On return from holiday, you open the front door and discover that there is water all over the place. Obviously there has been a leak somewhere and the house is flooded. As soon as you get over the shock, you call a plumber. Just imagine your reaction if you are told that it is impossible to stop the flow of water. You must to accept that you have to cope as best you can with this excess water. There may be scope for diverting some of the water but you will have to do what you can with buckets and mops as long as the house is still standing.
This is absolutely ridiculous. There is no question that the leak can be fixed and that as a consequence the flooding can be stopped. The house can be cleaned up and the occupants can repair any damage and get on with their lives. If one plumber says the problem cannot be solved then no doubt another one will be found who can provide a satisfactory solution.
Although you may think the scenario painted here is ludicrous, the point I am trying to make is that Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is an exact parallel. Instead of your house being flooded with water your body is being flooded with sugar. The excess water causes damage to furniture, carpets, services such as electricity and gas, and possibly even the structure. Similarly excess sugar in the blood sticks to proteins so that their function is impaired. It combines with haemoglobin so that the efficiency of oxygen transport is reduced. As a consequence the extremities may be starved of oxygen, which explains why it is sometimes necessary to amputate the limbs of those who suffer from T2D. Internal organs, especially the brain can also be damaged. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease is increased very substantially in diabetics. Excess glucose in the blood stimulates the production of insulin, which is required by the body to deal with the glucose. However the high levels of insulin also cause internal damage as shown by insulin resistance in many organs.
The top priority must be to prevent the build-up of sugar inside the body. The solution is obvious. Identify the source and stop the flow in just the same way as you stop the flood in your house.
However unless you are fortunate enough to have one of the very few enlightened doctors that are about in the UK, you will be given the official line as illustrated by the NHS Choices website which tells us quite bluntly there is no cure for T2D (1). This means that if you have been diagnosed with T2D, you will need to look after your health very carefully for the rest of your life. Furthermore your GP will be able to explain your condition in detail and help you to understand your treatment. If there are any problems, you may be referred to a hospital-based diabetes care team, which will closely monitor your condition to identify any health problems that may occur.
It goes on to say that T2D usually gets worse over time and although lifestyle changes may help to control blood glucose levels, eventually medication will probably be needed. There are various combinations of drugs that can be used, culminating with insulin that has to be applied by injection.
To return to the house flooding analogy, what this means is that you will just have to put up with the effects of the excess water as long as you remain in that house. However there is now overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources that T2D can be cured or at worst alleviated in exactly the same way as in a flooded house: you simply stop most of the sugar from entering the body. The specific form of sugar in the blood which is causing the trouble is glucose. This originates from the diet. First of all, there is the ordinary table sugar which is broken down to glucose and fructose. Although fructose does not accumulate in the blood, there is growing evidence that it also causes harm inside the body. Secondly, there are the foods such as potatoes, flour, bread, rice and pasta that contain starch, which is broken down into glucose. The answer is blindingly obvious, reduce the consumption of those foods which contribute to the glucose in the body. If we go back to official source of information we find that the dietary advice is that:
“The important thing in managing diabetes through your diet is to eat regularly and include starchy carbohydrates, such as pasta….”
This is absolutely unbelievable because it means that more glucose will enter the body when action should be taken to reduce it. This is like telling the flooded householder that it is a good idea to let the bath overflow fairly regularly!
The Diabetes UK website states that:
“Carbohydrate is a nutrient that is an important source of energy in the diet. All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is essential fuel for the body, especially the brain.”
It goes on to advise that we should limit our intake of saturated fat and choose the ‘low fat’ versions where possible (2).
This really is rubbish! The body is perfectly capable of using fat as a source of energy, although it may take a few days to adapt. Carbohydrates are not required. There is overwhelming evidence that people can lead a perfectly healthy life with a minimal amount of carbohydrates in their diet. The brain can utilise ketones (which are derived from fat) as a source of energy.
Low fat foods are disastrous for diabetics because the fat is often replaced by sugar which makes the disease even worse.
To cap it all, recent research has indicated that the standard treatments are ineffective. In a study using information from databases in Saskatchewan on 12,272 patients with T2D, it was found that the all-cause mortality rate increased with exposure to insulin (3). Table 1 shows that those with the highest exposure had almost 3 times the death rate of those who were not treated with insulin. A similar trend was found for death due to cardiovascular diseases.
Table 1. Relationship between insulin exposure and mortality
Information obtained from almost 50,000 patients with T2D on the UK General Practice Research Database between November 1986 and November 2008 was used to relate all-cause mortality to the type of treatment (4). It was found that those who successfully reduced their blood sugars using insulin-based therapy had an all-cause mortality which was 49% higher than those who were not treated in this way and had higher blood sugars. These treatments equate to the mop and buckets attempts to deal with the flooded house.
There is ample research to demonstrate that T2D can be cured by simply reducing the consumption of those foods which release the glucose into the blood (5). This is confirmed by hundreds of personal case histories from individuals who have transformed their lives by this approach. What is particularly impressive is that many of these have been able to cease all medication, which is proof of the success that has been achieved. One good example is that of a medical doctor in Canada, Dr. Jay Wortman. Here is how he describes his experience:
“The first thing that happened was that my blood sugar normalized. This was almost instant and was followed by a dramatic and steady loss of weight. I started dropping about a pound a day. My other symptoms swiftly vanished, too. I started seeing clearly, the excessive urination and thirst disappeared, my energy level went up and I began to feel immensely better.” (6).
Still not convinced, then have a look at what Dr. Jason Fung in Toronto has achieved. He actually persuades his patients to subject themselves to a period of fasting. It is somewhat surprising that this is not as traumatic as one would expect. While the first day or 2 may be difficult, Dr. Fung has found that within a short time the ability to utilize fat is activated quite quickly, so that the body can draw on the stores of fat to meet the requirements for energy. Although it may take some time for substantial weight loss to manifest itself, there is a rapid reduction in the fat content of the liver, which demonstrates that the procedure starts to have a beneficial effect very quickly.
Here are 2 testimonials as described by individual patients:
- “My name is Marg. Just 8 months ago I walked into the building for my appointment with Dr. Fung thinking this is a waste of my time. I had tried everything. My eye sight was getting really bad, I had to have surgery. I have been over weight my whole life it seems. I could not even bend over to tie my shoes. I could hardly breathe as I walked through the door, but I continued on hoping to find something to at least help with my diabetes that I have had for 25 years. I recall Dr. Fung introducing himself and telling me I was there because I needed help. I thought to myself here we go again, however, the doctor carefully explained I had options. I could have an operation or I could Fast which could help me get off Insulin. I was then introduced to Megan who helped and guided me on how to get started Fasting. I was told to try and Fast as long as I can. Megan took my measurements and could not even reach around me. I was told to come back in a week. I went home feeling excited and anxious, could I actually do this? I told my family and they were so encouraging. I thought could this be what I have been looking for my whole life? Prior to seeing Dr. Fung I was taking 60-20-60 units of Insulin and 2000 mg of Metformin a day. Within 11 days of my first appointment I was decreasing my Insulin as my readings were already dropping. By the 12th day I completely stopped taking the Insulin. It was not easy I did a complete fast for approximately 4 weeks. However just not having to take Insulin was so encouraging!! I then started the next phase of eating 2 times one day and Fasting until lunchtime the next day. Pills were next I starting cutting down by September 6th, I took my last Metformin. I have already lost 66lbs and several inches from my waist. I have dropped from a 5X to a 3X. I can honestly say I have not felt this good in years. I can pick up the newspaper and actually read it. I can also bend down and tie my own shoes” (7).
- “Kirk: I have been overweight since 3rd grade. Having tried numerous diets and methods of losing weight, I became desperate for a solution and received approval for gastric bypass surgery. During a regular visit to Dr. Fung I mentioned this and he asked if I would be interested in taking part in a new dietary management program he was starting. I feel very blessed that this happened because I was totally put off the gastric bypass surgery after attending an information session at Toronto Western. I began the Intensive Dietary Management program in June of 2013 and with the help & encouragement of Dr.Fung, Megan and my family (especially my daughter Catherine whom we call the food police) I have achieved fantastic results.Before the program I was taking 9 pills a day, 3 types of which were to help control my diabetes and one for high blood pressure. Today I take only 2 pills a day, one of which is for diabetes control. My A1C level is now better controlled, although my insulin resistance is still an issue. I have more energy, increased mobility and look forward to continuing in the program. The monthly group sessions are enjoyable and a good source of information……Thank you, Kirk” (8).
- In the past eighteen months I have seen my weight reduced from 360 lb. to 244 lbs. Yes that’s a 116 lbs. or the equivalent of a small adult. My waist size decreased substantially from a starting point of 63 inches and now is 48 inches, a reduction of 15 inches! Most amazing of all is the reduction in prescription drugs.
This is not rocket science but quite simply the application of common sense which obviously works very well for many people. T2D is a very serious disease in its own right but also increases the risks of developing various other diseases including heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Individuals who suffer from it have a reduced life expectancy and deterioration in the quality of their lives. The costs of treatment are at least £10Bn per year in the UK and the incidence is expected to continue increasing.
The official approach to this particular disease is incompetent and irresponsible. The current strategy is expensive, ineffective and causes unnecessary suffering to many people and their families. It is unbelievable that there has been a total failure to tackle the problem, when there is so much evidence to demonstrate that answers are readily available.
From a much broader perspective, this particular example highlights the fundamental fault in the current policy on healthcare not only here in the UK but in many other countries. Essentially the emphasis is on fire-fighting, which means that invariably considerable damage has been done before any action is taken. It follows that if real progress is to be achieved than there has to be a very significant shift in attitude and resources towards prevention. Looking back, it is evident that the most significant advances have been made in this way. Examples include:
- Smoking and lung cancer
- Clean water and a range of infectious diseases
- Ensuring adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals
The only logical way forward to achieve this objective is to cut back drastically on the resources directed to curative medicine. There will undoubtedly be massive opposition to any attempt to do so. The extremely powerful vested interests will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo. Nevertheless the fact remains that existing policies are not working. If the example of T2D described here is symptomatic of other diseases/treatments then it follows that in spite of all the efforts and expenditure, standards of public health are not being improved. Ultimately the issue will have to be addressed. Why not tackle it sooner rather than later?
- J M Gamble et al (2010) Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 12 (1) pp 47-53
- C J Currie et al (2010) Lancet 375 (9713) pp481-489