Have you ever had a major paradigm shift? Your entire life you held a certain belief or opinion, only to discover it wasn’t true? A paradigm shift occurs when the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely. It’s a radical, 360-degree turn from one way of thinking to another.

When I was 24, I thought I was the healthiest person I knew. I was very athletic. I worked out regularly, played basketball, ate a vegetarian diet, and tried my best to make good health choices. I was studying nutrition at the time and felt like I had my health under control.

Until the day I got my cholesterol tested. My university was offering free testing. I felt certain that I had an ideal level, but I decided to check it for curiosity’s sake. When the results came back, I was shocked. Despite my inflated health ego, my cholesterol was 244. This placed me at a significantly increased risk of developing heart disease. And I was only 24 years old!

“I’m not invincible.”

That was a paradigm shift. It was the first time I realized that my body wasn’t invincible. Something was missing in my health plan. I wasn’t the wellness super-star I had imagined.

Even though this experience was humbling for me, it was also very valuable. I looked for the missing links in my health plan and discovered that I needed to be more careful about my food choices. I had been eating a high fat, high cholesterol diet full of cheese, eggs, dairy, and junk food. These foods were “vegetarian,” but they weren’t healthy. They were driving my cholesterol through the roof. I quickly made changes to my diet, and soon my cholesterol came down.

30 years later, I’m still thankful for that paradigm shift. Because my paradigm changed, I was able to take action to reclaim my health.

Can diabetes be cured?

Not long after my cholesterol incident, I had another paradigm shift. This time it was about diabetes. It was 1985 and I was sitting in a medical lecture by Dr. James Anderson, who was a leading expert in diabetes research and treatment. Dr. Anderson was discussing the dramatic changes his diabetic patients had experienced. He had taken hospitalized type 2 diabetic patients with poorly controlled blood sugars and simply changed their diet from the standard American diet to a diet high in fiber and plant-based foods. Within weeks, the patients experienced dramatic improvements. Their need for insulin and oral medications dropped anywhere from 75-90 percent. Many patients improved so much that they no longer fit the diagnostic criteria for diabetes.

I could hardly believe my ears! I had always been taught that diabetes was incurable, that diabetics would struggle with the disease for the rest of their lives. But this respected physician and researcher were sharing case after case of patients who had reversed their type 2 diabetes completely. Sure, they needed to continue their healthy habits so the disease wouldn’t return, but the point is that …they didn’t have diabetes anymore!

That was the beginning of my diabetes paradigm shift. And after working with diabetics for the past twenty-five years, I’m more convinced than ever that this paradigm is true. By addressing the cause of illness, type 2 diabetics can experience dramatic health improvements, avoid complications, and possibly even reverse the condition. What a powerful paradigm!

Our healthcare system is in desperate need of a paradigm shift.

We live in the most advanced medical age in human history. We know more about healthcare than we’ve ever known before. And yet we’re sicker than ever. Lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity threaten to destroy our health and cripple our economy.

26 million Americans have diabetes, and 79 million have prediabetes. Both these conditions significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications. At least 90% of these cases are type 2 diabetes, a condition that is preventable and often reversible. Healthy lifestyle habits such as nutrition and exercise can stop diabetes in its tracks.

But wait a second! If type 2 diabetes can be improved so dramatically, why don’t we hear more about this from the medical community? Why aren’t diabetic patients taught the valuable information they need to transform their health?

Unfortunately, the prevailing medical paradigm teaches that diabetes is a chronic, ongoing disease. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. You can try to manage the disease to prevent complications, but the diagnosis will stay with you forever. Although this paradigm isn’t evidence-based, it continues to pervade much of the medical community.

In our fast-paced, money-driven healthcare system, providers often don’t have adequate time to educate patients about how to be healthy. All too often, patients are treated for the symptoms of the disease, while the underlying causes of disease are not addressed.

All too often, patients are treated for the symptoms of the disease, while the underlying causes of disease are not addressed.

Imagine that you walk into your bathroom and find a puddle of water all over the floor. You run to the closet, grab a mop, and begin cleaning it up. But despite your efforts, the puddle continues to grow. It spreads into the hallway, the living room, and bedrooms. No matter how fast you mop, the puddle grows faster. Where is the water coming from? Just then, you notice that the bathtub is overflowing and the faucet is still on. What’s your next step? Will you keep mopping, satisfied that you’re working hard to address the situation? No! You’ll turn the faucet off.

Addressing the symptoms of disease without dealing with the cause of disease is like mopping up a wet floor without turning off the faucet. It’s an outdated paradigm and it simply doesn’t work.

The good news is that, just like a faucet can be turned off, the factors that promote disease can be turned off. If you struggle with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, you don’t have to settle for a mop-up job.

You can move past the old diabetes paradigm and embrace the new.


Stay tuned for our next segment, which will go into how you can use lifestyle changes to prevent or reverse diabetes.

This was excerpted from our online course, Diabetes Undone, which walks you through the ins and outs of diabetes, and how you can get rid of the disease, once and for all. The course is on sale for a limited time only – enter the promo code SPRING17 at checkout for 40% off.


About the Author

Dr. Wes Youngberg

Dr. Wes Youngberg has over 25 years of clinical experience empowering clients to use integrative lifestyle therapies to prevent, reverse, or improve diabetes heart disease, depression, and many other health conditions. He’s the author of Goodbye Diabetes and Hello Healthy. He trained at Loma Linda University, earning a doctor of public health degree in clinical preventative care and a master of public health degree in nutrition. He is an assistant clinical professor for the Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Youngberg is also a certified nutrition specialist and a founding director and fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

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