Vegan diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables and other protective substances like phytochemicals and antioxidants – as a result, they fit well with the current dietary guidelines for people with diabetes. – Diabetes UK
When I was 17 my life has stop for a moment when I got seriously sick. I lost a lot of weight over a short period of time, I lost loads of my hair and was so tired and massively thirsty. I could not climb up the stairs without stopping and drinking.
I knew nothing about type 1 diabetes which is a condition when your pancreas stop producing insulin and you need to get it externally via injections.
I was admitted to the hospital until my sugar levels were balanced and I learnt how to inject insulin. I got vials and needles and off I went home totally confused.
When you are young and your life as an adult only starts you just go day by day not really thinking in the longer terms. You think that you can abuse your body and then hoping all will be ok when you grow old. But look at everyone slightly older than you, are they fit? If they are what are they doing or what were they doing few years earlier? If not, how their life has been impacted can they do all the things or spend their time looking for health solutions? What life you want to have when you are 40 and 50 and beyond. We live longer for sure but do you want to struggle with your health or have a good quality life as long as possible?
My diabetes got quite out of control mainly because of irregular lifestyle, poor sleep due to stress, putting on weight due to ad hoc diet and lack of healthy habits, skin problems and anything in between. I told myself enough is enough in 2017 and I started a challenge in 2018 January to remove all animal products from my diet.
The first few months were hell, learning about everything, reading labels at shops. My body went into detoxification my skin was even worse. I decided to stick to it and after few weeks I noticed my weight coming down and my skin getting clearer.
During that time my blood sugars were fluctuating as my body was trying to adjust to a better routine: more exercises, loads of fresh organic food, no animal fat. The sensitivity to insulin increased especially after the meals when I usually had a spike. The animal fats e.g cheese on pizza restricts your cells to accept insulin to bring the sugar level down. In other words the wrong type of lipids in your blood is quite high so if you took a blood sample and put it in the machine to separate plasma from red cells you would see it as being quite murky. People on a plant-based diet have it clear allowing insulin to work properly to stabilise the sugar levels in their blood cells. Don’t get me wrong, we need lipids, but excess of the wrong ones leads to cardiovascular disease which is number 1 killer in UK. People with diabetes are quite often on statins which is a lipid-modifying treatment. Instead of that they should be offered lifestyle changes , nutritional advice and coaching.
Blood lab tests – 2017,2018 and 2019
Overall, my health journey was not without its challenges. Below you will find my blood lab tests over the last three years. You will notice that in August they got a bit worse than in previous year that is because the old habits did kick in and probably due to stress related to change of work.
Explanation of the blood lab tests:
Hb1C – is the overall result of how the diabetes is doing over three months period; it should be as close as possible to 53 target which is normal.
BMI – healthy BMI is below 25.
Cholesterol – consist of Non-HDL (or LDL) – bad cholesterol (contributing to cardiovascular problems) and HDL – good one; bad should be the lowest possible. Healthy cholesterol is 5 or below
Triglycerides – these were not measured but they are similar to bad cholesterol and should be below 2.3
2018 they did not take the same measurements as in 2017 so I do not have the BMI and the weight which is the shame
(All in healthy levels were taken from www.nhs.uk)
My Three ways to avoid overwhelm when you switch to a plant-based diet:
- Read available resources and plan your shopping and cooking. My favourite is Bosh book – great and tried recipes and Vegan Lovelie. Check also Diabetes UK. It is important for diabetics to ensure that you have protein in each meal which will make your sugar levels balanced for a longer period of time avoiding hypos (low sugar) or hyper (high sugar) situations. The lower fat content will make your insulin work quicker and more efficient so you may need to adjust your doses. Monitor your sugar levels closely until you feel comfortable.
- When exercising ensure you check your blood sugar and if it is lower that 5.5 mmols/l eat some quick releaseing carbohydrate such as dry fruit. I usually have a date with some nut butter to ensure that my blood sugar stays balanced after low. It will take your body some time to adjust to new diet and you will be more sensitive to insulin so you may need to adjust your insulin dosage overall. I have a pump and it is easy to adjust basal rate and food dose as well.
- On a plant-based diet it is essential to take these three supplements: Vitamin B12 (people who eat meat can also be deficient due to the way the animals are farmed – they get it from the soil and grass but this is highly restricted for many animals), Vitamin D and Omega 3 with algae extract. I also take others as well mainly from Doterra as I trust the company and people who take them and see benefits such as clearer skin, more energy, and overall good health condition.
Overall, I found my health journey very rewarding. Tough at times when you need to explain to you family and friends what you do not eat and what you eat but I stick to my values and rarely took even a compromise. I did this for health reasons mainly but now I know that what keeps me going is the animal cruelty and the planet. We eat too much meat as it seems to be an easy option, otherwise what will we cook? Another thing which happend is the reduction of the portion sizes. I can simply be satisfied with the food when I am around 80% full which not I can recognize when,. The key is in the time you take to eat. Too fast and you will eat too much.
If you want to know more about healthy and happy living check the Blue Zones https://www.bluezones.com/, those are the zones where people live the longest and healthiest life and those on plant-based diet live even longer. For many of us it would be difficult to suddenly move to Blue Zones and live a healthier, but there is a lot to take on board rather than regret it when we are older. They call it a Power of Nine, with a glass of wine at 5pm which is not too bad , is it not? You can also take a longevity test. I took mine. My healthy life expectancy is 41 – which is now so very depressing; overall life expectancy 72. Oh well there is a bit more work for me to do but yes diabetes is life limiting condition.
If you are somebody looking for a healthier lifestyle, who want to loose the weight and keep it off, transfer to more pant-based diet, let’s schedule a free 45 min appointment to check if we would be a good fit and get clarity around your goals – health, career or life in general.