Vegan Diabetes Summit, Day 5 Part 2

Published 3.28.2017
This is the eight in a series in which I am commenting on the Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, otherwise known as the Vegan Diabetes Summit. The two hosts, Cyrus Khambatta and Robby Barbaro, manage their type one diabetes (T1D) with a high carb, low fat diet, consisting of mostly fruit. Most of the discussion in the sessions were about type two diabetes (T2D) though, which is the type that most people have.

Links to the videos and audio recordings of the event expired Thursday, February 9th at 9:00 PM Pacific time. However, I have notes for most of the talks though day seven (Day 8 was all about testimonials) and I will continue to present them until I've gone through them all. I have been remiss is finishing up these presentations, and that is too bad, because some of the most interesting ones are yet to be written up. My intention this week is to remedy that.

Please remember: 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. These are not recaps, merely some notes and commentary I made while listening.

Dr Ronald Weiss MD

Dr Weiss is also a farmer. His current practice is run on his farm, where he grows all the food he sues to treat people. Day five of the summit seemed to be Forks Over Knives (FoK) day, so Weiss is featured on the FoK website.

  • His father had pancreatic cancer, and there wasn’t any treatment. So he went to the library and found the macrobiotic diet. Started his father on it Macrobiotic diet is whole food plant base. Within days of the restrictive PBD, his pain went away and went back to work. 3 months after starting the diet, he had reduction in tumor mass.
  • 9 months later 50% reduction in tumor mass. After a year, went back to the clinic to see about experimental treatment. Told his doctor about the diet and the doctor dismissed it all. Weiss on the other hand, altered his own practice to be nutrition based.
  • HIs practice is at a farm and its immersive because it's not easy to alter your life completely and live and eat this way. So he brings people to the farm to get indoctrinated into the lifestyle.
  • Practice is called Ethos Health. He talked a lot about pollutants and soil quality. He sees diabetes patients of all ages. Tells the anecdote of a 91 year old woman, who got rid of her diabetes.
  • Adherence is the key, and that depends on the patient. They try to give patients all the skills needed and sustained for a year. “Year of Mindful Living” Program.
  • They ask about T1D, and Weiss says starch doesn’t cause diabetes— of course he does. He says it’s animal based foods and appears to be saturated fat (sat fat), which mostly comes from animals.
  • Claims that sat fat is toxic and kills beta cells. Perhaps in excess, but I’m not convinced that animal fats are poison. The dose makes the poison.
  • The idea that excess fat blocks the function of beta cells is supporter even if animal products are still eaten. Again (and again and again) Nathan Pritikin reversed CVD and diabetes with his low fat non-vegan diet.
  • A low fat diet might be best, vegan diet… not so much. That might be the bottom line for this summit. It is easier to eat less sat fat if you don’t eat animals. That is true.
  • Weiss admits that eating huge amounts of starch could be problematic, even it though it doesn’t cause the disease. That said, people do reverse diabetes on a high starch (carb) low fat diet. And then he tells an anecdote to prove the points.
  • This is his 30 day program: Unlimited starches, no limit, + 16 oz of dark greens a day (preferably raw) unlimited fruit and water.
  • Adherence (he calls it sustaining) is the most important. Anyone can change for the short term, that’s why all diets (ALL OF THEM) work in the short term. But if you’re not eating in a way you can stand for the rest of your life it doesn’t work.
  • As it happened, that is the next topic. How to make the diet stick: “Deep” education is the answer. Yeah, maybe. Switching to whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD) might seem magical, but what happens when you’re on vacation, or visiting grandma? This is why gurus try to scare people. if you're old diet is "toxic" and was "killing you" maybe you'll be less likely to return to it.
  • Asked to discuss the link between T1D and dairy. His response is based on old European data. However, even the evidence of that data is the baby must be pre-disposed to T1D. If the baby is pre-disposed, then proteins in the milk set off their immune system that reacts to bovine insulin in the milk. The insulin producing cells are killed as a result, and T1D results.
  • Is it true to all dairy products? He doesn’t know but still says that it is. We don’t give those things to babies, so there’s no data. he goes on to say that milk, cheese and dairy products can tend to bring on a flare of autoimmune diseases.
  • They end with the question, What to eat? WFPBD, of course, especially greens. Legumes get a special shout out, but for the first time in the talk. Legumes haven’t received the love in this summit that I would have expected.

James Loomis MD

Dr Loomis trained and was based in St Louis for a chunk of his career where he was a team physician for both the St. Louis football Rams and baseball Cardinals. He has both a Super Bowl ring and a World Series ring. He also has the "loser" version of those rings, but he doesn't mention them as often. He is currently based in Washington as part of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is vegan and I think Neal Barnard's group.

  • We begin with his personal story. Loomis was developing a bunch of conditions while eating a standard American diet. He could get away with it if he was an athlete. Then life got in the way. He got injured and couldn’t exercise, and began to put on weight.
  • Developed sleep apnea, which they treat with CPAP not diet. Developed further issues, including high cholesterol.
  • The only dietary advice was to eat less and move more (which does work). Anyway, he watch FoK and rainbows resulted and the angels sang. In any case, he went and did some research, and decided to do three months of a WFPBD and go to rehab for his knee.
  • In the three months, he lost 30 pounds, his high cholesterol, sleep and other issues went away. Realized that he was sick care provided, not a healthcare provider.
  • He lost weight so quickly his patients thought he had cancer. Once he lost the weight, could begin to move again and so he lost more weight. He changed his practice as a result (this transformation is almost certainly post team physician gig).
  • New patients get an hour— most of whom walk in expecting the FoK schtick. But it’s harder with those who walk in blind. Most people who are on drugs and their illness is controlled aren’t as easy a sell on the lifestyle change. Which again goes to adherence and the fact that going vegan isn’t as easy as these people make it out to be.
  • So they go through all the things that can happens to make the process easier, but if the folks around you aren’t on board it’s not easy. Says it’s about the process of doing it, not the knowledge of why to do ti.
  • Then they discuss WFPBD for athletes, which Cyrus is (or was). Did he use WFPBD for the Rams or Cardinals? No. Loomis admits that WFPBD is a really tough sell for football and baseball teams.
  • Says the issue is protein, and you can get enough protein from plants. Claims it’s becoming more prevalent.
  • College athletes can have metabolic syndrome, as can pro footballers. Does admit that meat can make you strong. But there are adverse consequences.
  • Says plants have a lot of antioxidants, and so they would help with recovery after exercise. Cyrus shares an anecdote that WFPBD allowed him to recover much faster.
  • Loomis talks about our evolution. Stress, activity, recovery is the cycle, but we’ve gotten away from that. Don’t have to worry about food now, compounded by not recovering well enough.
  • Points out we were gatherer-hunters not hunter-gatherers, and we didn’t have refined carbs, dairy or oils. And we ate only a little meat that had been eating what was natural.
  • Overconsumption of animal products is causing the problem That’s his word, not mine. It’s not meat per se, it’s eating too much meat. Dairy is a separate issue.
  • And most exercise we did we did in the absence of food. Because when we didn’t have it, we went to find food. That’s why fatty acids are what stored. Insulin returns fatty acids to cells.
  • Endurance exercise is fueled by fatty acids. First glycogen, then glucose, but after than we have to use what’s stored.
  • People who exercise a lot can have fat stored in muscles for quick access. Also see increased fat storage in muscles and organs in obese people. And it’s thought that fat causes insulin resistance. his hedge, not mine.
  • Not emptying stores and then refilling them leads to more insulin needed to get the cells to take more energy.
  • Then he uses the analogy of using the wrong gas in a car to illustrated how people eat the wrong stuff. And you wouldn’t put less bad gas in your tank, you’d put the right gas in your tank, so we ought to put the right food in us. And this is the vegan summit, so the right food is plants.
  • Athletes paradox: have accumulated triglycerides in muscles. But for athletes this is fuel source to draw from in exercise, but in obese people it causes IR— it’s the cycling that matters. If athletes weren’t emptying the tank, they’d develop IR. Instead, people who exercise have higher insulin sensitivity.
  • WFPBD are getting popular amongst ultra-marathoners (high endurance), but not in football and baseball. Loomis admits this is difficult problem to solve. Protein is part of the culture. Both in terms of powders and in the pregame meal. A lot of broscience to overcome. Guys don’t eat salads… that’s for chicks.
  • Event horizon for health issues is far in the future, so most athletes won’t buy into the need for change.
  • Naturally his final recommendation is to go plant based to get healthier if they are diabetic. How not to die gets touted, and of course Forks over Knives. Also the Quick Start Program from PCRM, it’s a free 21 day program


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