Vegan Diabetes Summit — Day 2

Published 2.6.2017
This is the second in a series in which I will be commenting on the Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, otherwise known as the Vegan Diabetes Summit. The two hosts are vegans, as are most of the presenters. Actually, through day 2, all presenters have been vegan.

Also of note is the fact that the organizers have decided not to have the videos and audio recorders of the event expire until the end of the the last day (Thursday, February 9th at 9:00 PM Pacific time). This means that if something I wrote about the presentations below intrigues you, you can click on the link above and watch or listen for yourself.

The conceit of the summit organizers, Cyrus Khambatta and Robby Barbaro, is that both type one (T1D) and type 2 (T2D) diabetes are being covered. However, the reality for most presentations has been that the primary focus is T2D. Most diabetics are T2D, and it is T2D that is most influenced by lifestyle and eating choices. That isn't to say that T1D is never mentioned or that diet choices do not affect T1 diabetics, but most of these doctors are working with T2D patients.


If I were to summarize the summit so far in a single sentence, it would be: Carbs don't cause diabetes fat does, and just eat only plants to reverse insulin resistance (IR). In the case of T2D, the disease itself is reversed when IR is reversed, but that is not the case for T1D. For T1D, reversing IR— another way to say it is increasing insulin sensitivity— lowers the amount of insulin required for the diabetic. But there is no cure for T1D, although there is some evidence that the "honeymoon period" for newly diagnosed T1 diabetics can be extended, though that isn't a topic for today's commentary.

The talks are repetitive. Every speaker says to eat plants, and only plants. Every speaker has seen amazing transformations when diabetics adopt a high carb low fat vegan diet. None of the speakers calls it a vegan diet, instead it's a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet (WFPBD) or sometimes they drop the whole foods part and just say plant based diet (PBD). I don't know the history behind adopting the much wordier WFPBD, but considering the nonsense that ensues amongst vegans online and on Youtube, perhaps it's just as simple as not wanting to be associated with the drama and controversy.

The issues of ethics does get mentioned, which is not surprising. There are health benefits to eating mostly plants, but there deficiencies that arise from eating only plants. To their credit, most speakers are direct and definitive when it comes to the vitamin B12 issue. Vegans must supplement with B12. With that rather long winded opening, on to the Day 2 speakers.

All speakers in this summit believe that diabetes is caused by fat storage in cells other than actual fat cells— in other words fat stored in muscle cells and organs. The presence of stored fat where it doesn't belong creates IR by blocking or gumming up the insulin receptors of the cells, which allows glucose to enter the cell. This causes blood glucose levels to rise because the glucose can't gain entrance to to the cell. High blood glucose (high blood sugar) is thus a symptom of the disease, not the cause. Eating a low carb diet masks the symptom by lowering the blood glucose levels, but does not cure the disease because it doesn't reverse the IR.

I'm not kidding when I say that every speaker gave some version of the above, hence my calling it the boilerplate. What follows are notes and impressions of comments beyond the boilerplate. Note: I am not a nutritionist or medical professional. I am stating what these presenters claimed, mostly without any fact checking. When I know a statement is false, I say so. However, no endorsement is implied for statements presented without additional commentary or fact checking. [added 2.8.2017]

Neil Barnard, MD

It might be surprising that I chose to listen to Barnard, given my assessment of his performance at The Fat Summit last year. I admit, I didn't have very high hopes for the presentation and was ready to turn it off if it got too bad. However, because this was a friendly all vegan forum, Barnard and his statements were never challenged. Thus he was able to come off as less of an ideologue.

  • Says that low carb diets slow metabolism, while low fat high carb diets increase it, and that a study don't in Louisiana proved it. No reference is provided for this, however. It is true that low carbers complain more often of slow metabolisms and low body temperature, but anecdotes are not data.
  • Junk food lights up the pleasure centers, just like smoking and chocolate. Physical activity lights it up too. Music apparently does as well. Suggests that instead of reaching for junk food, go for a walk or listen to music.
  • Says exercise is not the issue, and you can't outrun your fork. However, he doesn't mention NEAT*. He does say that exercise should help, in theory.
  • His new book is “The Cheese Trap.” Because cheese is what people miss, an dit is the downfall of many a vegan. Hence all the fake vegan cheeses that are entering the market. Then he talks about the evils of Velveeta. Only a vegan would think Velveeta is cheese.
  • A long discussion about cholesterol ensues… which has little or nothing to do with diabetes.
  • The Paleo Diet™ gets slammed, though my impression is that Paleo has faded a bit in popularity. One positive thing about Paleo Diet™ is that it avoids dairy.
  • Barnard is fixated on dairy. Claims that milk has transfats, and well, everybody knows transfats are the worst.
  • Gets asked if unsaturated fat causes IR, and Barnard says, "Who knows?" If it does, then it’s to a lesser extent. Transfats are like saturated fat in terms of IR. and cholesterol.
  • He does mention B12 and says it's essential to supplement.

Hans Diehl, DrHSc

This presentation was the shortest presentation of the day, but my favorite by far. Why? Because he gave references.

  • This was not an interview, but rather a stand alone presentation that included slides. That fact made it easier for him to present the references along with graphs.
  • He went through the well known statistics on obesity prevalence and the growth in rates of T2D.
  • Cited Himsworth, who in the 1930s discovered that low fat high carb diets could be used successfully treat diabetes.
  • Also cites Pritikin, whose low fat diet could be used to reverse heart disease as well as T2D. This citation, for me, makes this presentation the most honest one of the entire summit. It is not necessary to become vegan to reverse T2D or heart disease. It may be necessary to consume a low fat diet.
  • Fiber is the magic ingredient. It's important that the carbohydrates in the diet be unrefined.

Michael Greger

Greger is the doctor behind the website, and he's written a book, How Not to Die.
  • His answer to most things is, "Eat more plants."
  • Khambatte asked him to speak about the possibility that milk consumption might related to the onset of T1D in kids, which was a topic of a series of videos he did for his site. However, Greger couldn't do so without looking at the script from those videos.
  • Essentially, it would be better to go to the site and search for the videos.
  • He talks very fast, and it’s impossible to take notes on it all or absorb it all. And watching him is annoying because he’s walking on a treadmill. I’m a huge fan of treadmill desks, but please. Stand still while you do the interview.

Michael Klaper MD

His website is

  • He is the first guy to say that fat isn’t all bad and that people actually need a small amount.
  • He's another dairy hater who grew up on a dairy farm (Neil Barnard also grew up on a dairy farm).
  • If there was one substance he could remove from patients diet would be dairy, because dairy is designed to grow baby calves as fast as possible. Dairy is also high in saturated fat.
  • Insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1) is the focus for why he says no dairy (beyond saturated fat)
  • Caseomorphones (which I have never heard of) in milk and lactose (which is sweet) make milk (including human breast milk and human babies) babies morel likely to want to continue to nurse. But when you drink milk from another animal, those hormones and sugar are still there and they have the same effect. Which is an argument for why cheese is so hard to quit.
  • Cheese is also salty and fatty, which is the taste that humans like.
  • Says to call cheese by its “real name” “fermented congealed butter fat."
  • Plant “milks” why not call them by their real names? Nut juice or rice juice or pea juice— it’s not milk.
  • Vegan junk is to be avoided too. “Congealed vegetable oil” is the alternative available to real ice cream, which he also calls junk. Just says it’s better junk than dairy ice creams because they have less estrogen.
  • Dairy industry: when cow becomes fertile (in the 1950s) cows are fertilized by human hand. Why she was still giving milk. After 10 days she stops giving milk. That was in the 1950s. Today: with many more cows and can’t afford to have milkers offline. So the genetically modified the cows so that they give milk all the way through pregnancy. IS THIS TRUE? Milk today has much higher levels of estrogen for this reason. And it gets into us when we drink milk, and men’s testosterone levels drop. Could this have something todo with the earlier puberty in girls? Could this account for higher prostate cancer rates?
  • Hmm… he uses water fasting in his practice, but only permits healthy patients to do three days at home. Longer than that and you have do it at his center.
  • Juice fasting is not fasting, but they do that too. That’s can be done for 4-5 days at home. That’s a “cleanse,” not a fast.
  • Does a PBD supply all the nutrients needed? Iodine is the topic. Short answer: Yes, it’s a concern on WFPBD.
  • Long term vegans their energy levels go down because they have subclinical hypothyroid because they are iodine deficient.
  • Discussed vitamin A and vitamin K on a WFPBD. Both are fat soluble, which is why some fat is necessary.
  • Vitamin A is fat soluble.. but plants don’t have vitamin A, it has to be created in the body.
  • Vitamin K, found in greens but that’s K1. K2 is most active, and the gut has to make it (a healthy gut will do so).
  • Says to supplement with B12.
  • Then attacks Paleo diet, which I thought was actually dying. Paleo will be a recurring topic in the summit over the next few days.
  • Predicts that paleo diet will be associated with all sorts of chronic diseases. We weren’t hunter-gatherers, we were gatherer-hunters.
  • Fossilized poop shows huge amount of fiber. Bones last and plants don’t, so an incorrect impression was created in earlier research. Yes, our ancestors ate meat, but it wasn’t the focus of the diet because it couldn’t be.
  • Along with diet, enough sleep is important, drinking water is important to protect against cell aging. unhappiness is bad for health. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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