Because TCM defines diabetes as a disease characterized by Yin deficiency and excess internal heat, an example of a dietary prescription would be to consume spinach, which is cooling, “strengthens all the organs, lubricates the intestines, and promotes urination.”7 A recommendation might be to boil tea from spinach and drink 1 cup three times/day. Other foods considered to be cooling and beneficial for diabetes include vegetables and grains, such as celery, pumpkin, soybeans (i.e., tofu, soymilk), string beans, sweet potato/yam, turnips, tomato, wheat bran, and millet. Fruit remedies, which act in specific therapeutic ways, include crab apple, guava, plum, strawberry, and mulberry.7 It is generally recommended that patients eat a wide variety of seasonal foods and avoid or minimize consumption of sweets and fruits. Meals should be smaller, eaten more frequently, and eaten at regular times each day.
People with diabetes are unable to control the level of sugar in their blood, usually due to a breakdown in how their bodies use the hormone insulin. It’s not completely clear how obesity can contribute to diabetes, but it is known that excess weight is associated with chronic inflammation and a dysfunctional metabolism. And these factors in turn make it easier for someone to stop responding to the presence of insulin as easily as they once did. So by using surgery to help very obese people with diabetes lose weight, the logic goes, you can indirectly treat or prevent the condition. But doctors such as David Cummings, a senior investigator at the University of Washington’s Diabetes & Obesity Center of Excellence, are pushing back against this way of thinking.
The prevalence of prediabetes is also on the rise, as it’s estimated that almost 34 million U.S. adults were prediabetic in 2015. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are above normal but below the defined threshold of diabetes. Without proper intervention, people with prediabetes are very likely to become type 2 diabetics within a decade.
You should have no more than three of these “feeding times” per day. The reason limiting the number and duration of your meal times is so important has to do with staying out of the vicious cycle of increasing insulin resistance. To get smart on insulin resistance — the cause of both type 2 diabetes and obesity — read Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, or watch his free lecture on YouTube.