Nancy Baughn had tried everything. She counted carbs and weighed her food. She checked her blood sugars and visited her doctor. But after an eight-year battle with type 2 diabetes, those blood sugars were only getting worse.
“I had two friends with diabetes and they were already on kidney dialysis and starting to lose their eyesight. Once already had his leg amputated below the knee. I had this horrible feeling that my diabetes was just a slow, progressive death sentence. So, I was willing to look at any alternative out there.”
Luckily, Nancy did find an alternative. It came while she was drinking her morning coffee and reading the Washington Post.
“Struggling with diabetes?” The words jumped off the page. “Join a clinical study to discover how a plant-based diet impacts diabetes control.”
A plant-based diet? Nancy thought. Now that’s something I haven’t tried. But I’ve been so careful with the American Diabetes Association diet. Could this really be more effective?
Nancy was afraid to get her hopes up but decided to call anyway. Within a few weeks, her plant-based makeover had begun. Her pantry and fridge were bursting with kale, tomatoes, beans, rice, peaches, grapes, and other whole, plant-based foods.
The rules of the study were simple. Nancy was required to eat foods that were:
*Plant-based (no animal products)
*Low in fat
*Low in refined sugars (low-glycemic index)
Nancy was thrilled that she didn’t have to count carbs or calories anymore:
“On the ADA diet, I had to weigh and measure and keep track of exchanges. But with a plant-based diet, if you eat just plainly, you can eat what you want. You’re not measuring, you’re not weighing. I just found it a much simpler way to cook and eat. And the food is very satisfying. I never felt hungry. I was enjoying food more than ever.”
The program was simple enough to follow. But was it working? Absolutely.
“Almost immediately upon starting this diet, I noticed that I felt better. I could tell my blood glucose numbers were dropping, because, of course, I checked them a number of times a day. At the beginning of the study, I weighed 196 pounds and my Hemoglobin A1C was 8.4 This placed me at a high risk for heart disease, stroke, and other diabetes complications. Less than four months later, the number had dropped to 5.4, and I was also losing weight. So, I needed to cut back my medications dramatically.”
Nancy was shocked to discover that the new diet also came with several very unexpected health benefits. With more energy than she knew what to do with, she started skipping her usual afternoon nap. Her joint pain vanished, and she noticed improvements in her mood.
By the end of the 18-month study, Nancy had lost 48 pounds and no longer fit the diagnostic criteria for diabetes. The study was over, but Nancy’s new lifestyle was not.
“Of course, there was no way I wanted to go back to the old way. I knew that this change of life was nothing but positive for me. The effects had been amazing, healthy, and rapid. The study ended about 10 years ago, but I’ve been following the guidelines ever since. At my last checkup, my doctor told me, ‘You know, I wish everybody’s numbers were as perfect as yours.’ I’m kind of proud of that, because I’m 74 years old now.”
(Submitted by Betty Dean. Used by permission from www.lifeandhealth.org. Courtesy of LifeSpring – Resources for Hope and Healing Stuart, VA)