The 100 Year Old Cure

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, once I got my hands on a glucose monitor it took me three days to determine which foods increased my blood glucose and which didn’t. Meat, eggs, fish and fat had negligible impact. Starches, including beans and ‘healthy whole grains’ put me through the roof. One of my worst readings ever came after an unsweetened, modest meal of brown rice and kidney beans; I found the recipe in a diabetic cookbook borrowed from the library. Oh, the irony.

Feeling like a scofflaw I immediately went against medical advice and began eating low carb. As a former devout vegan this was particularly difficult. I never had much of an ethical problem with meat, I just found it gross to eat something dead. But I’ve eaten a lot of dead things over the past three years and I sincerely believe it is preserving my life.

I wasn’t fat. I’ve never been fat. When I was a kid I was so thin my parents repeatedly threatened to hospitalize me unless I ate. I was BMI 19 when I fell pregnant with my three year old, and had gained all of 5 pounds when diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was BMI 19 when officially diagnosed with type 2, after his birth. I’m currently BMI 17.5… and still diabetic. However I have managed to avoid any medication or insulin by eating a very low carb diet.

But I was puzzled. My primary care physician told me to eat potatoes and brown rice when I was diagnosed. These foods spike my numbers astronomically! Why didn’t he simply advise me to eat low carb, or to avoid carbohydrates altogether (I have gone long periods eating zero carb, or close to it)?

It’s been a real alice in wonderland situation. Armed with nothing but a glucose monitor I figured out how to control my diabetes; I have a perfect A1C and a ‘superhuman’ hdl – triglycerides ratio by eating a virtually zero carb diet. But the entire medical establishment is unable to assist the countless millions of people out there with diabetes without pharmaceutical intervention? What was going on?

I’m still unsure what IS going on: are diabetics unable to stick to a strict low carb regimen? Does big pharma have a vested interest in diabetics being dependent on medication and insulin?

Imagine my shock when I stumbled across a book written more than ONE HUNDRED years ago: The Starvation Treatment of Diabetes:

The book is a series of diabetic case studies who were treated with nothing but a very low carb, high fat diet (remember this was before insulin was even an option). All the patients, except one already in a diabetic coma, leave treatment with normal blood glucose levels by doing nothing other than eating a carnivore centered, low carb/ high fat diet. In case I have to spell it out for you: it has been known for more than a hundred years that a meat based, low carbohydrate/ high fat diet controls diabetes, but for whatever reason this has been dismissed by the medical community.

Not long ago I was in costco and stopped in my tracks. I realized I was surrounded by foods that would kill me: cereals, dried fruit, beans, candy, breads, cookies, desserts, sacks of potatoes and huge bags of rice. But it was the animals keeping me alive and sparing me medication and insulin dependence. Those animals were sparing my vision, my limbs, my organs, and quite possibly preserved my pregnancy with my youngest son: he’s babbling away happily today because I ate those ‘dead things.’

Instead of guilt I just felt incredible gratitude. Gratitude to have access to meat, gratitude all those animals were preserving my life, my health, and granting me years to care for my children.

So once again I will implore any diabetics out there, both type 1 and type 2, to consider a very low carb diet. 100 years of knowledge can’t be wrong. Even if you just try it briefly, what do you have to lose beyond extensive medical hassles?



Food Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In browsing older posts I realized there might be some confusion to new readers as to what exactly I eat. Thus I would like to clarify (don’t worry, I know the world doesn’t hinge on what I eat, but I don’t want to confuse anyone).

Years ago I was a strict vegan. I truly believed this was the healthiest way for a human to eat. I made this decision based on books like Eat to Live, The China Study, and the various vegan websites out there like vegsource (I have no idea if they’re still around). Eating a whole food vegan diet, claimed these books, led to perfect health and slim waistlines.

I have always been thin but I was trying to improve my health- after my 4th child was born I began experiencing recurring and debilitating fevers. Based on testimonials of vegan converts I switched to a completely vegan diet.

It took a while but my health did improve. I didn’t eat only health foods- I loved vegan cookies and desserts, but I did eat mostly health foods, and I completely eliminated sugar from my diet 4 years ago.

Then I got pregnant with my youngest child and despite being low weight, gaining virtually no weight, and eating a “healthy vegan diet” I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was 190 mg/dL on the glucose tolerance test. I obtained a glucose meter and began testing my postprandial (post meal) blood sugar. I was horrified to find all those “healthy” whole grains and beans were spiking my blood sugar astronomically.

Then I remembered… in the back of my head… a documentary I watched ages ago. I thought it was funny back then but, as a strict vegan, believed none of it. That documentary was Tom Naughton’s Fat Head, where he eats both a moderately low carb/ high fat diet, and later a nearly zero carb/ high fat diet, and not only does he lose weight but his blood work improves significantly.

Against medical advice I immediately began eating low carb. I was concerned about going too low, given I was pregnant [note: I would no longer have this concern today], so I hovered around 50 net carbs a day. A typical day for me eating was as follows: I would skip breakfast then eat a huge lunch. I ate a tremendous amount of lamb and chicken thighs, and of course did not remove any of the fat. I would have a small amount of dried fruit for dessert (dried fruit and some veggies were my only source of carbs). For dinner I would have the same.

My blood sugar immediately normalized below 100 mg/dL no matter how much I ate, and my son was born 6 pounds just shy of 36 weeks. He did not require any NICU.

Well, when they gave me the glucose tolerance test a few months after his birth my numbers were even worse. I was 300 mg/dL! I was now officially diabetic, although it remains unclear if I am type 2 or LADA- adult onset type 1- since I am so thin it may likely be LADA. My well meaning but clueless internist advised me to “eat brown rice and potatoes.” I kept my mouth shut but knew some of my worst postprandial numbers resulted from precisely those foods.

I have been a low carber ever since, even going down to zero carbs for long periods, eating nothing but meat and fat. That’s right, I am still alive despite eating no fiber and eschewing all plant foods. My blood work is perfect. A1C is normal. I’m thinner than ever- not necessarily a good thing, but for those of you who need to lose weight, if it works at my low weight it would certainly work for you. When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was 135 lbs (at 5’9″). After a few months eating very low carb I went down to 120- slightly underweight for my height- and have maintained and even dipped below without trying.

I truly believe eating low carb has saved my life, and quite possibly saved my son’s life. So would I recommend low carbing to any dieters out there? HELL YES! The emphasis on fruits, whole grains and veggies in nutritional circles is ridiculously overblown. I’m not saying they’re bad for non-diabetics, but they are indeed terribly dangerous for diabetics and are not the golden key to weight loss the FDA would have you believe.

I’ve been able to maintain a normal A1C without meds, insulin, or exercise (I like to walk but don’t consider it “exercise.”) My blood sugar rarely cracks 100 mg/dL. So I would plead- yes PLEAD- with any diabetics out there to consider a low carb/ zero carb diet. There are countless resources online and just as many books. Atkins is a great place to start. I eat only foods from the induction phase, plus nuts.