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.
Herbal prescriptions for diabetes are formulated or prescribed based on the patient’s predominant symptoms. For instance, a patient presenting primarily with excessive thirst (lung Yin deficiency) might be given a single herb, such as radix panacis quinquefolii; or a combination of herbs in a patent formulation such as yu chuan wan, which is used in general to treat diabetes of mild to moderate severity and specifically to treat excessive thirst due to Yin deficiency,12 and ba wei di huang tang (“eight-ingredient pill with rehmannia”), which was originally used to treat people exhibiting weakness, fatigue, and copious urine soon after drinking water.13
In type 1 diabetes, the body produces none of the insulin that regulates our blood sugar levels. Very high glucose levels can damage the body's organs. Patients with type 2 diabetes, however, do produce insulin - just not enough to keep their glucose levels normal. Because I was fit and not overweight (obesity is a major risk factor in type 2 diabetes; however, a number of non-obese people, particularly members of south Asian communities, are also prone to it), my doctor told me I could control my condition with diet alone.
One easy way to increase your fat content and quit snacking is to begin your meal by eating an avocado. I and others I know have used this trick to easily quit snacking. Avocados protect you from one of the reasons some dietary research wrongly claims that high-fat diets are bad for you: the danger of gorging yourself on delicious, fatty foods. With plain avocados, there is little danger of gorging. Another danger is clogging your arteries and giving yourself heart disease. But it’s been amply shown that the blame for that falls squarely on trans fats, like margarine. If you see any product with the words “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients, put it back, it’s a trans fat. On the other hand, any fat that comes directly from an animal or plant is not a trans fat and can be safely consumed.