The following is a letter I’m sending to the local newspaper in response to an article they printed for “Diabetes Month”:
I appreciate the efforts of the your newspaper and its sponsor to help diabetics. Nonetheless, I found the article entitled “Navigating the holidays with diabetes” (in November 13) propagated misinformation which leads to physical and mental illness for diabetics.
My wife, Nicole, has had type-1 diabetes since she was 10 years-old. 37 years of trying to control blood sugars with the ineffective dietary guidelines and insulin regime given by the Canadian Diabetes Association has resulted in a long-list of side-effects. She has suffered vision loss, kidney failure, a still birth, neuropathy, gastroparesis, heart failure, insomnia, inflammation, tachycardia, severe depression and inflammatory bowel disease. Having been married for 11 years, I also am well aware of the daily struggles of trying to control blood sugar with insulin injections.
Two years ago, Nicole’s HgbA1C was 7.0%. A non-diabetic, like myself, has an HgbA1C of 5.4% or less. Most diabetics are thrilled if they can get it down to 6.5%. Today, Nicole’s HgbA1C is 5.2% and has gone as low as 4.7%. She no longer suffers from depression. Her sleep has dramatically improved. Inflammation has decreased substantially. Her digestion is better. She also rarely suffers from severe low blood sugars. It’s like living with a different person. Many nights she was so sick we questioned whether she’d wake up in the morning (if she actually fell asleep, that is). In contrast, every month we now notice improvements in her health.
How has she seen such a dramatic improvement in blood sugar management? Mainly by ignoring the standard advice given to diabetics. For example, as the article you printed states, “foods with a lot of fat… can be problematic.” This typical statement can be disproved with a blood glucose meter (obtainable for free from most pharmacies). Dietary fat has almost zero effect on blood sugar. A diabetic who produces no insulin, could eat tablespoon after tablespoon of butter and see only a minute rise in blood sugar. So why is fat a problem?
My wife switched to a diet where most of her calories comes from animal fat and olive oil, instead of starches (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes) and sugars (e.g. fruit). Not only did her blood sugar become much more stable, her triglycerides normalized. Yes, her cholesterol actually improved by consuming cholesterol-rich fat. A fact proven by large-scale studies in Europe and a million years of human evolution.
Her meals consist mainly of meat, cooked vegetables and animal fat. She avoids all grains, starchy vegetables and fruit. This is a diet similar to what anthropologist believe primitive man ate for most of human history. Her blood sugar has become far easier to control and requires half as much insulin. Her physical and psychological health continues to improve. She has gained muscle mass (without exercising) but otherwise remains very lean (despite eating lots of fat). She also is no longer plagued by sugar cravings – despite eating less than 50g of carbohydrates a day. Her brain function is slowly returning to normal.
A high-fat, low-carb diet has been officially adopted by the Swedish government to treat weight gain and diabetes after reviewing 16,000 studies. Yes, some people carry it too far by avoiding even vegetables. But we’ve found that by including a generous amount of non-startchy vegetables in the diet, their are no side-effects.
The approach is quite logical and easy to grasp. It would save Canada billions of dollars a year in health care costs. And it would save millions of diabetics from the horrible complications and daily frustrations resulting from out-of-control blood sugars.
Sadly, the medical system continues to prescribe too much insulin to diabetics. This results in them having to cover their high insulin dosages with large amounts of carbohydrates. The reverse makes more sense. Prescribe a moderate amount of carbohydrates (mainly from high-fiber vegetables) and cover it with a small amount of insulin. This avoids the endless mistakes in dosing insulin that result in low and high blood sugars. Using this approach, my wife can skip meals without any fear of hypoglycemia.
Why is this information not more well known? Why is not Diabetes Awareness Month being used to actually share scientifically proven and simple methods to remove the physical and mental hardship from the lives of diabetics?
Sadly the only conclusion I can draw is that this approach is not used because it requires much smaller doses of insulin. This would literally means billions of dollars in lost sales for pharmaceutical companies. It also focuses on low-profit foods, such as fresh produce, unprocessed meats and natural animals fats. These have a short shelf life, producing less profit than grains, seed oils and sugars and sugar substitutes.
If Nicole had been aware of this high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb alternative to managing diabetes thirty years ago, I doubt she’d be receiving dialysis three times a week at Stratford General. How many more diabetics must suffer and die before commonsense, low-cost and effective solutions for managing this disease are shared?
I invite anyone who is interested to visit our blog at www.diabeticdharma.com to view copies of her lab results and learn more about Nicole’s journey from death’s door to more stable blood sugars and improved health. Indeed, Nicole used to be admitted to the hospital at least once a year. Not only has she not been admitted, she has not even suffered a cold in the last 12 months. Her blood pressure has also decreased.
Telling diabetics to avoid fat, eat fruit and enjoy baked goods “in moderation” is nothing short of malpractice, in my opinion, on the part of the medical system. By limiting fat in the diet, this naturally leads to cravings for sugary and starchy food. Instead of featuring a picture of a diabetic eating a gingerbread cookie, I think your article would have better shown a diabetic sitting down to a plate of Christmas turkey, with some carrots and turnips on the side. Maybe a few nuts for desert.
John C. A. Manley
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Hopefully they might print some of the letter, considering we are still in the midst of Diabetes Awareness month. The article they printed was surrounded by ads from local businesses touting cute sayings like “Diabetes – Don’t Sugar Coat It” and “Your Partner in Diabetes.” It all seemed rather condescending. It’s almost like there exists a strategy of “sympathize and confuse” so diabetics will continue following advice that does not work.
Personally, I have no idea why someone with diabetes would turn to an anonymous article in their local newspaper for advice on how to handle their disease.
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. For far better advice on how to control blood sugar I highly recommend Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.
P.P.S. For more information about how the Swedish government has adopted a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet for obesity and diabetes please read: Swedish Expert Committee: A Low-Carb Diet Most Effective for Weight Loss