Vegetarian Diet for Lower Blood Sugar
Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
And so betwixt them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
We use the word “fat” to mean any kind of lipid or oil. There are two main ways to produce energy in a cell, from carbohydrates, or fats. (Protein makes glucose first). People with type II (T2DM) are often told they need to do a ketogenic diet, using mostly fat for energy. Considered a low carbohydrate and high fat diet, people eat lots of meat for the KETO diet. It’s not new; as you can see from Jack Sprat’s wife; it has been around for centuries. Interestingly, around the turn of the last century, before there were drugs for epilepsy the best treatment was a ketogenic diet. It not only prevented seizures in children, but it would also heal their brains, so they stopped having them altogether. It is still used for children with epilepsy who don’t respond to medications.
Then, in the 1970s a book by Dr. Robert Atkins[i] advocated a ketogenic diet for weight loss. He told people they didn’t need to restrict calories at all. They would have a bacon, sausage, and cheese omelet in the morning with cream to drink. On such diets, people have lost weight and are generally able to keep it off, until they go off it. But there are no long-term studies because it’s hard to maintain it. The keto diet works because the person does not eat enough carbohydrates for the body to maintain a normal metabolism, forcing the cells to burn fat for energy as in “starvation mode.”
This way of burning fat may cause problems on a long-term basis. Traditionally, keto diet includes eating few plants. Since many nutrients come from plants, there are several issues that may show up, including vitamin C and K deficiencies. B-vitamins might also be an issue. Eating a high fat diet also make the blood vessels susceptible to damage on “cheat days,” when consuming sugar. In fact, cheat days are likely to be unhealthy in a variety of ways.It’s better not to have any sugar, or even the taste of sweet, if you are trying to burn fat on a ketogenic diet.
High fat diets also decrease the energy in muscles which may impair exercise ability, especially in competitive sports. Fat, it turns out, causes insulin resistance in the muscles of the body. The cells are not able to take up sugar, so any glucose in the diet stays in the blood longer, raising the blood sugar. The higher blood sugar tells the pancreas to put out more insulin resulting in insulin resistance. Without oil in the diet, it would be very hard to become insulin resistant. In fact, a very high carbohydrate diet that is low in fat will improve insulin sensitivity.
FAT AND SUGAR
…butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. (Isaiah 7:22)
Jack Sprat and his wife had it right. It seems that the primary problem is mixing sugar and fat. It isn’t just one of them, but rather eating both together that cause the epidemic of high blood sugar in the United States and the world. This is why either diet works. Either you cut out the fat, or the sugar, and your insulin resistance, or the need for insulin, goes down respectively. It’s not that carbs are bad, or fats are bad, but rather the mixture of them that causes insulin resistance and all the illnesses associated with it.
There are no natural foods that are high in both carbs and fat. Fruit is full of sugar, but there is no fat – except avocadoes which are high in fat but have very little sugar. Meat is high in fat, but there is no sugar. Nuts that have fat are low-carb, and beans are high carb, but low fat. It’s when we put the fat and carbs together that we get high blood sugar, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, heart disease, and other metabolic problems. We take a perfectly good potato and slather it with butter or sour cream or fry it in oil. Chips and other fried foods are carbs that become filled with oil. Desserts like ice cream, chocolate, frosting, cake, and cookies are mostly sugar and oil. Using sweet sauces like ketchup and BBQ sauce on meats makes them unhealthy. These days, even gravy has a lot of sugar. Bread is good, until we put butter, avocado, or oil on it. Pasta with tomatoes is great, until we pour olive oil on it. Even salads are filled with both fat and sugar in the dressings used to make them tasty.
JACK SPRAT AND HIS WIFE AS VEGETARIANS
Those who are vegetarian can split up these fats and sugars and maintain a normal blood sugar. One is to cut out the carbs, the other is to avoid fat, since mixing them is the problem. It’s easy to separate them since no natural food is high in both. Let’s look at these two diets to find out which is better.
The first is the vegetarian ketogenic diet.
This might seem impossible since plants are made of carbohydrates. However, most plants do not have digestible carbohydrates. The fiber in plants does not contribute to the sugar in the diet because bacteria digest it in the colon, and it is not absorbed by the intestines. Fiber doesn’t even count towards your carbohydrates in a day. We call this “net carbs” where we take the total carbs and subtract the fiber to find out how much sugar is in the food. There are plenty of plant foods that are low in “net carbs.”
The other is a low-fat vegetarian diet.
This is sort of the opposite. You can eat all the carbs you want but avoid fat. This diet includes fruit, vegetables, and grains of all kinds, except those that contain large amounts of fat, such as walnuts, coconuts, or avocadoes. The best way to do this is with a whole food diet. It includes whole grains, beans, and fruit.
|VEGETARIAN LOW FAT
|Nuts and seeds
|Grains (Brown rice, Corn, Whole wheat)
|Roots (Carrot, beets, potato, Yam, Sweet potato)
|Legumes (Beans, Peas, Lentils)
|Whole Yogurt (unflavored)
|Whole grain bread and pasta
|Any Fruit – except avocado
|Salads with vinegar and spices
|Salads with vinegar and oil dressing
The following are available on both diets because they are both low fat and low carb: