Diabetes gets worse
One of the greatest scandals of modern times is the advice offered by the mainstream medical and healthcare professionals to those who are diagnosed with both Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and Type 2 (T2D). With respect to diet, they are encouraged to reduce their intake of fat and to increase complex carbohydrates. The inevitable result is that there is no improvement in the condition: Invariably it gets worse.
On top of all this, the incidence continues to increase as do the costs to the NHS. The issue is not restricted to the UK: there is a similar pattern in many other countries. The extent of debilitation and suffering experienced by those affected can realistically be compared with other large scale disasters such as war or famine.
Excess sugar and carbs
The unique aspect of diabetes is that it is comparatively easy to resolve. It has been established that the cause of T2D is excessive consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. There is compelling evidence and numerous case histories, which demonstrate conclusively that the disease can be controlled successfully by switching to a diet low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats (LCHF). This is in direct conflict with the standard advice from the mainstream sources.
Despite repeated submissions and requests for a thorough review of the current national policies, politicians and leaders of the professionals remain in denial and persist with policies that are self-evidently not working.
Pathetic official report
In the UK, Government and officials simply pass off the responsibility to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) which produced a report on “Carbohydrates and Health” in 2015 (1). The report itself is absolutely pathetic. It simply lumps together the results of various investigations and invariably concludes that there is “no association” between T2D and the intake of total carbohydrates. There is not the slightest indication of any attempt to understand what causes T2D and why the incidence continues to grow. There is no reference to the outstanding work of Gerald Reaven, who has proposed the theoretical framework for the “Metabolic Syndrome”. This provides valuable insight the relationships between a wide range of diseases/conditions including T2D, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, stroke and cancer. The common factor is hyperinsulinaemia (too much insulin), which can only be caused by excessive consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. When there is an excessive amount of insulin in the body, this causes insulin resistance (IR), which is very often the start of a process that results in a chronic disease. The failure to address these issues means the report lacks credibility.
Personal case histories
I have lost count of the number of cases related to me by individuals with the same story, which is this:
“I was diagnosed with T2D and followed the advice by my GP/dietitian to reduce my fat intake and increase the carbohydrates. My health deteriorated so I did my own investigations using the internet (or I watched a television programme) and decided to try the LCHF approach. Within a short time I had lost weight and began to feel much better. Over a longer period, tests on my blood confirmed that I was getting my blood sugars under control.”
If this was just one or two isolated cases, they could be discounted. The fact that it has been repeated hundreds of times and is in agreement with reliable research studies means that there is at least a prima facia case that the effects are genuine. If further proof was needed, then go to Southport where GP Dr. David Unwin is successfully using this approach to treat patients with T2D and in the process, his practice is saving £40,000 in the cost of drugs prescribed.
It simply beggars belief that the politicians are so inept that they are incapable of challenging the so-called “experts” in order to implement a policy that would solve one of our intractable problems.
Tackling the problem
If we are to make any progress, it is essential to try to understand how things have gone wrong and why there is such powerful resistance to any attempt to introduce a policy based on sound science. What is so perplexing is that it would make such good sense from a political perspective. The health of many would be improved instead of getting worse, which is what happens at present. On top of all this, the costs to the NHS and other healthcare systems would be reduced. Surely any policy that achieves these objectives would be a guaranteed vote winner. Yet the reality is that they fail to act. Clearly they are so inept that they are incapable of challenging the “experts” and accept their recommendations without question. This is despite the fact that there are thousands of individuals who have discovered for themselves that by complying with the official advice their health has deteriorated. By contrast, when they do the exact opposite with respect to diet, within a very short time, there is a noticeable improvement. By dismissing these, the politicians are effectively condemning them as liars and charlatans.
So why is it that so many leaders of the medical and health professions stick so rigidly to views and conclusions that are manifestly wrong? One of the difficulties is that it is not easy to relate cause and effect. If a building collapses or an aircraft crashes, invariably there is a detailed investigation and the cause is established and generally accepted. However the relationships between diet and disease are more complex. There are usually several factors and the relative importance of each is not readily determined. Hence it is easy to persist with dubious concepts long after their credibility has been undermined.
All of this is facilitated by the following:
- Competence. It is inevitable that most of those invited to participate in these exercises are specialists in their own discipline and have little or no knowledge of the other disciplines. Furthermore, the majority are unlikely to have insight and possibly even interest in the social and economic aspects that are crucial to the development of policy. Genuine progress requires relating the different specialist areas to each other. The skills and attributes to do this successfully are different from those required by the single discipline specialist.
In fact, the personality traits are probably in conflict because one is essentially “analytical” whereas the other has to weigh up evidence from a wide range of different sources and reach a balanced conclusion. There is little recognition of the need for these skills so there are few opportunities for people to develop careers in these areas. In practice, what often happens is that a few forceful personalities dominate proceedings and the rest go along. Because this is apparently the “consensus” of many of the leading relevant scientists, the conclusions have an aura of credibility that is not justified.
- Conflict of interest: money talks and finance causes or exacerbates many of the aspects described. Professor Barry Popkin gave insight in a contribution in The BMJ, when he said: :
“The major issue is that first and foremost, the food industry has paid prominent scientists to conduct studies, which blatantly are designed to give answers questioning other science that goes against the industry, and also and these individuals usually act as advisers and consultants with the intent of countering potentially damaging scientific evidence. But this is based on funding studies directly relevant to that industry and then having the scholars speak up for the industry. There are clear cases where the industry has bought scientists and science as noted above and the big sugar and big beverage area is absolutely filled with such scholars. (2)”
- Hubris: an excess of confidence, as in a boxer who shouts “I’m the greatest!” even though he’s about to get pummelled by a much stronger opponent. In my education as a scientist, I learned that one of the fundamental tenets of science is that you set up a hypothesis that has to be tested. If the results of the investigation demonstrate that the hypothesis was not valid, you have to start again with a new hypothesis. Even a working hypothesis that has been around for years is subject to continuous testing and may eventually fail.
Many of our so-called leading scientists appear to have forgotten the basics, or perhaps never learned them in the first place. To them, a hypothesis to which they subscribe has become a personal belief. They regard anyone who has the temerity to question this working hypothesis as an attack on their reputation. They feel compelled to defend themselves usually by denouncing those who challenge the status quo.
Conclusion Whatever the reasons for this failure it is as plain as a pikestaff that the standards of competence and integrity by the professionals and the politicians are extremely poor. If policies are to be successful, we must have clear objectives and the capability of measuring the effectiveness of different strategies. All the indications are that this is not happening and that goals are not being achieved and that those responsible are not being held to account. It is a very sad reflection on the state of democracy. It is very difficult to provide solutions. I can only hope that as more and more people understand what is going on pressure for improvements will be generated.