WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - Marc Ramirez wasn't surprised when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002. His mother took pills for diabetes as far back as he can remember. He thought his own diagnosis was a life sentence.
"I grew up believing and understanding, based on everything I read and everything I had been told, ‘Hey, you are going to be diabetic,’” Mark recalled. “It's genetic and there is not much you can do about it.”
His wife, Kim, worried about his future.
"I felt like there was a storm coming to our family," she said.
Ten years later and Marc had Type 2 diabetes, taking insulin shots and two oral medications. He had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A change needed to be made.
"On December 3, 2011, Kim and I adopted a whole-food, plant-based diet," he said.
It's a lifestyle based around fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
"Within days, I saw my glucose levels plummet," Marc recalled. "I was off all five of my medications in two months and then, in three months, I shed 50 pounds."
Wesley Chapel Endocrinologist Soham Patel said research has shown for decades that a plant-based lifestyle can reverse diabetes and improve other chronic conditions.
"Really working on cutting back on animal foods helps you reverse insulin resistance in many cases. That leads to improvements in sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol simultaneously," said Dr. Patel.
It takes a serious commitment from patients, as well as doctors, he added.
"The data is there,” Dr. Patel explained. “The question is, ‘Can we, as physicians, recognize that and use it as a tool?’"
Now Kim and Mark are known as "Chickpea and Bean," a non-profit company that educates people on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.
"We felt thrilled and we also felt frustrated because we know there are people out there who are suffering who can really benefit from eating this way," Kim said.
Their website offers online classes, recipes, and tips for a whole food diet.
"We tell people we don't care how old or young you are. We don't care how sick you are. If you start jam-packing the amazing machines, our bodies, with the right foods you're going to get better," said Marc.
Dr. Patel said nutrition has a large impact on treating chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, but it's not the whole picture. He said exercise, stress levels, and sleep are equally important.
LINK: Learn more about Chickpea and Bean by clicking here