The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally
BY JASON FUNG
Publisher: Greystone Books, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publication date: 3 April 2018
Type 2 diabetes is a highly complex health condition with many possible treatment options. In recent years, very-low-carbohydrate diets that include frequent intermittent fasting have emerged as a way to not only treat type 2 diabetes, but also reverse it. Whether reversing type 2 diabetes is possible is highly contentious among medical professionals and scientists, but there is certainly more acknowledgment that “pausing” diabetes or putting it “in remission” is possible.
Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist, believes unequivocally that, yes, type 2 diabetes can be reversed, and his book, The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally, is an instruction manual on just how to do it. The book begins with a detailed history and explanation of how type 2 diabetes has become the epidemic of the 21st century and why conventional treatments (including drugs) simply do not work. Although it is well accepted that drugs cannot work alone and that diet and exercise are cornerstones of diabetes management, Fung explains exactly why and how nutrition should be the foremost focus.
Fung rose to prominence in 2016 with his book The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, which challenged typical weight loss methods and highlighted why his method of combining a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan with intermittent fasting results in rapid weight loss and is more effective than traditional energy in/energy out plans. That book has received nearly 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Last year, Fung followed up with The Diabetes Code, which specifically focuses on how his method can prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes. Just as The Obesity Code was not embraced by all despite the strong consumer response, The Diabetes Code has also been met with skepticism from some quarters. In his introduction, Fung says, “Fact: type 2 diabetes is caused by too much sugar.” Although he later justifies this claim in great detail, explaining why lowering insulin levels through decreasing sugar intake is crucial in type 2 diabetes treatment, the simplistic claim that “sugar causes type 2 diabetes” does diminish the complexity of the condition, which is, of course, multifactorial in etiology.
Fung’s no-nonsense approach and clear explanations for his management solution will be appealing for many people with type 2 diabetes, but certainly not all. His highly prescriptive treatment plan is very clear. Those subscribing to his “code” must forgo sugar-sweetened beverages (which is of course a good idea for everyone—not just people with or at risk of diabetes), cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, ice cream, most fruits, all dried fruits, bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. The sustainability of such a rigid plan could, of course, be difficult for some, although others may find the rigid approach easier to adhere to because of its clarity.
The Diabetes Code offers three principles for reversing type 2 diabetes: 1) avoid fructose, 2) avoid refined carbohydrates while increasing natural fats, and 3) eat only unprocessed foods. Intermittent fasting is an extra (fourth) principle.
It is undeniable that, for some, The Diabetes Code has been a welcome and useful tool in their type 2 diabetes toolbox. There is already significant anecdotal evidence from people with type 2 diabetes who have adopted this sort of management plan and have seen positive results. By the same token, the nature of this strict and restrictive treatment plan has also been difficult for some people to follow. It is important to recognize that this approach will not be right for all people with diabetes and to ensure that anyone attempting to follow it is working with a health care provider. Importantly, people with diabetes who try this approach but who become unwilling or unable to follow it over the long term should not be made to feel like failures.
The book ends with a simple-to-follow 2-week meal and fasting plan. The recipes are varied and do not require any unusual or hard-to-source ingredients. Recipes are available on Fung’s website (www.dietdoctor.com).
Where this book will challenge some diabetes health care professionals is in its claims that all current evidence-based, conventional treatments are wrong; this assertion is clearly untrue, so skip that part. Rather, consider the code Fung has unlocked in this book and his previous one as potential options for some people with or at risk of type 2 diabetes, and then form your own opinion based on specific patients’ needs.
Duality of Interest
No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.