Fifteen years ago, John Havay was called into his boss’ office and told that his blood glucose at his most recent doctor’s appointment was over 700 mg/dL, and was promptly rushed to the hospital.
At the hospital, John was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Like many people in his shoes, John was prescribed both Glipizide and Metformin to help manage these symptoms of insulin resistance, and was not given thorough information on how to change his diet.
As tends to happen, John increased his dosage of medication over time, and about 7 years ago, he began adding basal insulin (Lantus) as well as Victoza to his daily regimen.
Despite taking both oral medication and insulin, the symptoms of insulin resistance did not abate. John’s blood glucose averaged around 200 mg/dL and he his A1c hovered at 13.8%.
John’s sister had heard of Dr. Ronald Weiss – a primary care physician in New Jersey who uses plant-based nutrition as the first line of medical care – and suggested that John set up a consultation to learn more about how he could use food as medicine to not only manage but reverse type 2 diabetes (and the corresponding symptoms of insulin resistance) altogether.
Although John was skeptical, peripheral neuropathy had become incredibly painful, and he decided that he was willing to try anything that could possibly help improve his overall health. He called Ethos Health and set up an appointment with Dr. Weiss.
Dr. Weiss taught John about the true cause of type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance), and how he could reverse it by changing his diet to 100% whole-food, plant-based nutrition.
He learned that diabetes is not caused by carbohydrates, but rather by an accumulation of fat inside muscle cells. By removing animal products and high-fat foods from his diet, John could stop eating himself towards increasing insulin sensitivity and instead reverse the symptoms of insulin resistance altogether.
The next day, John started a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet. He started eating a pound of leafy green vegetables and a pound of fruit every day, along with oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains, sweet potatoes, beans, and lentils.
Within 3 days, John’s fasting blood glucose had dropped to below 100. He was able to stop using ALL of his medications, including his blood pressure medication.
In time, his chronic cough disappeared, and the edema he had been experiencing disappeared as well. In addition, John stopped using allergy medications to control his allergies.
And his debilitating neuropathy pain? In the past 8 months since starting a plant-based diet, John has only experienced neuropathy 5 times (in comparison to 5 episodes per week on his previous diet).
Today, the symptoms of insulin resistance are almost completely reversed.
His A1c is 6.0%, and it continues to improve. Both John and Dr. Weiss feel confident that his A1c will decrease to below 5.7% very soon, with his ultimate goal being to keep it below 5.7% for 1 year (and onward) so that he can officially say that he has reversed type 2 diabetes.
Before low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition, John was ready to give up on life. He lived in pain and had little hope for improvement in his metabolic health.
Today, he has a renewed vigor for life and enjoys every day, motivated to continue improving his health.
For the first time in years, rather than looking to the future with dread and fear, John is truly excited for what the future has in store.
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Tara Kemp is the Director of Nutrition Education at Mastering Diabetes. She has been active in the field of health and nutrition for many years, including working with Forks Over Knives, Engine 2, and Dr. Neal Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Tara has a bachelor's degree in Education from Bucknell University, a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell, and is a Certified Food For Life Instructor through the Physicians Committee.
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