Diabetes is a disease that is now affecting over 28 million Americans. It occurs when the pancreas, the organ that is responsible for maintaining stable blood sugar levels, begins to malfunction. The pancreas, which sits just underneath and slightly behind the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone is a critical piece of the digestion process. It is released whenever we eat and its job is to help the digested sugars from our food get to our cells to feed them.
There are two types of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is more rare and is caused by autoimmune problems in which the body turns against itself and damages the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease that is completely preventable and reversible. It occurs when people consume high amounts of sugar, carbohydrate, and animal products.
In order to understand what happens when a person has diabetes, think of it like this:
The body is like a cruise ship, and the cabins where passengers stay are like cells. In this metaphor, we will say that the passengers are like the food that has been digested in the body. Just as our food needs to get inside our cells, the passengers need to get inside their cabins, and on the cruise ship every cabin has a key. The insulin secreted by the pancreas works like the cabin keys – it unlocks each cell so that the food sugars can get in and the cell can be fed.
In a person with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced does not work properly, and the sugars are not able to get into some of the cells. In our cruise ship metaphor this would be like having half the passengers unable to access their cabins due to faulty or missing keys. The result is chaos as the angry overflowing mob of passengers storm through the decks and corridors, smashing furniture, and overcrowding the lido deck.
In the body of the Type 2 diabetic this is similar to the chaos that ensues in the bloodstream as unabsorbed sugars begin to destabilize the blood, and other organs like the liver and kidneys are put into overdrive trying to reestablish homeostasis.
Type 1 diabetes is worse because there is very little insulin production. This means that the body’s cells can literally starve because there are no keys to allow digested food sugars in to feed them.
Most doctors will tell diabetics that their disease is irreversible (particularly if it is Type 1), but that it can be controlled with a variety of methods including dietary restrictions and insulin supplementation. There are a number of experts in the field of raw living foods however, that have shown how diabetes Type 2 can be reversed completely simply by following a diet of raw vegan foods. They have also shown that insulin regimens for Type 1 diabetics can be greatly reduced with the same diet.