Plant-based diet can reverse Type 2 diabetes, M.E.T.I. says

A plant-based diet can put people suffering from Type 2 diabetes on a path to recovery, says the Executive Director of the Matuaileoo Environment Trust Incorporation (M.E.T.I.),  Dr. Walter Vermeulen.

Dr. Vermullen makes the point in a column published in the Samoa Observer where he argues that Type 2 diabetes is reversible if the patient is willing to follow a plant-based diet.

"We have on many occasions printed testimonies of people that followed the whole food, plant-based diet – the M.E.T.I. diet - which in a matter of weeks turned around or as we say ‘reversed’ their Type 2 diabetes," he said.

"Not just the diabetic condition itself but also its dreaded complications like loss of vision or draining leg or foot wounds that could have led to amputation. 

“All this allows us to say loud and clear: diabetes and its complications can be reversed. Let me repeat this: Type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition and not one that is incurable.”

He added that the strict plant-based diet also means staying away from animal-based products and oil and embracing fruits, vegetables and legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and whole grain.

Emphasising the importance of plants and how the process of photosynthesis extracts fat, protein and sugar from living plants, Dr Vermeulen described it as a powerful complex process that works like a “nuclear reactor.”

"Living plants take the energy of the sun and transform it into life through the process of photosynthesis. [The sun’s energy is first turned into simple sugars, then into more complex sugars, fats and proteins].”

“The site at which photosynthesis takes place is a bit like a nuclear reactor. Photosynthesis is a high-powered and complex activity driven by the exchange of electrons between atoms and molecules.

“These electrons zooming around in the plant that are changing the sunlight into chemical energy must be managed very carefully. 

“If they stray from their rightful places, they may create ‘free radicals’, which can wreak havoc in the plant. 

“You could compare it to the core of a nuclear reactor leaking radioactive materials [free radicals] that can be very dangerous for the surrounding areas.”

According to Dr. Vermeulen, plants can protect themselves from the free radicals by producing chemicals called antioxidants, which form a shield around them and sponge up the highly reactive free radicals. 

The antioxidants are almost exclusively found in plants, and are responsible for the unique colors of fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Vermeulen then thoroughly explained the whole process that occurs during the reaction and its effect on a human body.

He said during the reaction the oxygen molecule gets split into its oxygen atoms, which can develop into free radicals. 

“Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons, which make them unstable, short lived and highly reactive,” he added.

“Because of their high reactivity, they can detach electrons from other compounds to attain stability. In turn, the attacked molecule that lost its electron becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction which finally damages the living cell. 

“To stop this chain reaction, antioxidant compounds are required to sponge up these highly reactive free radicals. However, if there are not enough antioxidants around, the body goes into ‘oxidative stress’, which is defined as an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body.”

He also explained its effect on other various types of molecules and emphasised that the antioxidants work the same way in plants and the human body.

"Free radicals can adversely affect various important classes of biological molecules such as nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins, thereby altering their normal functioning, leading to increased oxidative stress. 

“The free radicals induced oxidative stress has been reported to be the underlying cause of several diseased conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis and hypertension), neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple sclerosis), respiratory diseases (asthma), cataract development, rheumatoid arthritis, various cancers and rapid aging.”

Fortunately antioxidants work in human bodies the same way they work in plants, which Dr. Vermeulen said is the reason behind the need to have an antioxidants-rich diet, which can help neutralize free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

“By eating the whole food plant-based diet, you can boost your blood levels of antioxidants and reap their many health benefits. We hope this scientific explanation will help you to stick to the whole food plant-based diet if you suffer from any of these dreadful non-communicable diseases."

Dr. Vermeulen added that the public or those who feel they are sick can contact them on telephone 30550 or go to the M.E.T.I. Headquarters at House No. 51 at Motootua.

The column on plant-based diet and its link to the eradication of Type 2 diabetes was published in full in the Friday 23 October 2020 edition of the Samoa Observer.

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