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Reverse Diabetes and Heal Your Pancreas by Eating More Garlic

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Harvard-trained physician Ian Smith, MD, reveals how compounds in garlic heal the pancreas to reverse diabetes.

As a former member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, Ian Smith, MD, has a bird’s-eye view of the health struggles affecting women. The one that most worries him: “There are 29.1 million type 2 diabetics, 88 million prediabetics, and millions of nondiabetics who are addicted to sugar,” he says.

Part of the problem: The standard American diet is loaded with hidden sugars — so much so that research in the journal Public Health Nutrition revealed that even when dieters think they’re being “good” and avoiding sugar most of the time, they’re actually eating as much as 48 percent more sugar than they estimate. That translates into as much as a 1 ⁄2 cup a day!

Over time, all that sugar can damage the pancreas. When we eat a sugary or carb-rich meal, the pancreas’ beta cells pump out the hormone insulin in response to the amount of sugar in the blood. That insulin acts like a key, unlocking the door that allows sugar molecules inside muscle cells, where they are burned for fuel. But consistently high sugar levels force beta cells to work overtime to produce enough insulin, and eventually, the beta cells get maxed out.

“It’s called pancreatic burnout,” says Dr. Smith. “Continuously introducing a high sugar load to the system challenges the pancreas and can lead to cellular dysfunction.” This can impair beta cells’ production of insulin, so the body doesn’t have enough to process blood sugar.

Without sufficient insulin, sugar can’t get into the muscle cells to be burned for fuel — but it can get into fat cells to be stored, explains Tu Nguyen, MD, the UCLA-educated co-author of The
Thinsulin Program
(Buy on Amazon, $14.98). “It’s easy for any food you eat to get stored in fat cells, but it’s not easy for it to get into muscle cells to be burned for fuel.” As sugar gets stored, fat cells fill up — and the number on the scale climbs. What’s worse: Without the muscles taking in sugar to burn for fuel, the liver ends up expending all its energy converting the excess sugar into fat. This pulls the liver’s resources away from important activities like fat burning.

Now scientists have found the key to revitalizing the pancreas: Add garlic to the diet. A study in the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences revealed that garlic oil increases the number of healthy beta cells in the pancreas in 30 days — an effect that helped women who consumed garlic lose four times more weight than those who didn’t. The study authors believe sulfur compounds in garlic jump-start cellular healing, but they note that garlic can’t work its magic if the beta cells are bathed in sugary blood. That’s where Dr. Smith comes in: His plan eliminates sneaky dietary sugars to normalize blood sugar so beta cell function can be restored and the pancreas can operate at its peak.

As the pancreas heals, the benefits multiply. With the right amount of insulin being produced, more sugar can be burned for fuel by muscles, taking pressure off the liver so it can focus on its own functions. Adds Dr. Nguyen, “When your body isn’t overproducing insulin all the time, the pancreas can make just what the body needs each time you eat.”

As the pancreas heals and muscle cells can access sugar to burn as fuel again, energy levels skyrocket. What’s more, Dr. Smith reports that women following his protocol lower their blood-sugar levels by as much as 30 percent — enough to reverse prediabetes and even diabetes for some. “When you get the sugar out, you let life in,” promises Dr. Smith. “You can regain control of your health destiny.” Read on to learn how!

Make Garlic Work For You

Increasing your garlic intake is a proven way to revitalize the pancreas. Below, three easy ways to reap the perks of garlic, whether you’re a fan of the spice or not:

Don’t like the taste? Add salt. Culinary experts recommend sprinkling crushed cloves with a pinch of salt before mincing — doing so will take the bite out of garlic’s raw flavor, making it sweeter and much more mild.

Like the taste? Add it to your 5-a-day. Consuming garlic along with veggies is an easy way to get your daily fill: Think garlic-mashed cauliflower, garlic gently braised with chopped chard, or even a dollop of garlic-infused butter melted into a pile of roasted Brussels sprouts. This strategy makes getting your daily serving of garlic (not to mention your five daily servings of veggies) a snap!

Love the taste? Sip this. Women rave about a mild garlic tea that Mehmet Oz, MD, shared on The Dr. Oz Show.

To make: Steep 1 green tea bag in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add 3 garlic cloves; steep for 5 minutes. Strain the cloves out and enjoy.

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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Diabetes (Buy on Amazon, $12.99). 

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