I was born in 1955 on an island in the middle of the Atlantic in the Azores, a beautiful archipelago of nine islands that is part of the Portuguese government. Life on the island was very quiet and isolated from the rest of the world. Our diet consisted of grains, legumes, vegetables, fish and pork. When I turned 13 my parents decided to come of the US to give me a better life and opportunities that I did not have on the Island.
Life in the US was definitely very different than life on the islands, meat and processed foods were abundant and we now could have red meat every day. Back on the island we only had red meat as a celebration, specifically a catholic feast only held a few times a year. Diabetes was predominant on my mother’s side of the family, most had this affliction much later on in life.
As I turned 49 years old during a visit with my doctor he told me that my sugars were high and that I needed to control my diet. Not knowing what he meant, since he did not explain it, I felt that I would cut out the donuts and things would get better. I had gone from 125lbs when in my 20’s to 165lbs. Four months later, December 23rd 2004 my doctor decided that I was not controlling my diet properly (I guess the cutting out the donuts didn’t help) and he diagnosed me as a type 2 diabetic, plus some other ailments such as a fatty liver, enlarged prostate, etc. He prescribed Metformin to be taken two times per day. My question to him was, “What can I do to educate myself about Diabetes in order to better control it?” He told me of a program at a nearby hospital funded by insurance companies and run by dieticians. I enrolled in the program. It was educational, they encouraged eating more protein to lower high sugars, they also encouraged more exercise and eating less white flour, etc, etc.
After following this regimen I visited my doctor. I always had a blood test prior to my visits to discuss my progress during the visit. My A1C was up and he prescribed more medication, Avandia twice daily and Lipitor to lower my Cholesterol. Needless to say this did not make me happy. I hated taking pills and I started to look into curing myself, including scanning the web for solutions, I found a few doctors promoting their supplements such as Dr. Mercola but nothing worked. The search continued into 2007, I was reading books such as “The Secret”, “The Law of Attraction”, etc. One day at work I was telling someone that I had finally made up my mind and my goal in life was to find a cure for type 2 Diabetes. I did not accept this disease.
A few days later, at the end of August 2007 on my way to work, listening to XM radio, I tuned to the Oprah station and Dr. Oz was interviewing Dr. Neal Barnard. Dr. Barnard was promoting his book “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”. It caught my interest and I turned up the volume. He was talking about this Vegan thing as a way to reverse Diabetes. What he was describing made sense to me. The most important thing was that he was not promoting a product. As a matter of fact, he disclosed the secret. I got to work very excited and told my colleague that I had found the cure.
This happened on a Friday and I devoted my weekend to researching this Vegan diet, what I found out was not good, giving up all animal products. Wow, what would I eat?
I made a commitment to try this Vegan diet for 4 months. It started to work almost immediately. My sugars started to drop, my energy levels were thru the roof, my weight was down, I felt great, and I started to eliminate my medications one pill at a time. By November I was living without medications and decided to make an appointment with my doctor. It happened to be in January 2008. As always, I went for the blood test first. A week before my appointment I received the test results… my A1C had gone from a 6.5 with medications to 4.9 without, and my cholesterol was down from over 220 to 146. This was the first time that I could not wait to see the doctor.
My appointment day finally came; I sat nervously waiting for my doctor to walk in. He walked in, checked the chart, compared it to previous pages, and turned to me and said “This is incredible control!” I said “Yes Doctor, especially when I no longer take medications”. He reached back to find the stool. I think his legs were buckling and he said “What is it that you are doing?” I told him that I was a Vegan. He thought that it was fantastic and reminded me that this was adding years to my life. I told him how I liked adding years in the middle not the end. I suggested he tell his Diabetes patients, he said that it was too extreme and they would not do it. I continued to see him another couple of visits and all my other numbers were continuing to improve also.
It has been the best three and half years of my life I am celebrating my 56th birthday in two months, I now weigh 130lbs and I feel more energetic than I can ever remember. I have become a passionate promoter of eating a whole foods plant based diet. I love being a Vegan.
Guest Blog Post From Carlos