There are many books on diabetes topics, like getting diabetes, controlling diabetes, living with diabetes, and even quite a few on how to reverse diabetes. And Dr. Jason Fung’s new book, The Diabetes Code, puts more pieces of the diabetes puzzle together than all the books I’ve ever read on the subject. Dr. Fung paints a clear picture of the disease, its history, its treatments, why most treatments fail, and why some treatments do more damage than the disease itself. He finishes off his story with what he says is the most effective way to improve your symptoms and rid your body of this disease without surgery.
For readers who’ve already sought the answer to reversing diabetes, The Diabetes Code will cover some basic ground at first. I recommend you be patient and read every word instead of skipping ahead to what may be new areas for you. Dr. Fung clearly defines the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, showing them to be the body’s problems with insulin from opposite perspectives and for opposite reasons. He explains why insulin is exactly what is needed in Type 1 diabetes because the body isn’t producing enough of it, and exactly why it isn’t needed in Type 2 diabetes, where the problem is too much insulin or insulin resistance.
Dr. Fung’s 2016 best-selling book The Obesity Code explored the problems people develop when gaining and carrying excess weight, and why. This new book is a companion to The Obesity Code, as his findings show how excess fat and diabetes are closely related.
Dr. Fung discusses how Type 2 diabetes has become an epidemic, the differences between the two types of diabetes, and the whole-body effect of the disease, including: heart disease, visual damage from retinopathy, neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, skin and nail conditions, erectile dysfunction, fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and what may someday be called Type 3 diabetes: Alzheimer’s disease.
The Diabetes Code focuses on the relationship between obesity and diabetes, what insulin does for your body, and how hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are related problems. The first is a condition of high levels of insulin compared to glucose levels in the blood. Insulin resistance is the body’s response to hyperinsulinemia. This means the body is no longer responding to the insulin which is supposed to trigger glucose storage in cells. Increasing the body’s insulin levels through medication in this situation is more likely to increase the resistance to insulin than anything else.
Citing the effects of large amounts of sugar in modern diets as a clear link to Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Fung gives detailed information about how the body processes sugar and fructose and their connection to insulin resistance. People with metabolic syndrome may exhibit one or more of these conditions, including: high levels of insulin resistance, fatty liver, high triglyceride levels, low LDL, high blood pressure, and high glucose levels. Having one of these factors increases the chances of having more of them.
Dr. Fung also discusses the most common treatments for diabetes and why they don’t work. His work presents the question: how is adding more insulin a good solution when doctors know that diabetes is often connected to excess weight and that insulin commonly causes more weight gain, and when the problem is too much insulin in your blood to begin with.
To those who ask the question, “Is diabetes reversible?” Dr. Fung looks at evidence learned from research on Type 2 diabetes after bariatric surgery. In nearly all cases of bariatric surgery, evidence of Type 2 diabetes has disappeared. This shows that diabetes is reversible. Since he already learned that standard medicinal and lifestyle treatments (low fat, low calorie diets) fail to successfully treat the disease, with this knowledge he began his research to see if these same results could be naturally achieved without surgery.
In studying carbohydrate-reduced diets, Dr. Fung uses the metaphor of a flooded home. Do you spend all your energy mopping it up and getting bigger buckets, or do you find the source and turn the water off? Using the higher-fat Mediterranean diet as a basis he saw that people eating higher saturated fat diets show lower rates of heart disease.
While reduced symptoms of diabetes was an improvement, Dr. Fung began his research into combatting and reversing insulin resistance through fasting. Fasting has been used for physical and spiritual healing for centuries. While most of us have tried or known someone who did a cleanse which involved some level of fasting, Dr. Fung is suggesting the idea of intermittent fasting in an effort to lower insulin resistance. If you’re a person who used to drink one cup of coffee a day and now you drink 2, 3, or 4, you can understand your body’s resistance to this chemical. You are suffering from diminishing returns where you get less and less from more and more. The same goes for insulin. By shutting down insulin production through intermittent fasting for 30 to 36 hours you give your body a chance to naturally lower your levels and keep them at tolerable levels.
Fasting is not an easy thing to do the first time out. Everyone has their own responses and comfort levels and Dr. Fung suggests different ways to make fasting days pass easier. The most important factor is drinking water. Staying hydrated is crucial to the success of intermittent fasting and your overall physical health.
Before you change your diet or start a fasting plan, Dr. Fung suggests you consult your doctor regarding blood sugar testing along with taking medications and adjusting of medications. Do not make these decisions yourself.
Without going multiple days or weeks, as some fasts do, Dr. Fung shows how intermittent fasting gives your body a break. It will improve the effects of a fatty liver and allow your system to reset or rebalance so insulin resistance becomes a thing of the past.
To cap off his book, Dr. Fung includes two sample eating plans for 30-hour and 36-hour diets. The suggested foods are part of a low-carbohydrate, healthy-fat diet. If you have favorite meals that meet these parameters, work them into your eating plan between fasts.
It’s important that you don’t get stuck on the meal suggestions simply because there’s something you don’t like, or some weird ingredient put into a recipe so an author can call it their own. If you don’t like arugula, switch it out for your favorite lettuce or some greens that you do like. You can usually dump the odd ingredient and your meal will be fine.
This is your life and your body and Dr. Fung’s goal in writing The Diabetes Code was to help you heal your body naturally and put diabetes in your past. Good luck and may your fast go fast.