Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This is the first video in a three part series on eating oatmeal to treat diabetes. Up until the development of insulin doctors were treating diabetes with high carb diets. I've previously reported on the impact of plant-base eating for type II diabetes, but check out this research on oatmeal diets. "Is Oatmeal Good for People with Diabetes?" Before there was insulin, there was oatmeal. Before the discovery of insulin, the life of many diabetics was saved or prolonged by Carl von Noorden’s oatmeal diet, which he apparently stumbled upon accidentally. Some of his diabetic patients had gastrointestinal issues; so, he put them on oatmeal, and instead of the sugars spilling over into their urine getting worse, they started getting better. He published his findings in 1903, which was received with a great deal of skepticism. But the skeptics were overcome, however, in the following years by the weight of the evidence. A turning point came when a doctor as notable as James B. Herrick gave it a try. Dr. Herrick is acclaimed for his description of sickle cell anemia, which was originally known as Herrick's syndrome. When Dr. Herrick began to try out the oatmeal diet on his patients, he was very skeptical, but was astonished by the results. Intense skepticism was how Herrick put it. His first experience in prescribing it was far from encouraging. After taking one or two meals, the patient said, “Doctor, I will die before I taste another spoonful of that oatmeal mush.” And indeed, tragically, she did. Other doctors echoed patient reticence to tolerate so monotonous an equine diet. But in general, Herrick said, he went on to experience little difficulty in putting patients on the oatmeal diet and in keeping them there for a few weeks. And nothing, he reported, was more surprising or more gratifying than the salutary effects he witnessed of the oatmeal diet in diabetes of the young, leading to the 1909 proclamation that no case of juvenile or adolescent diabetes should be deprived of the benefits of the oatmeal cure. The great Elliott Joslin, founder of the oldest and largest diabetes clinic in the world, described the effects of the oatmeal as sometimes magical, describing the oatmeal cure as an unsolved mystery, referred to back then as one of the greatest puzzles in diabetes. They did have some clues though. They found that animal protein had to be strictly excluded, as it annihilates the favorable action of oatmeal-type diets. They used to use eggs with the oatmeal diet, but they got better results without them. And now we know, over a century later that indeed, animal protein intake intensiﬁes insulin resistance, which is the cause of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, whereas plant-based foods enhance insulin sensitivity, which is the opposite. Animal-protein intake is not just associated with insulin resistance and a clear association with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (and this included animal protein from meat, dairy, and ﬁsh— higher insulin resistance and risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes). But not just an association; you can put it to the test. Swapping in beans for beef improves cardiometabolic risk factors. And it doesn’t take much. Replace just two servings of red meat with lentils, chickpeas, split peas, or beans a few days a week, and you can significantly improve fasting blood sugars and insulin levels, along with the improvements you’d expect, like lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides. Based on over a dozen randomized controlled trials, even just swapping like a third of protein from animal to plant sources can significantly improve blood sugar control. What’s the difference between animal protein and plant protein? We think it’s the branched-chain amino acids concentrated in animal protein. How do we know branched-chain amino acids are playing a role? Because if you give vegans branched-chain amino acid supplements, you can make them as insulin resistant as meat eaters. Their insulin sensitivity dropped to the level resembling omnivores and only improved again after stopping the supplements. But wait a second. I thought insulin resistance stems from excess accumulation of fat inside your muscle cells, particularly saturated fat. Insulin resistance directly correlates with increased saturated fat inside your muscles. I’ve got tons of videos on this, but basically you can show a substantial and consistent impairment of insulin action, substantial and consistent insulin resistance after just a single day consuming a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, even a single meal rich in saturated fat reduces insulin sensitivity. A single dose of butter, for example, impairs insulin sensitivity even in healthy subjects. And over time, reducing cholesterol and fat intake may even enhance the ability of your pancreas to pump out insulin in the first place. Now, the saturated fat getting lodged in your muscles may come from the foods going into your mouth, or if you have excess abdominal fat, from previous meals spilling over into your blood stream. But either way, what does animal protein have to do with it? It turns out a branched-chain amino acid breakdown product appears to stimulate fat uptake and accumulation inside the muscle cells. But oatmeal doesn’t have any saturated animal fat or animal protein. Okay, but neither does any plant food. Why might oatmeal work particularly well? That’s the question I explore next.