Rosa Gonzalez knew firsthand about the disasters of type-2 diabetes–a condition that results when your body stops responding normally to insulin, a hormone that pulls sugar from the bloodstream into cells, where it’s used for energy. Her uncle lost a leg to the disease; he’s one of the 61,000 people a year with diabetes who have a limb amputated because of nerve damage to legs and feet. Her aunt was on dialysis–a four-hour mechanical cleansing of the blood that took place three times a week–because type-2 diabetes had destroyed her kidneys. And every day her mother had to inject herself with the glucose-lowering hormone insulin to control advanced diabetes.
Then, at age 45, it seemed like it was Gonzalez’s turn for metabolic misery when she got the results from a routine blood test. Her A1C–a measure of long-term blood-sugar levels–was 14 percent (5 percent or lower is normal); her “bad,” artery-clogging LDL cholesterol was 153 (less than 100 is optimal); and at 5-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Rosa was officially obese. A follow-up test showed her fasting blood-sugar level was nearing 400 mg/dl (less than 100 is normal). The obvious diagnosis: type-2 diabetes. The prescribed solution: a three-drug cocktail of Glumetza (metformin), an oral drug to lower blood sugar; a statin to lower LDL cholesterol; and a diuretic to lower blood pressure.
However, Gonzalez refused these drugs–and her most recent blood test revealed a healthy A1C of 5 percent and an LDL of 78. She also dropped 80 pounds and went from a size 18 to a size 6. How did these seemingly miraculous changes happen without her taking these three medications faithfully? Gonzalez went on a low-fat, vegan diet–one that cured her diabetes and regenerated her health.
“About a year after starting the vegan diet, I had a routine appointment with my doctor, and he was floored,” says the Fredericksburg, Virginia, mom, now 47. “He told me that I no longer had diabetes. Of course, he wanted to know how I had reversed my diabetes–and I told him I owed my health to Dr. Barnard and his vegan diet, which gave me my life back.”
Next: Diet’s role in diabetes