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Thursday, August 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dr. Zorba Paster: Vegetarian, vegan diets help diabetics lower blood sugar

By Dr. Zorba Paster For The Spokesman-Review

I’m an omnivore. I eat everything. I love food – all kinds. These days, my diet has improved from the meat-and-potatoes, always-liver-on-Thursdays approach my mom thought was healthy for us. That was the thinking back in the ’50s. Now my diet aspires to be as Mediterranean as possible. I call it the king of diets.

But what if you are a diabetic? What’s the best diet for you? Recent research from the British Medical Journal points out that a vegetarian or vegan diet might be just what the doctor ordered. Lower blood sugar, improved weight loss, improved quality of life are just what this study indicated.

We know eating lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and beans with few or no animal products reduces the risk you’ll develop diabetes. But are there other benefits of such a diet?

Researchers combed through more than 10 clinical studies published over the past 18 years, studies that compared plant-based diets with other diets. They found that quality of life, both physical and emotional, and a reduction in depression seemed to go hand-in-hand with eating more vegetables.

In addition, fasting blood sugar fell more sharply in those who were strictly vegetarians or ate minimal animal products. And weight dropped as well.

My spin: Back in the day many years ago, we thought vegetarians were an outlaw food-fad group that had no place in good health. Guess what? That thinking was wrong.

Dear Dr. Z: I am very interested in an online doctor who has made several statements that seem authentic, but I have been fooled before. My mother had Alzheimer’s and I have been researching this topic on the Internet.

I would like to know if you are familiar with his research and if he is reliable. I have received a couple of his pamphlets and they seem to be authentic. His name is Dr. Glenn Rothfeld.

He claims to have research on how to keep this dreaded disease at bay. I’m afraid I am headed down the same path as my mother and it really scares me. So I would be very grateful if you could give me some information. What’s your take? – R.R., from Western New York

Dear R.R.: My mom also had Alzheimer’s so it’s something I pay a lot of interest. I now question her diagnosis. I know she had dementia but as a two-pack-a-day smoker, maybe it was cardiovascular dementia – stroke.

She died in 1981. CT imaging was in its infancy and MRIs had yet to be invented. There is no test that reveals Alzheimer’s with absolute certainty. It’s not like diabetes where a blood test answers the question. So your mom had dementia but which kind and how likely was the diagnosis? Those are the main questions.

But now, on to this doctor. His self-published book costs $50 – quite a lot in my mind. The website of his office states he does “chelation therapy,” a charlatan treatment if there ever was one. And he uses “thermography,” a quack imaging study supposedly to pick up inflammation and cancer.

My advice: Save your money and instead spend it on the Mediterranean diet, going to the gym, reading books and becoming actively involved in life. Those things do reduce dementia and they cost so much less. Stay well.

Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician and host of the public radio program “Zorba Pasteron Your Health.” He can be reached at

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