The results are in. As suspected, my November 17, 2019 blood test results thrust me into diabetes range. My fasting glucose measured 10.8 (anything greater than 7.0 mmol/L after an 8-hour fast can be used as a provisional diagnosis of diabetes mellitus). My Hemoglobin A1C level was 9.2 (anything greater than 6.5 indicates diabetes).
Even though I knew the results would be higher than normal, I was hopeful that I’d remain “pre-diabetic”. Now, there it was in black-and-white and I was gripped with the fear of possible complications: heart attack, kidney disease, dialysis, blindness, amputated limbs… How did this happen? More importantly, how to fix it?
A huge fan of health-and-lifestyle documentaries and literature, I have come to know those who are prominently involved in promoting nutrition as medicine: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease). Dr. Colin Campbell (The China Study). Dr. Dean Ornish (Program for Reversing Heart Disease). Dr. Neil Barnard (Program for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs). Dr. Joel Fuhrman (Eat to Live; The End of Diabetes) and Dr. Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org). There’s also Robby Barbaro and Cyrus Khambatta co-founders of the Mastering Diabetes program. ALL of these pioneers advocate whole-food plant-based nutrition for optimal health.
The information they collectively provide points to study after study after study: a low-fat whole-food plant-based diet may prevent and even reverse certain health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. I know in my own heart that I have to try it. The last thing I want is more medication – starting with the traditional metformin – as I am already taking an anti-coagulant and rate drug for atrial fibrillation, plus a heart pressure pill. My doctor has agreed to let me try nutrition and lifestyle changes first. I must monitor my blood glucose with a glucose meter at home. If the numbers rise consistently, I will have to take the drug. Otherwise, I will check in with another blood test in three months.
The plan, then, is to eat a low-fat, whole-food plant based diet. This means:
- No animal products including eggs and dairy
- No processed foods, even if they are vegan
- No added sugar, salt or oil
- No alcohol, fruit juice or caffeine
I think I can do all of these things except the caffeine. One cup should be OK.
I also need to add exercise to my sedentary day, where it’s not impossible to sit 8 to 10 hours at my desk job. My goal is a minimum of one hour of exercise every day, even if the best I can do is a brisk walk.
While it all may sound a bit daunting, I’m very motivated here at the start. Is this sustainable over time? Will this work at all? I will be tracking my efforts here on the blog.