There is perhaps no medical condition that responds so well to a whole foods plant-based diet than type 2 diabetes. It is a nutritional disorder caused by the high fat, protein rich Western diet. Take away the cause and the disease will get better. Early diabetes and pre-diabetes can be completely cured. There are also benefits in eating a plant-based diet for people with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is not a genetic disease. Your genes are your predisposition not your destiny. Diabetes incidence in China has gone from from less than 1% (in 1980) to 12% (in 2010) in one generation as they increasingly adopt a Western diet. A similar pattern was seen in Japan – diabetes incidence increased as the traditional staple of rice was replaced by meat, oils and processed foods. Genes and rice are not the problem.

The current medical treatment for diabetes targets blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and other biomarkers with an ever increasing number of pharmaceuticals. This approach largely fails to deal with the cause of the disease – a high protein, high fat diet deficient in whole plant foods. The underlying diabetes physiology is largely unaltered because the dietary patterns that caused the disease have not been changed. Under this approach the severity of diabetes becomes gradually worse over the years. The most effective treatment for diabetes is a high carbohydrate plant-based diet. Low carbohydrate diets are always high in fat (see Energy Pie) and while they may result in lower blood glucose levels in the short term, they only serve to maintain the diabetic state in the long term. Whole foods plant-based nutrition is an effective solution for diabetes and obesity, and the low energy density of these foods means that there is no need for small portions and food rationing.More on Diabetes Physiology

Low GI (glycaemic index) diets are promoted by many Australian health professionals. Unfortunately the low GI concept in Australia often translates into higher consumption of meat and other animal products as people cut back on all carbohydrates, including those complex carbohydrates which have only ever been associated with better health. We recommend that if you use the GI concept, you make sure you select from a range of complex carbohydrates, i.e. whole foods – fruits, vegetables (including starchy vegetables), whole grains and legumes. Beware of highly processed food and high fat foods which use the low GI health claim for marketing.More on GI


It’s Heart disease that is responsible for much of the early death and disability in diabetes, not spiralling blood sugar levels. Dr Barnard says that “diabetes makes everything else worse” and this includes Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. The nutrition that we use for diabetes must be the same nutrition that we use to prevent and manage heart disease – a low fat mostly vegan diet. The current trend towards higher (animal) protein diets for diabetes in Australia, even if it were effective, is not compatible with long term heart health.More on Heart Health


A word of warning before you start – this approach may work very quickly. If you are on insulin or other medications for diabetes and high blood pressure you should consult your doctor before you make the transition to a whole foods plant based diet.More on Transition

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Page last updated 29 July 2015