The Physicians Committee

Think Eating Healthy’s a Pain? Diabetes is the Real Pain.

  May 26, 2015    


Diabetes can affect your quality of life in many ways—but one complication that often goes unmentioned is pain. Diabetic neuropathy commonly manifests as pain and numbness in the legs and feet, but it can damage any of the body’s nerve fibers. While pain is not a visible symptom that can be measured with blood tests or body monitors, it’s very real with limited treatment options. Fortunately, recent research suggests a low-fat, plant-based diet may hold promise for pain relief. According to a new study published by Physicians Committee researchers, a low-fat, plant-based diet may reduce the pain of diabetic neuropathy. Researchers followed 17 adults with previously diagnosed type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy as they transitioned to a low-fat, vegan diet for 20 weeks. Not only did the participants lose weight, but also saw improvements in neuropathy pain and symptoms. A low-fat, plant-based diet has been shown to provide benefits beyond diabetic neuropathy—it has been shown to be just as effective as commonly prescribed medication in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. By switching to a low-fat, vegan diet, patients with diabetes may lower their blood sugar and HbA1c levels as insulin sensitivity is improved. With 29.1 million Americans suffering from diabetes, it’s crucial to consider the role of diet in both the treatment and prevention of the disease. If you don’t know where to start, check out the 21-Day Kickstart for three weeks of low-fat, plant-based recipes, as well as a shopping list and daily tips. For more information, visit

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My sister(age 72) had extensive chemotherapy and, as a result, has numbness in her feet(neuropathy) as well as her hands. Might this benefit her?

I have embraced Dr. Barnard's low fat vegan diet now for approximatley two months. My A1c dropped from 11.7 to 9.8 in 1.5 weeks. That was a nice surprise (I am also on the lowest dose of Trajenta/which is new for me, never having been on a diabetic medicine before) and after an additional four weeks, my A1c was down to 9.0. I have also lost 12 pounds. I am enjoying oats and barley, and other whole grains, along with many vegetables, a few fruits, including apples and grapefruit, and lots of tofu and legumes. I love dark rye bread and eat whole wheat pita bread (the smaller variety) and sprouted grain bread, and several whole grain cereals. I often shop at Trader Joes, where I actually found a very very low fat peanut butter (which is a treat on a whole grain toast with fresh strawberries or simply fruit jam). I embraced Dr Barnard's vegan diet when I was first diagnosed with type II approximately 5 years ago and got my A1c down to 5.4. My aim is to get my numbers between 6 and 7. In general, I feel better and have more energy, though I have always been active, I started jogging last summer and continue with that every morning, along with yoga each night before bed. I am also lifting weights and doing pilates. Happy vegan eating! Here's to your health, and please spread the word, this low fat vegan diet is very helpful : ) kml

Thank you for the wonderful work that you have been doing to encourage a vegetarian lifestyle. It does reduce the negative effects on the environment and is a healthier alternative. I have been a lacto- vegetarian for nearly 25 years and continue to encourage others to work towards a non meat diet. Best wishes and continued success in your venture

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