Detoxing for Diabetes: My 10-Day Jumpstart to Better Health
If you had told me a year ago that I’d be gluten- and dairy-free, I would have laughed and then served up a huge lasagna. This Italian American practically has pasta running through her veins — which likely contributed to my current health dilemma.
After my type 2 diabetes diagnosis in January, I began to read everything I could get my hands on about reversing the disease through diet and exercise. I watched Forks Over Knives and omitted animal products, saw a nutritionist and counted carb grams, and through it all, I drank a lot of kale.
Then, I picked up Dr. Mark Hyman’s book Blood Sugar Solution. In it, he explains how common allergens like gluten, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine affect our bodies, even if we’re not technically allergic. Certain foods are more likely to cause inflammation, which is a stress response that the body produces when we are fighting off something. A little inflammation helps you heal and then goes away, a ton of it hurts you and becomes constant. Inflammation and insulin resistance go hand in hand, and one of the ways to combat diabetes is to remove the triggering foods.
Dr. Hyman’s research made sense to me, so I thought I’d give his diet a try. With little less than a month until my follow-up doctor’s appointment, I wanted to jumpstart my progress. I read his 10-Day Detox Diet, which cuts out not only the inflammation triggers of gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol, but also all grains, most fruit, legumes, and starchy vegetables, to help maintain balanced blood sugar levels. I welcomed the return of humanely-produced lean protein and an almost laughable amount of healthy fats — nearly 20 g per meal — which was absolutely shocking to someone who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, when fat was the enemy. Could this really produce results? I was about to find out.
Lowdown on Detox: Diabetes Buster or Buzzkill?While it felt like an undertaking to commit to such a change, I figured that I could do practically anything for 10 days, so why not give it a shot? As I prepared to make everything that passed my lips for the next week and a half, I filled my shopping cart with raw nuts and coconut oil, hemp and flax and chia seeds, a lot of avocados, and a farmers market’s worth of leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. I was ready to detox.
Though it wasn’t all about the food. Stress causes inflammation, so a big part of healing yourself is to actively work on relaxation techniques. Detoxifying baths, journaling, breathing, media fasting, and exercise were all part of the plan, too. It’s also a lot easier to make better food choices after you’ve taken a few deep, calming breaths.
As with most detoxes, it gets worse before it gets better. I had intense gluten withdrawal, which caused headaches, irritability, and the craziest cravings I had ever experienced. I felt like I would die (or someone in my immediate vicinity might) if I didn’t immediately eat a pizza-pasta-bread sandwich. Thankfully, it passed in a couple of days, and the other side saw a lifting of “brain fog” that I didn’t even know I had. So much energy! Such clarity! It felt pretty great.
At the end of 10 days, I had lost 8 pounds, bringing my overall weight loss to 25 pounds. My lab results showed marked improvement, with improved cholesterol and a reduction in my A1c (average blood sugar over three months) from 9.8 to 6.5.
While I have dabbled in gluten and dairy since the detox, I’ve noticed that I have more energy and fewer cravings when I avoid them. Though it doesn’t hurt to hit the reset button every once in a while, diet remains a balance, and making good choices most of the time is the way to get and stay healthy.
Tara Bellucci is a lifestyle writer and marketing consultant focused on helping entrepreneurs boost their small businesses. Her work has appeared on Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn, and Boston.com. A co-founder of the Boston Food Swap, she hosts monthly events where people swap homemade and homegrown food. She writes openly about her health journey at MindMouthMantra.com.