The Eastern Orthodox Fast – An Answer to Diabetes

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The Eastern Orthodox Fast – An Answer to Diabetes

A Post By Rita Madden, MPH, RD

In 2011 the Center for Disease Control estimated that approximately 26 million Americans currently had diabetes, and an estimated 79 million were classified as pre-diabetic.  The sad truth is that studies show that 85% of these people don’t even know that they are in this category.  Unfortunately, since these numbers are on the rise on a global level, this epidemic should concern us all!

Current Research

A detailed review of the scientific literature indicates that a vegan diet (one free of animal products: meat, fish, dairy and eggs) that is low in sugar and fats may yield some promising results.  A plant-derived diet that is low in sugar may improve insulin sensitivity and a heavily laden meat diet may cause the body to be more resistant to insulin’s actions.

In addition, this way of eating has also shown promise for those who are at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and/or high triglycerides. In addition this approach to eating has benefit for cancer prevention, cancer survivors and weight loss.

In fact, a recent study looked at 99 people with type 2 diabetes. One group was following a vegan diet, that was also designed to be low-fat and low-sugar. The other group was following the standard American Diabetes Association diet.

After 22 weeks this is what the results indicated:

Medications (insulin and glucose-control pills)

43% in the vegan group were able to get off or least reduce their medications. This was compared to 26% in the standard ADA group.

A1C

The A1c of the vegan group dropped 1.23 points where the ADA group dropped .38 points.

Weight Loss

The vegan group lost on average 14 pounds per person compared to the 6.8 average ADA group.

These are exciting results to see by simply following the way Eastern Orthodox Tradition outlines for us when it comes to the food end of fasting!

Fasting with non-insulin dependent, type 2 diabetes

If you are a type 2 diabetic who struggles with continually elevated blood sugars, here are some tips to aid you in fasting.  God willing these tips may also benefit blood sugar control (Consult your spiritual father and medical physician).

  • On a regular basis choose fiber rich foods such as: Pumpernickel, rye, barley, oats, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, vegetables, and fruits.
  • When you do eat pasta cook it to the point of al dente as pasta prepared in this manner has been shown to slow the rise in blood sugar.
  • When having foods that tend to raise blood sugar quite rapidly (ie: white rice and white potatoes) first and foremost have them only on occasion and have them with a food that contains fat or protein to slow down the rapid blood sugar rise.
  • When having fruit as a snack consider having half the piece of fruit with some nuts or seeds (or nut or seed butters) to control sugar intake and rapid rise.
  • Consider using vinegar based dressings and choose lemon water for your beverage at meals. Acid in food slows down stomach emptying, which slows the rate that carbohydrates are digested.  Increasing the acidity during meals may help lead to a more stable blood sugar response.
  • Cinnamon and cloves have shown some promise with inflammation and blood sugar control.  Try 1/2 an apple with nut butter and cinnamon.  Delicious too!
  • Stress management and regular movement are important for blood sugar control and overall prevention/disease management too. Fit in short bursts of exercise when you can.

This year as we re-dedicate ourselves to fasting to surrender to God’s will; let’s place an emphasis on choosing foods and lifestyle behaviors that aid in disease control and management. When we commit to caring for our body it allows us to feel healthier and more energetic. With this new found energy and we may find ourselves attending more services and serving others in need. When we put God first, health falls into place.  

2 Comments

  1. Lefki Philippou says:

    Hi
    Thanks for all the information. Do you have any tips for Type 1 diabetics? I know that all you have said is beneficial for Type 1’s too.

  2. Cynthia Damaskos says:

    Hello Lefki, I do have some good info for Type 1 diabetics, but you’re right, I haven’t really written anything on it. The emerging science is very exciting…as in…turning it around even. They are finding that in some people, they can pinpoint why the body isn’t producing insulin, and fix it! I will write more in the future and include links. But, you are also right, what I’ve written about Type 2 is beneficial as well. Stay tuned, and I will get on top of a post for you!

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