Reading Joel Fuhrman, M.D.’s incredible new book, The End of Diabetes: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes (HarperCollins Publishers, 2012), was both a bittersweet and hopeful experience for me. It was difficult because the first anniversary of my father’s death from complications of diabetes had just passed, and by reading it, I revisited my feelings of helplessness as I watched him suffer from this horrible disease. That being said, I am deeply appreciative of Dr. Fuhrman for having written this book because it will undoubtedly save the lives of many other people who adopt his guidelines to prevent and reverse diabetes.
The statistics tell us that we should all be worried about this chronic illness because it is likely that many of us will either have prediabetes or diabetes ourselves, or will have a close friend or family member diagnosed with it. Consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 26 million Americans have diabetes (11.3% of adults), and nearly 80 million (35% of adults) have prediabetes. If the trend continues, an extraordinary one in three American adults could have diabetes by 2050. It would not be hyperbolic to call this an epidemic.
So what exactly is diabetes? Stated simply, it occurs when there is too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Dr. Fuhrman explains that with the most common type that afflicts Americans, type 2 diabetes, this condition is a result of the body’s failure to respond adequately to the insulin that is produced for the very purpose of taking glucose out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells where it is used for energy. The insulin is there, but the body is not using it properly. And the implications are drastic. Diabetic patients are at higher risk for serious medical complications, including heart disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, amputations, and cancer. Typical treatments include medications that may ease some of the effects of the condition, but do not treat what Dr. Fuhrman reports is the root cause of diabetes: excess body fat.
With the plant-based dietary approach and a call for daily exercise outlined in The End of Diabetes, Dr. Fuhrman claims that, in most cases, patients can reduce the need for medication, and even reverse type 2 diabetes completely. For someone newly diagnosed, or for the patient currently suffering, The End of Diabetes may be nothing short of a miracle, with its guidance on how to improve the body’s ability to handle glucose while actually reducing medications. In addition to being an important resource for patients, the book also includes a commentary for physicians looking for effective treatments.
I first discovered Dr. Fuhrman just over two years ago – a few months after I had gone vegan – when I heard Colleen Patrick-Goudreau mention him on a Vegetarian Food for Thought podcast episode. Overweight and suffering from migraines and other health conditions, I was immediately intrigued. After I read his bestselling book, Eat to Live, and started following his recommendations with tremendous success, I had a true health transformation.
Although I was not suffering from diabetes (yet), it is not surprising to me that the basic guidelines for an essentially whole-food based vegan diet with the emphasis on green vegetables that is outlined in Eat to Live can, with a few refinements, also be effective in preventing and reversing diabetes. But Dr. Fuhrman does not ask you to take this on faith. For skeptics, he goes into great detail on why a high-protein diet including animal products is dangerous, and cites research that for every 5% of calories consumed from animal protein, the risk of diabetes increases by 30%. Another cited research example shows that of the more than 60,000 men and women studied, those following a vegan diet had diabetes prevalence that was only one-third of non-vegetarians. Dr. Fuhrman also addresses myths that fish and eggs are healthy components of a disease-preventing diet, and emphasizes the need for the inclusion of healthy fats from nuts and seeds.
Certainly, for someone who is not vegan and is currently eating the Standard American Diet, Dr. Fuhrman’s plan is radically different. However, desperate times call for drastic measures, and a diagnosis of diabetes should be seen by anyone as a moment of desperation. The temporary discomfort of making changes in habits and taste preferences is nothing compared to the pain and suffering that having diabetes will inflict. For those of us who are already living a lifestyle without using animal products, this book serves as further confirmation that a whole foods plant-based diet is ideal.
The sad truth is that even though this life-saving information is now available in The End of Diabetes, there are many, many people who will not take advantage of it and who will suffer needlessly. My dad was one of those patients who continued to drink soda and eat sugar- and fat-laden foods in between giving himself shots of insulin. His food addictions and inability to change cost him his life and caused enormous pain to his family and friends. For people who are looking for a way to confront their disease and take control of their health, my hope is that they will read this book and turn to a healthy, vegan diet to transform their lives.
Dr. Fuhrman has generously offered to do a book giveaway, as well as to allow Our Hen House to publish two of his recipes, one of which is being made available exclusively for flock members (now is a great time to join!). For information on how to enter the giveaway, please read on to the end.
I was eager to try making this California Creamed Kale recipe at home because it was my favorite dish served at a presentation I attended last November given by Dr. Fuhrman. The ingredients for this dish are so simple, and yet it tastes rich and flavorful. I topped my kale with chopped onions, radishes, and a dash of vinegar. Enjoy!
Recipe from The End of Diabetes by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Serves: 4 Ingredients: 2 bunches kale, tough stems removed, chopped 1 cup raw cashews 1 cup unsweetened soy, almond, or hemp milk 4 tablespoons onion flakes 1 tablespoon VegiZest or no-salt seasoning blend (optional) Directions: Place kale in a large steamer pot. Steam until soft (10 to 20 minutes). Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Place steamed kale in a colander and press with a clean dish towel to remove some of the excess water. Coarsely chop the kale, transfer it to a bowl, and mix it with the cream sauce. Note: Sauce may be used with broccoli, spinach, or other steamed vegetables.
Recipe from The End of Diabetes by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
2 bunches kale, tough stems removed, chopped
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup unsweetened soy, almond, or hemp milk
4 tablespoons onion flakes
1 tablespoon VegiZest or no-salt seasoning blend (optional)
Place kale in a large steamer pot. Steam until soft (10 to 20 minutes).
Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
Place steamed kale in a colander and press with a clean dish towel to remove some of the excess water. Coarsely chop the kale, transfer it to a bowl, and mix it with the cream sauce.
Note: Sauce may be used with broccoli, spinach, or other steamed vegetables.
Want a chance to win your own copy of The End of Diabetes: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.? We thought so! It’s easy to enter to win. Simply follow @ourhenhouse on Twitter, and tweet the following:
I read the @ourhenhouse review of @drfuhrman’s book, The End of Diabetes, by @carrieonvegan, & I wanna win a copy! http://bit.ly/15qIckn
Then, email contest [at] ourhenhouse [dot] org, tell us your mailing address and Twitter handle, and confirm that you tweeted (we’ll be checking, so no funny business!). You have until midnight EST on February 26, 2013, to get in on this. On February 27, we will randomly select a winner. You may only enter here one time (but flock members can enter the flock-only contest, too).
Speaking of … Are you a flock member? If so, be sure to check out another bonus recipe – this one for “Cauliflower, Spinach Mashed ‘Potatoes’” – as seen in The End of Diabetes by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and reprinted with permission from HarperCollins. If you’re not yet a flock member, join today! You’ll have access to exclusive content, contests, giveaways, videos, and more! Plus, you’ll be supporting Our Hen House, which is, after all, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and you’ll be eligible for some pretty sweet thank-you gifts, just for joining!
Carrie Forrest is a graduate student in public health nutrition and writes the blog Carrie on Vegan. She is also the creator of Vegan Delish, the whole-food recipe app for iPhones and iPads. Carrie lives in California with her husband, Alan, and their two cats, Roxy and Xena.