<--   Thought for July

Learning to Live with Type 2 Diabetes
- by Manisha Wilmette


Om saha nāvavatu saha nau bhunaktu
saha vīryam karavāvahai
tejasvināvadhītam astu mā vidviṣāvahai
om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

May we both, the teacher and the taught, be protected.
May we attain strength together.
May our study fill us.
May there be no disharmony between us.


For the past fifteen years, traditional Yoga has sustained me in keeping my type 2 diabetes in remission - maintaining acceptable blood sugar levels and avoiding the complications of other illnesses that can result from it - without my taking any diabetes medications1.


What I mean by traditional Yoga is Yoga rooted in the ancient scriptures of the Hindu Dharma and the Sutras of Patanjali and other sages, which is taught by Swami Ambikananda Saraswati of England, my Yoga teacher, which was taught to her by her guru, the world-renowned Swami Venkatesananda, which was taught to him by his guru, Swami Sivananda - founder of the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India. I am specifying Swamiji's lineage because, first, that is the foundation of her teaching and she was the key to how traditional Yoga helped me. Second, the word 'yoga' is now often reduced to an assortment of practices which may or may not enable type 2 diabetes to be kept at bay, because the greater 'whole' of Yoga is omitted.


Much is at stake in vouching for the effectiveness of healthcare teachings and therapies:

  • The American Diabetes Association (ADA) claim that “Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.”2
  • In the UK, “Slow action by law-makers is costing…billions of pounds each year in the costs of treating type 2 diabetes and its associated problems.”
  • 'By the year 2030, 7.7 percent of the world’s population will be diabetic'.4
  • For people who have type 2 diabetes, the possibility of kidney failure, amputation, stroke, loss of life or livelihood may be at stake.


And also at stake is the trustworthiness of governments, industries, charities, healthcare professionals, teachers, and others that claim to be promoting health.


Besides the training, commitment and skill of the teacher in taking responsibility for his or her work, the helpfulness of Yoga and other health teachings/therapies depends on the student. Students are responsible for what we are seeking, for choosing our teachers, and for practising what we are taught. It seems to me that this is why traditional Yoga celebrates the teacher-student relationship with the saha nāvavatu mantra (quoted above), which can be chanted at the start of a Yoga class or practice: it consecrates the learning/healing process.


When I got my type 2 diabetes diagnosis, I was at first immobilised at a crossroad that challenged me to move in a new direction. I cannot thank Swami Ambikananda enough for guiding me into movement to save my life. Swamiji taught me the first steps of type 2 diabetes management, she told me to get a blood glucose monitor and a notebook to measure and record my blood sugar levels - tools for managing type 2 that I have been using every day since then.


Next, Swamiji told me what she had seen Swami Venkatesananda advise a man who came to him for help with type 2 diabetes. He advised the man to eat only fish and non-starchy vegetables for 3 months - no grains, no root vegetables, no beans, no fruit or fruit juices, no sweets or junk food. The man said that as a Brahmin and therefore a lifelong vegetarian he would not eat fish or meat. Swami Venkatesananda - also a Brahmin and a lifelong vegetarian - responded, "This is my advice. It's up to you."


Before I was diagnosed I was not 'obese', and I had been a vegetarian and a supporter of complementary medicine and wholistic health for many years. I did not want to taste, smell, cook, or eat fish, and I could foresee that eating fish would probably need to become a long-term change. But I decided to follow Swami Venkatesananda's advice because I chose eating fish as medicine over embarking on the path of type 2 diabetes medications and their side effects.


Eating fish was only part of my new dietary practices which had to be organised day in and day out, extending the regime of measurement from blood sugar to counting calories, controlling portion sizes, and other procedures to which diabetics have to submit in order to sustain remission by being mindful of every mouthful.


The benefits of 'yoga' for healing the physical harms of type 2 diabetes are now well established. For example, the ADA cite the benefits of stretching, flexibility and balance, and claim that 'yoga' may "improve blood glucose, blood lipids, and body composition [though the references for these particular claims are not given]."5


In my Yogasana practice I find pranayama and all aspects of training the attention and awareness of the body as a whole to be especially helpful. Also, because poor blood circulation and nerve damage in the feet are a major vulnerability for people with type 2 diabetes, Yogasana must be attuned to the condition and functioning of the feet.


In addition to asana, I especially enjoy traditional Yoga chanting and meditation.


Transcendence without the Kool Aid6


In my experience it is traditional Yoga's spiritual teachings that make it most vital for diabetes care. We need traditional Yoga's philosophy which teaches about That which is immeasurable, in order to transcend the type 2 diabetes regime of measurement - and:

  • To face the prospect of catastrophic illness and death;
  • To face our limitations and failings - because falling off the wagon of dietary self-restraint is as easy as pie any day of the week;
  • To sustain the regime of remission even as we figure out and come to terms with what constitutes liberation from it;
  • To learn to see type 2 diabetes as a great teacher, not a punishment.


Four constant spiritual supports for my learning from type 2 diabetes are:

  • Svadhyaya ~ self-study and study of authoritative texts (Patanjali Sutras, Sadhana Pada ~ Chapter 2, Verse 1);
  • The Katha Upanishad's teaching about the choice between the Two Paths that confront us at every moment ~ the Path of Sreyas (grace) and the Path of Preyas (pleasure);
  • The Uddhava Gita - a handbook for daily living;
  • The Yama and Niyama of Patanjali (Chapter 2), which provide an ethical framework for challenging the destructiveness of type 2 diabetes.


We are a Sentinel Species7


Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University, who led the scientific research studies that have finally figured out what causes type 2 diabetes, and thereby opened the possibility of arriving at a simple cost-effective and drug-free treatment in the UK and worldwide, concludes his book Life Without Diabetes with proposals about how to stop the diabetes crisis. He writes:


"The current environment promoting excessive accumulation of fat is a major problem for society as a whole…Surely…we could legislate against the provision of food in circumstances and calorie density that are toxic?" "Major international food companies act to protect profits. They devote large sums of money to spreading misinformation and bending political ears just as the big tobacco companies did prior to legislation." 8


Taylor's research has showed that every individual has a unique Personal Fat Threshold, and that this makes some people "susceptible to excess fat…in the wrong place", which amounts to a kind of "food poisoning" ~ "the most hazardous" form of which is type 2 diabetes.9 In the individual, a weight-loss regime for staying below one's Personal Fat Threshold is the only way of remitting type 2 diabetes.


The recommendations of Step 2 of the Newcastle weight-loss diet ~ the transition to sustaining remission from type 2 diabetes ~ are essentially the same as Swami Venkatesananda recommended more than forty years ago.


Taylor's comments point to the "food poisoning" known as type 2 diabetes being brought about by Big Food and Corrupt and/or Incompetent Governance. I would add Big Pharma to this duo, to reflect the vast profits made from diabetes medications whose lack of effectiveness Taylor describes as follows: "the main complications are only somewhat mitigated and … even the best conventional treatments do not eliminate the considerable risk of future health problems."10


The epidemic of type 2 diabetes is not a 'conspiracy': it is the outcome of industries acting for their own profits, and of governments supporting those industries in the name of 'economic growth'. This is choosing the path of profit and destructive (not creative) 'economic growth', instead of the path of health.


In 1896, the coal industry first used canaries to detect carbon monoxide in their mines ~ today we are the canaries in the toxic food environment consuming us. This jingle is my response.


The Song of the Diabetic Canary


To Big Food-Big Pharma-Big Corruption:
I am not your type 2 victim.
I am the self which is seeking
From the heart of this diabetic body
The Healthful Self of All.





References :


1. According to Professor Roy Taylor, in Life Without Diabetes, London, UK: Short Books, 2020, pp 25-26: "A person newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has a 50:50 chance of being on insulin injections within 10 years."
2. American Diabetes Association, Managing Type 2 Diabetes for Dummies, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2018, p 226.
3. Professor Roy Taylor, Your Simple Guide to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes, London, UK: Short Books, 2021, p 140.
4. David Perlmutter, Drop Acid, London, UK: Yellow Kite, 2022, p 82.
5. American Diabetes Association, p 185.
6. Kool Aid was an iconic American sugar-filled/fruit-flavoured powder which was added to water to make a drink. It was also what members of the People's Temple in the 1978 Jonestown Massacre/Mass Suicide were ordered to drink for their fatal dose of poison.
7. "Sentinel species are organisms…used to detect risks to humans by providing advance warning of a change. …. Some animals can act as sentinels because they are more susceptible or have greater exposure to a particular hazard than humans in the same environment. … The classic example is the 'canary in a coal mine'."
8. Taylor, Life Without Diabetes, pp 212-213.
9. Taylor, Life Without Diabetes, pp 82-83.
10. Taylor, Life Without Diabetes, p 28.




Acknowledgements :
Thanks to Ilaben, Ramilaben, Anisha, and Hemaben for cooking delicious remission-friendly food, and to Ruth for recommending Drop Acid.



©Manisha Wilmette, September 2023


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