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The data are in: Eat right, reduce your risk of diabetes

January 5, 2017

About the Author

photo of Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
View all posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD


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Harveer Parmar
January 20, 2017

Very Informative article. Thanks.

glen small
January 17, 2017

Avoid all grains.

Ken Walden
February 2, 2017

wrong. Civilizations who primarily eat a whole food, plant based diets have the lowest incidence of diabetes.

January 17, 2017


January 17, 2017

what foods are good to control heart problems

Ken Walden
February 2, 2017

Whole food, plant-based diet is the ONLY diet to have been shown to prevent and sometimes reverse heart disease.
See “How to prevent and reverse heart disease” by dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic. NO other treatment has come close.

ana north
January 16, 2017

As a Physician I have a number of problems with this article – not the least of which is the lack of a clear distinction between Type one and Type two diabetes – it is true that insulin dependent diabetics can benefit from a healthy diet (can’t we all) but “Eat right, Avoid Diabetes” is flat out wrong and needs correction. I expect better from Harvard – this is not WebMD 🙂

January 16, 2017

“People who chose diets that were predominately of plant-based foods developed type 2 diabetes 20% less often than the rest of the study subjects.” Twenty percent of what? Presenting results this way (i.e., relative risk reduction) is misleading and almost always exaggerates the impact of whatever is being touted. In order to provide the true size of a benefit, the risk reduction should be presented on an absolute basis. You should know that. I expect better from Harvard.

January 16, 2017

No wonder the percentages of patients who avoided diabetes on this plant-based diet are so low! Instead, skip the grains and the high sugar fruits. Drink water, coffee, tea — no sweetened drinks. Avoid sweeteners of any sort. After a couple of weeks, you won’t miss them at all. Eat a modest serving or two a day of grassfed/pastured/wild animal protein, plenty of healthy fats & oils (olive/coconut/grassfed butter/avocado/nuts), and all the vegetables you want. Stick to low sugar fruits, like berries and apples.

Every person on this diet has either avoided or reversed diabetes. When will Harvard finally reject their corrupt pro-carbohydrate research from the past and do real research into real food? Saturated fats are not dangerous. They never were. Carbs cause high cholesterol, not fats. Nations around the world are changing their food pyramids to reflect this new research. It’s hard to take this newsletter seriously, when your information is decades old — and wrong.

Sandra Heyneman
January 16, 2017

I agree! Come on Harvard! My blood sugar and cholesterol numbers went way down when I cut bad carbs, ate lots of organic eggs, beef, chicken, nuts, whole milk and yogurt and healthy fats like coconut oil.

January 16, 2017

Totally agree–not to mention GMOs and Monsanto/chemicals in quite a bit of snack and processed foods. Time to re-think “healthy”–also exercise is important. No exercise is not an option.

Donald Morgan
January 17, 2017

The whole My Plate program is nonsense and leads to more people staying on medications for diabetes, heart disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s and so many more. You need to quit putting bad information out to the public. Unfortunately the poor public is caught in the cross hairs and they become even more confused. Do you have any idea how misconstrued our current dietary guidelines are? Very low carb is the answer and I can’t figure out why a very well respected school can’t figure that out. Please deliver the right message!

ken walden
February 2, 2017

To read about effect of whole-food plant based diet on diabetes see;
China Study by T. Colin Campbell
Dr. John McDougal’s website. Search diabetes.
Dr. Michael Greger’s website;
Dr. Neil Barnards books.

Civilization grew up on primarily starch based diets, ie, rice, potatoes, wheat, other whole grains. The incredibly high incidence of diabetes is a recent result of the SAD (standard American diet). Diabetes was virtually unknown decades ago until SAD came into their diets. China used to have one of the lowest rates of diabetes. Now, with the introduction of the SAD to their diet they have one of the highest rates. It’s the food…

F Ornelas
January 16, 2017

I have switched to a healthy diet and have seem the results. Measured lipids, and sugar levels before and after the change. This combined with daily 30 minutes briskly walk. The results spoke by themselves. The numbers improved a lot. I may add that cinnamon will also help to lower the HA1c, but use it wisely since you could see yourself making more trips to the bathroom.

David Vose
January 16, 2017

Do you think eating dead animals is right? First, they stink literally. Second, when you eat your dead animals do you go in the backyard to cut its throat, skin it and cut out their guts to eat?
Also, experts put protein on the bottom of the list of our needs. A mothers milk between 3% and 5% protein. Pushing protein is what marketers use to sell products. You have some learning to do.

maggie Harrison
January 17, 2017

I thoroughly agree with you. It is disgusting to eat dead animals.

January 11, 2017

The foods we eat can do more than help prevent diabetes. Eating a healthy diet can help prevent heart disease and many other diseases as well.

I do believe a plant based diet is the way to go but I often find it hard for me to stick with it.

Of course exercise does play a role but i think it is diet that is key.

Here is a wonderful article I found discussing foods that help prevent diabetes.

parul singh
January 9, 2017

you need to understand how foods and nutrition affect your body for manage your diabetes.Good health depends on eating a variety of foods that contain the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and water
Doctors of medixpres suggest the plan of diet.

Clive Burnard
January 7, 2017

I wouldn’t listen to a corrupt Harvard University which, in the early 1960s, was bribed by the sugar industry to produce bogus studies linking saturated fat with heart disease when there is no such link.

Of course, we now know that the real culprit in heart disease is in fact refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Our bodies need lots of fat to be healthy, including saturated fat. Without a lot of fat in a meal we are unlikely to feel satiated so end up overeating and his gain weight hence the low-fat, high-carbohydrate dietary (bad) advice caused the obesity epidemic. Furthermore, without the full amount of fat in dairy products our bodies are unable to absorb the fat-soluble nutrients they contain.

The best advice from a non-vested interest source is to switch back to healthy butter and whole milk and relish the delicious fat on meat.

January 16, 2017

You are absolutely right. I noticed in this article that low-fat products are still touted as the ones to eat.

Ben Fury
January 6, 2017

From the study:
“… less healthy plant foods (fruit juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes, sweets/desserts) and animal foods received reverse scores.”

That lumps so many varied foods together as to make the conclusions completely meaningless. Dumping high sugar foods in with protein/fat foods is nonsensical. Another epidemiological fail.

Roger Bird
January 5, 2017

The recommendations here will cause very limp gains for people addicted refined carbs, but you can do MUCH better by going paleo.

Dona C. Collins
January 5, 2017

Dr. Robert some great insight.

I have been in the field for over 20 years and I have to say that diabetes is on a rise and our eating habits are one of the major factors.

In fact a recent article by Elisabeth Almekinder from who is a certified diabetes educator and a registered nurse talks about it in detail.

It is surprising that at the same time an article on NYTimes says otherwise.

I found this article by Dr. Jennifer Bowers great read which I believe you fill find interesting as well which is exactly on the same topic.

Thank you
Dona C. Collins

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