Diabetes and nutrition
“Get off the Medical System and onto the Self Care System”
I have experienced in recent months that almost every week brings
a new headline, often more, about the epidemic of type 2 diabetes
and obesity. On the one hand, this is threatening to overwhelm
our national health service but on the other hand it is precisely the
way the NHS approaches diabetes and its treatment that is causing
I feel strongly I am failed by my GP and failed by consultants and
staff at our regional hospital. This failure is not down to them
being bad people; they can only offer the service that is driven by
the present health paradigm and for which they are trained.
None are really taught about the power of nutrition.
In twenty years since my diabetes diagnosis, I have never had one
conversation about the creation of better health,
only that diabetes is incurable and it leads to horrendous
complications and potential death. The paradigm is filled with
fear- and no hope. It is about counting glucose and managing symptoms.
We and conventional health services – need to radically change our beliefs and approaches concerning diabetes type 2. Some doctors are already making changes, but we need a new, national enlightenment and policy to more quickly drive the changes
The National Diet
Fundamentally, the NHS largely ignores the root cause of the diabetes problem and takes completely the wrong approach to tackling it – both failing patients, their physical health, their mental emotional health, and their lives and costing the NHS a fortune in the process with medications, routine visits that provide no help or hope, and the dire consequences and complications of diabetes if it is not well “managed.”
As patients, we get unhelpful robotic instructions to eat less and exercise more, but the diet offered by NHS dieticians and other medical professionals is based on starchy carbohydrate – and their exercise advice takes no account of the fact that to burn 1lb of fat you'd need to run about 38 miles nor the fact that when diabetes side-effects such as atherosclerosis and claudication impede one’s ability to walk, quality exercise becomes difficult. Their advice is carelessly tossed out with little fact, foundation, or practical reality behind it. Meantime, if that doesn’t work, their solution is to offer more medication and more insulin. But why give more insulin when insulin is the problem?
A New Way
Instead, doctors should be spending more time (yes, I know they’re short on time but then the system needs changing – why spend so much money on a system that is so broken and in which doctors have insufficient time to thoroughly discuss patient issues) listening to patient experience about their lifestyle, their life experience and paying attention to the growing body of evidence that cutting down on carbohydrate intake is key.
About two years ago, with the aid of www.dietdoctor.com I radically changed my eating – I studied, then followed, as closely as possible, a low carbohydrate high natural fat diet. The results were amazing and on my next annual check up at both my GP practice and the regional hospital, my counts across every marker taken, were nothing short of miraculous. Staff took the news with the usual tick-list mentality.I asked some if they would like to know how I had done it – they were mostly disinterested. But when I decided to tell one of my consultants, I was told I had been stupid to disobey NHS guidelines! How many patients is that one consultant adversely affecting by his outdated, misinformed advice? (It offered no comfort to me that he was hugely obese, was wiping constant sweat from his brow, and had in front of him two opened cans of non-diet coke. Talk about a role model.)
But, more hopefully, I read of many doctors now who are witnessing revolutionary results in patients with type 2 diabetes, people who have chosen to reduce or delete dietary carbohydrate intake, processed foods, and sugar from their eating. Is it not now unacceptable for doctors and diabetes nurses not to suggest using a ‘low-carb’ diet to patients with type 2 diabetes?
My GP still believes what he was told in medical school 15 years ago when he was taught that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, heading towards mega complications such as blindness, leg amputation, and death. His answer to obesity is to "eat less, walk more" without first bothering to ask what I do eat and how much exercise I currently get. This is the story I am still spun by NHS staff. It has to stop.
For this story they pedal is not based in truth – diabetes has been shown time after time to be reversible; and how? Turn off the sugar sources – anything like carbs that supplies the body with its sugar fix, and the disease will begin to reverse.
Type 2 diabetes is a problem of balance, of homeostasis. Our body uses its various hormones, including insulin, to maintain blood glucose homeostasis of 4–6 mmol/L, which is about 5g in an average adult. But when we constantly consume food that challenges our blood glucose level, the fast food, the take aways, the processed foods, the carbs, the sugars, the alcohol, then the body takes the hit, and shifts the excess glucose to fat storage, often round the stomach. Eventually, to prevent ever-increasing obesity, to attempt to rebalance the body, our body starts to rebel – and blood glucose rises. The answers are simple. We have to change what we put in our mouths.
Doctors treat our symptoms, they provide medications to bring down our glucose levels. But I would rather they talk to us of causes, that they explain to us how type 2 diabetes is a situation of high blood glucose, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia, caused by a lifestyle of sugar, carbohydrates, fast foods, too many take-aways, and so on and advise us that the approach to take is to treat the causes not the symptoms, that means recommending that patients avoid sugar, processed foods, unhealthy snacks, crisps, vegetables grown below ground, and sweet fruits, and eat less carbohydrate – often found in cakes, pies, pastries, pizzas etc.
Doctors and nurses need better training in nutrition and patients taught that in addition to the foods to avoid, they should eat real, natural, fresh food which includes lots of above-ground vegetables, leafy greens, a portion of protein (meat, fish, eggs, nuts etc) at each meal and as much healthy fat such as olive oil to satisfy their appetite. They could switch to cooking with coconut oil.
So make the switch and you could see a significant drop in HbA1c (80 mmol/mol down to 50 mmol/mol, sometimes even more). The term HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin. It develops when haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body, joins with glucose in the blood, becoming 'glycated' - the bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein or lipid.
By measuring glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), medical staff get an overall picture of what our average blood sugar levels have been over a period of about three months. The higher the HbA1c level, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
Normal and diabetic blood sugar ranges
For the majority of healthy individuals, normal blood sugar levels are as follows:
Between 4.0 to 6.0 mmol/L (72 to 108 mg/dL) when fasting
Up to 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) 2 hours after eating
For people with diabetes, blood sugar level targets are as follows:
Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/L for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
After meals: under 9 mmol/L for people with type 1 diabetes and under 8.5mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes
With such an approach to eating, patients’ doctors also notice triglycerides plummet and high-density lipoprotein (‘good’) cholesterol increases. Weight loss become effortless, and the tummy tyre dissolves.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – which provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care, NICE, guidelines on type 2 diabetes advise high-fibre low glycaemic index (GI) sources of carbohydrate, which in practical terms means things such as peppers and leafy greens. It does not mean potatoes or vegetables grown underground and bread, and all things likes cakes, pastries, biscuits which are high GI.
Protestations and ill-informed nay-sayers
One argument I find is that some say, ‘Carbohydrates are essential.’ A nurse tells me, “You must get your carbohydrate- a third of your plate should be carbohydrate.” This is untrue, there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. There is a difference between pasta, rice and potatoes, and broccoli and strawberries.
With a low carb high fat diet the other objection is that, ‘Ketosis is dangerous.’ Ketosis means that our bodies are using our own fat reserves for energy. Ketones are molecules generated during fat metabolism, whether from the fat in the food you ate or fat you were carrying around your tummy middle. Nutritional ketosis is not dangerous (it actually makes you feel pretty good!)
I have diagnoses of peripheral neuropathy, claudication, atherosclerosis, retinopathy; I am given medication to mask the pain of the neuropathy but for all else, am told there is nothing else can be done or more accurately said, “You are old and have to learn to live with your diabetes.” There endeth the conventional treatment. No help. No hope.
But, although diabetes or at least its symptoms is not completely handled by mainstream medicine, and the causes are not dealt with, nutritional medicine does at least handle the symptoms and causes. It would be good to have a medical system where doctors are at least trained to talk about these things.
After researching several studies, most importantly UK Dr. Paul Thornalley's, Professor in Systems Biology, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, theory of diabetes as an acute thiamine deficiency, I started taking 300 mg three times a day using benfotiamine, a fat soluble or lipid form of thiamine. Within a week the intense neuropathic foot pain was gone, and within three weeks all peripheral neuropathy sensations had ceased. In an experiment, symptoms would return when I stopped taking them, but at least I wasn't subjecting myself to the side effects of expensive drugs.
If you go to PubMed and enter the keywords 'thiamine deficiency' and 'diabetes' you will find numerous references that describe how many symptoms of diabetes are caused by a thiamine deficiency. Yet no doctor in 20 years has ever discussed this with me, I have had to wait until symptoms become so severe, doctors can only prescribe expensive, side-effect-laden chemical drugs.
There is another way. There are things you can do to help reverse your diabetes.
Nutritional Supplements – as always do your own research:
* Acetyl-L-Carnitine - 1,000 mg between meals daily
* Alpha Lipoic Acid
* Benfotiamine thiamine - 300mg 3X daily
* Buffered vitamin C - 2,000 to 3,000 mg with meals
* Dietary Fiber
* Magnesium citrate - 300 mg 3X daily with meals
* Pyridoxal-5-phosphate - 100 mg daily
* Tocotrienol Vitamin E … is composed of eight different compounds, half called tocopherols, the most common form of vitamin E, the other half known as tocotrienols. Tocotrienols have been found to promote new artery formation after a stroke, lower homocysteine levels, improve insulin sensitivity, protect vital brain circuitry, and even prevent bone loss.
* Vanadium with Chromium
Exercise and weight reduction
As always, do all you can to keep your weight down and keep the
body moving – dancing, football, gardening, housework, qi-gong,
rugby, swimming, tai-chi, tennis, walking, etc etc
Consider the metaphysical causes of diabetes – where relevant, take
steps to address these, often in the form of changing beliefs and
adopting lifestyle changes
Further reading and resources
Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting … Dr Jason Fung
The Fast Diet ... Dr Michael Mosley
The Obesity Code … Dr Jason Fung
The Pioppi Diet ... Dr Aseem Malhotra
The Real Meal Revolution …Professor Tim Noakes
BBC Documentary - The Truth About Carbs (Video)
How to reduce blood sugar levels (short video)
Eat well ...
Give up the sugar
and eat low carbs
Reversing diabetes Type 2
Dr Michael Mosley
on Reversing Diabetes
with a Plant Based Diet