walnuts: happen to be high in omega-3s, which research indicates can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and even depression. A daily handful of walnuts — which contains about 200 calories — is literally a generous handful of health.
Eat walnuts as a snack or incorporate them into your favorite recipes — adding chopped walnuts to any dish will lend a delectable crunch and nutty flavor.
Walnuts are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid your body needs to create the feel-great chemical serotonin. (In fact, Spanish researchers found that walnut eaters have higher levels of this natural mood-regulator.) They’re digested slowly, which contributes to mood stability and can help you tolerate stress.
If you use walnuts as a pre-walk snack or add them to your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, you may enjoy even greater cholesterol-lowering benefit. Walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a compound called ellagic acid that has been shown to reduce artery-forming plaque. Nuts are a truly heart healthy snack, topping or addition to any meal.
Note: Nearly all raw nuts are healthy for us due to their heart-healthy unsaturated fats and other phytonutrients.
One of the more powerful green juices that contains concentrated levels of chlorophyll is wheatgrass juice.
Wheatgrass is a nutrient-rich young grass that helps to cleanse and detoxify the body. Wheatgrass provides a concentrated amount of nutrients, including iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids; chlorophyll, and vitamins A, C and E.
Wheatgrass cleanses and builds the blood due to its high content of chlorophyll.
FYI: Chlorophyll is the first product of light and therefore contains more healing properties than any other element. All life on this planet comes from the sun. Only green plants can transform the sun’s energy into chlorophyll through the process of photosynthesis.
Chlorophyll is known as the ‘life-blood’ of the plants. This important phytonutrient is what your cells need to heal and to thrive. Drinking wheatgrass juice is like drinking liquid sunshine.
The high content of oxygen in chlorophyll helps deliver more oxygen to the blood. Oxygen is vital to many body processes, especially for the brain which uses 25% of the oxygen supply. This high oxygen helps support a healthy body.
Note: For more information about raw juice and wheatgrass, refer to the DTD Power of Raw Juicing ebook.
Note: Since bottled vegetable juices at health food stores are pasteurized, these bottled juices provide very little if any health benefits.