There is absolutely no doubt that diabetes is one of the major public health issues throughout the world at the present time. Here in Great Britain, the incidence in both men and women has more than doubled in the last 15 years. If current trends continue then it is likely that there will be 5 million cases by the year 2025 in the UK (1). As the condition usually manifests itself later in life this means that a very high proportion of the population is at risk. In fact diabetes is only the tip of the iceberg as those diagnosed with the disease have an increased risk of developing a range of other diseases/conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity and various cancers.
The conventional approach is to prescribe various forms of medication in order to control the blood glucose levels and to advise patients to lose weight. The fact that the numbers affected continue to increase demonstrates very clearly that this is not working. With respect to diet, invariably the advice is in line with the official recommendations. Essentially this means people are told that they need to reduce calories, reduce fat, especially saturated fat (SFA) and increase the complex carbohydrates.
It is not in the least surprising that those who follow this advice fail in their attempts to control the disease. The sources of carbohydrates, which are recommended, contain high quantities of starch which is broken down in the alimentary tract to produce glucose which is then absorbed into the blood. So the effect is to increase the concentration of the glucose in the blood, which is the last thing a diabetic would want. Instead of helping to alleviate the problem the dietary carbohydrates are actually causing it to get worse!
To bring this home I will refer to the personal experience of individuals based on their own case histories (2):
- By the time John had reached the age of 60 years he had been suffering from diabetes for 10 years, during which time it had slowly progressed. He had been prescribed Metformin by his GP and been advised to “eat plenty of starchy carbohydrate”. At this point he started to monitor his blood glucose. As a consequence he soon learned the effect that different foods had on his blood glucose levels. By using that information and gradually changing his diet over the next two years, he fully overcame his Type 2 diabetes. The main thing he did was to cut out almost all the starchy carbohydrates – e.g. cereals, bread, potatoes, pizza. He was also very careful with rice and pasta. In John’s opinion this was far and away the main reason for the dramatic improvement in his blood glucose levels, which meant that he able to stop taking the Metformin altogether.
- Kate is a lively 63 year old grandmother who 3 years earlier was diagnosed as pre-diabetic as a routine test showed she had a raised blood sugar level. She was given very little advice and just handed a booklet to read. She followed the advice in the booklet which was to eat plenty of starchy carbohydrate foods, which actually resulted in significant weight gain. Despite this her GP told her to carry on as before. A subsequent test showed that the blood glucose had become even higher and that Kate had developed full blown diabetes. At this point she decided to take control herself. This is the story in her own words:
“I decided to take charge of my own disease and destiny, embarking on a read, read and more read programme, it soon made perfect sense that the carbs were the culprit! My newly appointed Diabetes nurse was aghast at my new regime of low carbing, “On your own head be it” were her words! Pretty soon, she had to eat her words as the BG (blood glucose) began to fall without the help of medication and although I wasn’t grossly overweight, my body became toned and healthy at a near perfect 9 stones. The HbA1c result after 8 months was 5.7 and at this juncture, the nurse no longer had an argument, indeed she began to ask me about my regime, taking notes whilst I sang the praises of low carbing,”
Note: HbA1c is glycated haemoglobin which gives a picture of the average blood sugar over a period of several weeks. If it above 6.5% this is considered to be diabetic. A value below 5.9% is regarded as normal.
- Another John also obtained very good results by reducing his intake of carbohydrates. Here is his story:
“In 2003 I weighed 95kg. At 1.83m and large-framed I felt comfortable with myself but knew I was overweight. However, during the period 2006 – 2008 my weight slowly increased to 125kg and I was also exhibiting the familiar symptoms of diabetes – fatigue, frequent urination and thirst. I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic in March 2008. Upon diagnosis, my test results were as follows.
Weight 125kg HbA1c 8.2% BP 167/105 Total/HDL Cholesterol 2.99
In the first three months after diagnosis I read extensively about the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels and decided upon a low carbohydrate dietary approach in an attempt to achieve normal blood glucose levels. I decided to drop rice, pasta, potato, bread and pastry/baked products from my diet and replace them with more meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, dairy foods and nuts. …….Since then all my quarterly HbA1c have all been below 5.5 without the aid of medication and my weight has dropped back down to 95kg with fatigue, frequent urination and thirst gone. My latest annual review results are as follows.
Weight 95kg HbA1c 5.3% BP 120/80 Total/HDL Cholesterol 1.9
I really do believe that the low carb diet is the simplest and most effective method of reducing and stabilising blood glucose levels.”
It is evident that all the numbers have moved in the right direction. John lost about 30 kg and his HbAc1 has come down from the diabetic to normal levels. There was a huge improvement in his blood pressure and values below 4 are considered to be satisfactory for the ratio of Total Cholesterol/HDL Cholesterol.
I find these case histories to be very convincing because it is precisely what would be expected. Diabetes is caused by excess sugar in the blood. This sugar originates in the food so reduce the dietary sugar and the cause is removed! This is not exactly rocket science. It simply beggars belief that so many in the health professions just do not get it. As long as the current attitudes persist it will be impossible to control diabetes and large numbers of people will continue to suffer what is a very nasty and debilitating disease.