Diabetes is essentially excessive glucose in the blood. In the normal course of events insulin is produced by the pancreas which prevents the build up of blood glucose. In Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) there is an inherent weakness in the ability to secrete sufficient insulin and in Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) the amount of glucose released from the food constituents is so great that the body is unable to produce enough insulin to deal with it. There is general agreement that the above is correct. Hence the solution would appear to be obvious. Reduce the intake of sugar and other foods which contribute to the build up of glucose in the blood. Unfortunately there has been relatively little research done to confirm the logic of this argument. Most the finance is for research designed to find a cure for the disease, which if successful can provide a profitable income for the drug manufacturer.

Despite this there are numerous case studies of individuals who have achieved considerable success in tackling diabetes by making changes to their diets.

The case studies below have been sourced from an excellent website (1). These are just a selection of what is available and certainly make interesting reading.

CASE STUDY NO 1

I was diagnosed with Type 2 just over 2 years ago at a routine new patient check up with the doctor…… who told me that I had to eat 14 portions of carbs a day. My stats at diagnosis were BG 23, cholesterol 9.4, triglycerides 5.9 and weight 107 kgs….. . I duly went away and followed the GP’s advice and spent 3 months feeling iller and iller………. I put on another 8kgs and at my follow up 3 months later my HbA1C was 9.7, cholesterol 9.1, triglycerides 5.9 and weight 115kgs. I also suffered crippling pains in my hands so bad that I had to soak them in hot water several times a day to stop them cramping completely…… As I was doing so badly, I again had to see the GP who told me off for gaining weight, told me to eat more carbs….. Went home feeling completely depressed and feeling like death. At this point I decided to do some research and found out about low carbing….. I have low carbed ever since with the support of my diabetic nurse and have never felt better. I have gone from a dress size 28 to a size 14 and my last stats were HbA1C 5.2, cholesterol 4.8, triglycerides 1.2.

CASE STUDY NO 2

 I just tried to lose weight and measure my blood sugar levels more frequently which revealed that certain carbohydrates that I was eating elevated my blood sugar level higher and for longer. That group included potatoes, bread and bran flakes which when eliminated allowed me to reduce my insulin from 90 units per day to zero. My BMI has reduced from 29.5 to just below 25 and my A1C reading runs at circa 5.8%. I have now been off insulin for the past 36 months after 14 years of twice daily injections.

CASE STUDY NO 3

I had been on insulin (high doses) for Type 2 for about 10 years until a new consultant at the diabetic clinic realised my body had become insulin-resistant….  My BMI at the time was 32.1. With Reductil and a low carb diet (cereal for breakfast and two small (new) potatoes or similar with my evening meal) I have seen the weight drop off over the last 9 months. My BMI is down to 24 (loss of 20 kgs) and I have been taken off insulin!

CASE STUDY NO 4

A few months ago I posted about a trip to podiatrist where he lambasted me for being on a low carb diet. When I last saw him I was crippled with neuropathy and could hardly walk. He was advocating pregabalin to ease the pain.

Today I walked in, no pain, full feeling in both feet and he was amazed and suggested the pregabalin must be working well. His jaw dropped when I told him I was not on any medication and the results he was seeing were purely as a result of my low carb approach, and he went bright red when I told him I had also lost a stone and a half in weight. He was trying to protest that ketosis was a danger and again I corrected him pointing out the difference between the ketosis and the other one (which I can’t spell!!)
The argument that we need carbs for certain nutrients also fell on stony ears as I corrected him and explained why we didn’t. Eventually, still shaking his head in disbelief, he acknowledged that I had made a remarkable recovery and that my diet had worked.

I told him that if he had other patients who desired a cure rather than more and more drugs he should refer them to me so I could point them in this direction.

CASE STUDY NO 5

I really don’t see how anyone can even query the evidence that a low carb diet works. I was diagnosed in December 2007, my HbA1c reading was 9, my everyday sugar reading was in the late teens. I didn’t know much about diabetes so read every book going. All the so called experts told me to eat carbs with every meal. I was going out one evening and needed to take my own food with me, I decided to take some pasta, the boring brown stuff of course. Before I went out my sugar reading was 11 and after I ate the pasta it was 16. I wrote down everything I ate and my sugar readings 3 times a day, I soon discovered that my sugar would increase if I ate bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. It didn’t take a genius or expect to work this one out, so I stopped eating complex carbs completely. Within 4 months my HbA1c was down to 6.5, now… 20 months later my HbA1c is 5.8 and my everyday sugar is in the 5’s and hardly moves…. of course it goes higher when I have just eaten but it is back down in the 4’s and 5’s 2 hours after eating. The great thing is… now I can actually eat carbs and sugar without my sugar being affected, yes it goes up after eating cake and ice cream but it goes right back to normal. I’ve tested my son and husbands sugar before and after eating carbs and their’s is the same as mine. What I would like to know is… cutting out carbs.. can it cure diabetes? The experts will say no of course.. but this is food for thought!

CASE STUDY NO 6

I was diagnosed in november 2010 as a T2, 60 years old, and placed on “diet and exercise” to control it. The dietician told me to eat lots of starchy foods, and told me for example that I didn’t eat enough potatos. I increased my intake, but took BS readings after sample meals.2 hours after one starchy meal with boiled potatos etc, my readings were 13.1. I often had readings over 11. I started to change the meals that gave me high readings without knowing what a low carb diet was; I ignored the dietician and went back to less spuds. I started to realise that reducing carbs reduced my readings………
My post meal BS readings now rarely go over 8, and average less than 7. I’ve lost over a stone (although I’ve not been trying to; my BMI was only 25 anyway, but now it’s 23) and my blood pressure is down. Fasting glucose levels are down from just over 7 to just over 6. So lowish carbs seem to suit me.

For another case study, see reference (2).

CONCLUSIONS

Ideally we should have carefully controlled studies which would provide definitive answers on how to deal with diabetes. Nevertheless fact that so many individuals are reaching essentially the same conclusion is extremely convincing. Furthermore the results are fully in line with what would be expected. Invariably a reduction in the consumption of sugar and foods which contain starch (which is broken down to glucose) is accompanied by a lowering in the level of glucose in the blood. It is especially encouraging that some of the individuals cited here have been able to eliminate their medication completely. It is absolutely appalling that many patients with diabetes are being advised to lower their fat intake and to increase their consumption of carbohydrate-containing foods. As some of the more astute patients have discovered, the effect of implementing this advice is to increase the blood sugar levels. In other words, the condition is being made worse!

A close look at these case studies also show that the low carbohydrate diet almost invariably is associated with a reduction in body weight. Again this seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. It is usual for those who are attempting to lose weight by calorie counting to cut down on fat, on the grounds that fat is a concentrated source of calories. However there are now convincing reasons to conclude that much of the carbohydrate is converted into fat, which is then stored. Therefore the more carbohydrate that is consumed the greater the storage, which means weight gain and ultimately obesity. This also explains why a person who maintains a diet high in carbohydrate continually feels hungry and so eats very large amounts of food. By contrast, the fat which originates in the food is readily available to meet the requirements of the body, resulting in a feeling of satiety (3).

To put it simply, the body cannot cope effectively with a diet which is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates so it is advisable to control the amounts consumed. On the other hand the body can handle fat successfully, provided that the hydrogenated/trans fats are avoided as much as possible (4). It is also advisable to limit the intake of PUFAs (5).

 

NOTES

  1. Hb1Ac is a measure of the amount of haemoglobin which has got glucose attached to it and is therefore an indication of the average content of glucose that has been present in the blood in the recent past. Values in the range 4.0 to 5.9% are considered normal and so higher values demonstrate that the blood glucose levels are excessive.
  2. The blood glucose(BG) levels recommended by the International Diabetes Federation are shown below:

 

 

IDF recommended target blood    glucose level ranges

Target Levels
by Type

Before meals
(pre prandial)

2 hours after
(post prandial)

Non-diabetic

4.0 to 5.9 mmol/L

under 7.8 mmol/L*

Type 2 diabetes

4 to 7 mmol/L

under 8.5 mmol/L

Type 1 diabetes

4 to 7 mmol/L

under 9 mmol/L

Children w/ diabetes

4 to 8 mmol/L

under 10 mmol/L

 

  1. Triglycerides are a measure of the fat content of the blood and provide a much better indication of the risk of developing heart disease than total cholesterol. A value of < 1.7 mmol/L is considered to be low risk.
  2. Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated from weight and height. The ideal is considered to be between 20 and 25. The reliability of this index as an indication of obesity is debatable but nevertheless a reduction BMI shows that there has been weight loss.

REFERENCES

  1. www.diabetes.co.uk
  2. http://vernerwheelock.com/?p=229
  3. Gary Taubes (2007) “The Diet Delusion” Vermillion: London p393
  4. http://vernerwheelock.com/?p=354
  5. http://vernerwheelock.com/?p=153