Book Review: "Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - 10:21am

By Cindy Guirino, RD/LD, CDE, CNSD, ACE PT

Are we on the cusp of real change? Can Dr. Barnard's revolutionary program for reversing diabetes help the 200 million people who suffer from diabetes and its debilitating complications of kidney failure, blindness, amputations, and heart disease? Dr. Barnard believes the fundamental problem in type 2 diabetes is the accumulation of tiny amounts of fat inside muscle cells which blocks insulin from opening the cell membrane and allowing glucose to enter.

Dr. Barnard has shown that a diet with no animal protein and minimal fat is the answer. This is revolutionary because it switches the focus from counting carbohydrates to focusing on the type of food in your diet. His alternative nutritional approach has been shown to reduce patients' blood sugar levels, increase their insulin sensitivity, and reduce or eliminate medications. His research report was published in the August 2006 issue of Diabetes Care and funded by the National Institute of Health.

Troubleshooting Common Diabetic Problems

Following a vegan diet is no easy task and Dr. Barnard realizes this and devotes an entire chapter to guide you through the most common problem areas: not losing weight, blood glucose not coming under control quickly enough, and cravings. He suggests you pick out a 3-week period and follow the program to the letter. If you need additional help, he suggests you find a registered dietitian who is certified in diabetes education and skilled in the use of vegetarian diets. Once you see the results firsthand, you'll want to stick with the program for a lifetime.

A Menu with Health Benefits

The book is complete with tasty menus and recipes developed by Bryanna Clark Grogan, a veteran chef and food writer. My personal favorite is the Lemon and Artichoke Tagine (Moroccan Stew). The menus allow for three meals and a snack. The plant-based diet requires no counting of calories or restricting nutritious carbohydrates. Portion sizes are excluded because the focus is on what you eat and not on how much. Not only will the meals help you reverse diabetes, but they also will help you lower your cholesterol, decrease your triglycerides, and reduce your blood pressure. The book also provides useful resources and online sources of cooking ingredients.