Reversing diabetes is possible for some but change is possible for everyone

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This past March, in celebration of Nutrition Month, the Nation spoke with two Crees who have managed to take their health into their own hands, turning their high blood sugar around through diet and exercise.

While reversing diabetes to the point of being medication free is not possible for everyone, Kevin Neeposh and John Bosum did what many dream of doing – they gave up food that was making them ill, particularly refined sugar, and adopted a healthy lifestyle that included exercise. As long as they keep up the training and stay away from the sweet stuff, neither will have further need for diabetes treatment.

According to Neeposh, it all started in the spring of 2016 when he suddenly felt really off and went to the clinic. Neeposh said he was a big pop drinker and put so much sugar in his tea that his wife called it “syrup.”

Diagnosed with dangerously high blood sugar, the doctor informed Neeposh that he was diabetic.

“My mother, sister and uncle are all diabetic and I see what they live with and how much medication they have to take. The first thing I saw was all of the medication they needed to treat me with and it was then and there that it really hit me – this was all about how much sugar I was eating,” said Neeposh.

“The doctor said that I had two options: I could take pills for the rest of my life or I could change my eating habits. So that very day I changed the way I ate and the first thing I did was quit sugar.”

According to Neeposh, after cutting out sugar completely, getting sound advice from the nutritionist on what he should be eating and taking up hockey to get active, his blood sugar rapidly decreased. Eventually it got to the point where he was able to stop taking the medication. Almost two years later, Neeposh still hasn’t touched a grain of refined sugar and has managed to stay off medication.

For John Bosum, being told that he had a high blood sugar count came as a shock because he had been trying to bulk up at the gym with his power lifting. Weighing in at 343 pounds at the time, he went to a clinic in Oujé-Bougoumou and was told that he was a diabetic. Wanting a second opinion, Bosum headed to Montreal where he saw a specialist who said that his blood sugar was at 6.1 and nearing the danger zone.

Bosum started juicing, a homeopathic remedy and cut out all refined sugar from his diet as well as anything that contained flour. In addition to power lifting, Bosum took up jujitsu with his son and began competitive arm wrestling.

According to Paul Linton, a Diabetes Educator for the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, the increase in diabetes was caused by the dramatic change in lifestyle for the Cree. They went from being very active to sedentary and from a traditional diet to consuming processed, fatty and sugary foods. For some, if they change their diet and become physically active, they could drastically improve their health. But this isn’t always the case.

“Some just can’t do it no matter how hard they try and living by extremes will not help them. What we recommend at the Health Board is to make small changes, but ones that you can be consistent about. Taking small steps is always easier,” said Linton.

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