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Vegan Diabetes Summit, Day 6 Part 1

Published 3.29.2017
This is the ninth 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. This is the first half of day six of the summit, which I thought was one of the most interesting.

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 intended to be recaps, merely some notes and commentary I made while listening.

Dan Buettner

Dan Buettner is the author of the book, The Blue Zones.
  • Blue Zones are where people live longest. Why should diabetics care? Because at the end of the day, the things that give you longevity, will keep you from getting T2D.
  • People in the blue zones don’t have different genes. Live a lifestyle and environment that keeps them from foreshortening their own lives. Can live into your 90s or even into your 100s.
  • 80% of longevity determined by lifestyle, 20% by genes.
  • Buettner thinks are problems are a product of the environment that we live in. Overall health was better in the 1970s. Things weren’t better back then but the food environment was different. I'd add that the Boomers were also younger.
  • Says to move every 20 minutes for 3-5 minutes. Not beings sedentary and then working out at the end of the day. All well and good, but if 20 minutes at the end of the day is what you have, so be it.
  • Also, doing things that have a purpose for you. Be propelled by meaning.
  • “The brutal reality about aging is that it has only an accelerator pedal. We’ve yet to discover if a brake even exists” So what you’re looking to do is not speed up the inevitable.
  • Two types of aging: 1. The build up of damaged cell and molecule damage over time. Every 7 years every cell replaces itself. Different cells take different amounts of time. Damage doubles each time this happens. By 60 rate of aging is 160x as fast as when a teen. On average Americans would die at 92 if this was the rate. 2. Second type of aging is trying to push the ceiling of how long humans live— but not yet. There’s nothing that you can take to slow the inevitable build up of damage. Bottom line: we’re all shooting for 92, and every year after that is gravy.
  • To determine what was eaten, they looked at food surveys from over the years. They didn’t ask the people— but then he says they looked at historical surveys— huh?
  • In the Blue Zones, meat is eaten as a condiment, but meat is eaten. No more than 5 times a month, none of the blue zones are vegan. NONE. OF. THEM.
  • Grains, greens and beans are the bulk of a healthy diet.
  • The cornerstone of the longevity diet is BEANS! About a cup a day.
  • Very little fish, very little eggs. Mostly they eat a high carb diet. Historically, 70% of diet is complex carbs. 15% comes form oils, and the rest is protein, mostly plant proteins.
  • Khambatta brings up beans and the paleo diets. The one common denominator for all the blue zones is beans.
  • Addressing the Paleo movement, Buettner starts with average age was 26. This is actually a weak argument because this age included infant mortality.
  • Cultures where people live a long time people eat about a cup of beans a day.
  • Nuts in the blue zone: it’s the go to snack, about a handful of nuts a day. They eat a combination of nuts, not any one.
  • Nuts are satiating. However, he’s wrong about nuts being self-limiting, at least in my observation and experience.
  • All five zones drink 1-2 glasses of wine a day. With meals, not just to drink. Wine with meals increases the flavonoid absorption.
  • Movement patterns. They don’t exercise. (!!) But they live in walkable communities, so they walk more than we do.
  • We’ve engineered a lot of movement out of our lives. People in Blue Zones tend to have gardens, which is regular low intensity activity. Their houses don’t have the conveniences that we do. To solve the problem, we need to think granularly. We need to move more everyday just as we live. Or stand up while you work in front of a screen…
  • Moving every couple of hours has much the same effect, which is much more likely for urban dwellers to do.
  • Notes they do stress relieving things, but not because they are. They aren’t lonely.
  • A couple of things stand out. Not only to blue zone population eat meat, they also consume oils. A number of presenters have demonized oils and their usage, but the reality is that people cook with and consume fat with no problem except in excess. Though it wasn’t clear if he was using oil to mean fat as a macronutrient.


Wes Youngberg PhD

Youngberg is not a medical doctor, he's a nutritionist who has written a book, Goodbye Diabetes.
  • Talks about the best tests for new diabetics, as how to tell whether there is pancreas function that can be salvaged. Also says that there can be a chance to reverse T1D if there's still some evidence of beta cell function. This is what Joel Fuhrman, MD claimed in his talk too. Considering that both hosts have T1D, it's surprising how little it's been a topic here.
  • He says the highest risk on his program is blood sugars falling too low.
  • I can accept that T2D can be reversed, I’m a little less confident about T1D. Both Barbaro and Khambatta are fully plant based. Both have lowered their insulin needs (increased insulin sensitivity) but they have NOT restored pancreas function. But they have been T1D for years.
  • Youngberg also claims that he’s working with people with Alzheimer’s just as he works with diabetics.
  • You can tell that this guy works closely with diabetics. He’s talking about monitoring your personal sugar variance during the day. It’s not the same for everyone.
  • T2D for him is considered having insulin resistance (IR)— so if a T1D is also IR, then he considers that T2 on top of T1. T1D is when the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. Full stop.
  • Excess insulin is associated with increased incidence of cancer. But only excess. That’s why being insulin sensitive is important.
  • And so the insulin/cancer thing brings up the low carb (LC) method of managing diabetes. LCers like to claim that’s protecting them from cancer.
  • Chronic kidney disease is a known risk to diabetes— which explains why Jason Fung (Canadian kidney specialist) thinks he is qualified to teach about diabetes, because kidney disease and end stage renal failure is common in long term diabetics. High protein diets are known to be hard on kidneys, but this is why these LCHF (low carb high fat) followers are drinking cups of cream and/or coconut oil.
  • So LCers do need less insulin, and there BG curves are pretty flat. His analogy is to LDL, something about focusing on markers and missing what's important.
  • The idea that a lot of diabetics chase biomarkers. But this is dangerously simplistic. There is more to consider than just blood glucose levels.
  • Light exercise after meals. Now studies show this too) In early 1990s, they looked at this on Guam (which is where he did his research). Found light to intermediate exercise after meals results in 1-3 point drop per minute of light exercise. So walking after dinner is a great idea. You are not getting sweaty. Just sitting in a chair moving your arms is enough. Oh wait, after is better than before. But any is better than none.
  • Vitamin D (a whole chapter) The risk of developing cancer is higher for those with low vitamin D blood levels than it is for smokers. 80-90% of patients on Guam were deficient— on Guam where the sunshines all day. Although he claims that showering too much washes vitamin D down the drain because it’s fat soluble, made by the skin and takes 48 hours to be fully absorbed. Never heard that one before.
  • Finnish study shows that if kids are replete with vitamin D T1D incidence would decline— wait WHAT? Where is that reference?
  • 80% association between low vitamin D and T1D If kids got 2000 IUs (international units) a day then 80% they'd be less likely to become T1D. My woo meter is tingling for the first time this summit. Update 3.30.2107: In fact, my woo meter has gone off in prior presentations.
  • Shiitake mushrooms are said to be a food source of vitamin D. But most are not plant based.
  • In terms of getting your level measured, At a minimum you want to be in the normal range. So what’s optimal? About 50
  • Vitamin D2 vs D3 He punts. He doesn’t answer the D2 vs D3 question. Though he recommends a vegan D3 vitamin. D3 is the more potent. Does not recommend a huge dose of D2 once a week because that’s stress on the liver to convert it.
  • I'd have to research this guy's vitamin D claims before I'd endorse them.

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