“I think I’m going to do a 40-day fast,” said Nicole one Thursday evening in February of this year.
“Are you sure?” I said. My wife had only started intentionally experimenting with fasting (on distilled water) around the turn of the new year. Prior to that, Nicole would only skip meals when she felt too unwell to eat. Since the New Year, we’d been doing 24-36 hour regular fasts each week. That Thursday was the evening of one of those weekly fasts.
“I feel like I need to keep on going,” she said.
And so she did. She made it to day 38. But considering how little she ate on day 39 and 40 (and how quickly it came right back up) you might say she made it to day 40. So much happened over those 40 days (and 40 nights), it’ll take several posts to share it all (subscribe, so you don’t miss out). The goal, of course, was to improve her kidney function and get her off dialysis. She started the fast barely producing 5ml of urine a day. She ended the fast urinating 100ml per day. Not a complete cure, but a big improvement.
But kidney function is not what I wanted to focus on today. Instead, another, surprising phenomena happened while fasting. Around day five Nicole started to experience low blood sugars and had to reduce her basal insulin needs. She normally took about 18 units of Levemir a day. (Nicole tends to need that much basal insulin in the frigid Canadian winter months). By day 20 she was down to 4u per day.
Actually she would take only a half unit of Levemir every six hours. We found this avoided any low blood sugars. Usually she would also need an additional half-unit of Humalog to account for a slight rise in blood sugar. Sometimes, there was no rise. It felt so bizarre and hopeful.
Thinking that she may be producing some of her own insulin she had a C-peptide test. As you may know, pharmaceutical insulin does not contain C-peptides. C-peptides appear when proinsulin splits apart in the pancreas. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry uses this test “to help determine how much insulin a person’s pancreas is still producing…” If the test found any in Nicole bloodstream that would be a sign her beta cells were resurrecting themselves. Sadly, the test results showed not a trace of C-peptide in her bloodstream. Also, when she started using utensils again, her long-acting insulin needs returned to about 16 units a day (even if she fasted for 24 or 36 hours).
So why did she need less basal insulin during the fast? We speculated about many different possibilities. It wasn’t, however, until about a month ago that I think I figured out why her need for insulin diminished by almost 75%. It turned out not to be specifically caused by fasting. Instead it was due to a single, zero-carb ingredient used in all her meals, that she was no longer consuming during the fast (since she was only drinking distilled water).
Once I knew what I was looking for, I discovered plenty of research and evidence showing that this one common ingredient will release glycogen from the liver and even convert muscle tissue into sugar. At the same time, it may be reducing the effectiveness of insulin and the ability of cells to absorb glucose. It takes between 12-24 hours for this ingredient to clear from our bodies (if the kidneys and liver are healthy). So it’s not something one would spot with a glucometer after each meal. Like long-acting insulin, it’s also long-lasting.
Next post, I’ll reveal what this mystery ingredient is. I would never have suspected it causes blood sugar to rise (via a two-step process in the bloodstream). If you think you can guess, drop me an email. First person to get it right receives fleeting internet notoriety in the next post (plus a print copy mailed to them of the September issue of a journal I’m publishing on this very subject).
If you have type-1 diabetes, you can test removing the ingredient from your diet and see how it affects your long-acting insulin needs. I’ll be dedicating many future posts to presenting the evidence showing how it raises blood sugar. In addition, I think it also causes damage to small blood vessels. So if you like your kidneys, brain, toes and retinas, you’ll have more than one reason to test this theory out. Plus, removing it from the diet seems to improve detoxification, while reducing tension throughout the body.
One last hint: This troublesome ingredient was absent from the diet of nearly all aboriginal cultures prior to contact with Europeans. Despite having access to this ingredient natives had a very strong aversion to it. They would rather starve than eat food containing it.
Thinking outside the type-1 matrix,
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. “Fasting is the greatest remedy,” wrote Paracelsus, “the physician within.” For guidance on fasting you may wish to order a copy of Paul Bragg’s classic book, The Miracle of Fasting: Proven Throughout History for Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Rejuvenation. It’s available from amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk.
P.P.S. On the subject of low blood sugar, you may wish to read: How to Fix Low Blood Sugars Without Going High.