Gabriel Cousens appropriately begins his book with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Society is always taken by surprise by a new example of common sense.” Conventional medicine has long taught that diabetes is an incurable life-long illness that is the result of genetic predisposition and must be continuously managed. Dr. Cousens is one of several natural health advocates who are showing that this is incorrect, that diabetes is not a natural condition and can actually be reversed. He claims that nutrition affects genetic expression, and that lifestyle choices are the primary cause of diabetes.
Dr. Cousens holds an MD and an MDH among other specialties and is a medical researcher, a Rabbi and internationally known spiritual teacher, and founder of the renowned Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona. His other books include “Spiritual Nutrition”, “Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine”, and “Conscious Eating”. His work aims at promoting the “Culture of Life” whereby all people live in a way that promotes life and well-being for themselves and our planet.
In his latest book he shares his research-based comprehensive theory of the causes of diabetes and his successful 21-day program for reversing diabetes using live-food nutrition. The first section of the book explores the details of the current diabetes pandemic. Readers may be surprised to learn that 80% of diabetics are now in developing countries, and that the percentage of diabetics in New York City is a third higher than for the rest of the US. In East Harlem the rate is nearly 20%, and in the Pima Indians of Arizona it is a staggering 50%.
The author shares evidence for the link to a western diet and lifestyle. Diabetes is practically unknown in indigenous communities that still follow their native diet, and arises in those communities that take on a western-style diet. He also discusses the cost to society and the economic impact of the pandemic.
He then covers in depth his comprehensive explanation of what brings on diabetes, spanning diet (including consumption of dairy, excess intake of coffee and caffeine, and consumption of processed, irradiated and pasteurized food), inactivity, overweight, high blood cholesterol, exposure to toxins, stress, and smoking. Even conditions such as depression, long thought to be a result of diabetes, are now turning out to be a causal factor instead.
He cites a study showing that insulin levels rise more as a result of eating cheese and beef than from consuming high-carbohydrate items such as pasta, and another that found that insulin rises as much from consumption of a quarter pound of beef as for a quarter pound of sugar.
Interestingly, Cousens presents evidence from experts such as Robert Leakey, premier medical anthropologist, that the human diet has historically been largely vegan with only small portions of meat or animal-based food, and that even animals more carnivorous than us such as the brown bear eat primarily plant food. He presents the benefits of a diet low in meat or excluding it completely, and the negative consequences of dairy intake.
In establishing the presence of diabetes or borderline conditions, Cousens considers the glycemic index of foods as well as the insulin index, which he believes to be a better indicator of the impact of consumption of a specific food. He discusses the role of trans-fatty acids, which are produced when the normal cis-fatty acids are exposed to high heat during the cooking process.
In addition to the other diabetogenic factors, Cousens puts forth the notion that sufficient enzyme levels, often low in diabetics, and hormonal balance are also critical to maintaining healthy metabolism. His 21-day program includes live/raw foods, some herbal supplements and superfood supplements, and the addition of digestive enzymes.
Specifically, the program limits participants to organic, plant-based live raw foods, including relatively high complex carbohydrates, 15-20% plant-based fats, and moderate protein intake. Foods are low in both glycemic index and insulin index, and high in minerals and fiber. Refined carbohydrates, especially white flour and white sugar, are completely eliminated, as are wheat and soy.
The live plant-based foods are high in phytonutrients including antioxidants. By choosing a rainbow of colors of vegetables, fruit and grain, participants ensure a diverse array of nutrients for themselves.
In the first phase, participants can eat all vegetables except cooked carrots and beets, and can have non-sweet fruits such as tomato, avocado, lemon and lime. All sea vegetables are allowed, as are healthy fats and oils such as hemp, flax, avocado, coconut, almond and sunflower. Nuts and seeds are encouraged, with the exception of cashews. Supplements and condiments include Himalayan and Celtic sea salt, stevia, cinnamon, cardamom, blue-green algae, spirulina and chlorella.
In the second phase other vegetables and all low-GI fruits are added, along with mesquite, cacao, carob, bee pollen and healthy grains. The grains include quinoa, millet, amaranth and spelt. Also added for this phase are fermented products such as apple cider vinegar and miso, along with probiotics.
The book presents basic data for the eleven clients who went through the program’s initial run, which was a follow-up to Cousens’ work for the film “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days", covering the experiences of diabetics who spent 30 days on a raw diet. Surprisingly little of the book is devoted to this, but the results speak for themselves.
All of the participants had drastic improvements in blood sugar and other measures, typically within the first few days of the program. One type 1 diabetic was off insulin within a few days and maintained solid health readings two years after the study was completed.
Fasting blood sugar (FBS) is a key indicator of the presence of diabetes or pre-diabetic condition. Cousens would prefer to see everyone with a level below 85, and considers FBS of 85-99 to be borderline and 100-125 to be pre-diabetic. A level of 126 or more is evidence of diabetes. Decreases in FBS in the program participants ranged from 24 points or 22% in one client to a whopping 315 points or 79% in another, often with drastic drops occurring within just the first few days.
The final sections of the book provide detailed guidelines for the diet Dr. Cousens recommends, including recipes. This information is essentially an extension of that in his previous book “Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine.”
Anyone who has diabetes or knows someone with diabetes should read this book and seriously consider adopting the nutritional plan put forth by Dr. Cousens, as the results are extreme and undeniable. Some may choose to ignore the more spiritual aspects of his view and recommendations, but this is not a reason to ignore the overall program. Those with the ability would benefit from attending the program at the Tree of Life, but anyone can follow the plan on their own with sufficient commitment.