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Patricia Skinner Wellwrittenwords Blog Are you following the FDA diet guidelines for your diabetes—endorsed by the ADA—and yet you’re still wrestling with your weight? Feeling lousy and exhausted? And to top it all, your doctor keeps at you to get those sugar levels down? You’re not alone. Many diabetics are struggling to follow the guidelines set by doctors, yet the harder they try, the worse things are. In 1990 Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. joined a leading diabetic clinic in Santa Barbara, California. She found that the diabetics at this clinic were struggling to keep their blood sugar down and complained that they were often accused of cheating when they were not. She suspected that the FDA diet wasn’t having the desired results with her patients. “After listening to their stories I thought, My God, we are making diabetics worse!” she later wrote in her book, The Schwarzbein Principle. Making Changes Dr. Schwarzbein asked her patients to modify the clinic’s dietary recommendations slightly (still in keeping with FDA guidelines), keeping meticulous records of her findings. She found that the more her patients cut their carbohydrate intake, and the more oils and fats they ate, the lower their blood sugar fell and the better they felt. Many of her patients reported feeling better than they had in years, and they lost weight in the bargain! This research contributes to much new thinking in the dietary world regarding the treatment of diabetes and obesity. Specialists are just beginning to discover that the FDA diet will actually prevent you from controlling your diabetes. You will have to relearn and rethink what you know about diet if you want your diabetes under control and help with all the other health problems you have including heart disease and obesity. With recent strides in the understanding of the mechanisms of insulin in the body, the outlook has never been brighter. If you find this strange and new (or very old), remember that in the words of Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., "It takes approximately 40 years for innovative thought to be incorporated into mainstream thought." I’d say this is one area where you’d want to be ahead of the pack.
Amid all the controversy, preliminary research findings at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have confirmed that the Atkins diet can lead to significant and sustained weight loss— in addition to lowering triglyceride levels, both of which will be beneficial to diabetics. The Trouble With Carbohydrates Carbohydrates put a tremendous amount of strain on the body’s ability to keep blood sugars low. In an attempt to right the situation, any carbohydrates not used for energy will be converted to fat and stored. To make matters worse, if quality fats and protein are lacking, the body will be forced to break down body tissue—particularly muscle tissue and bone marrow— to meet needs for vital bodily functions. As the body makes vital hormones from the fats and proteins you eat, a low fat/low protein diet could possibly also lead to hormone imbalances and osteoporosis. Ironically, no matter how much nutrition you are lacking, you’ll still be gaining weight. Another way in which FDA guidelines—for diabetics and others—can affect your health is that when you choose low-fat alternatives (any commercial cooking oil, margarine and butter alternatives), you are choosing oils that have been very highly processed, and which have a high level of trans fatty acids that cause abnormal cells called free radicals to be formed in the body. Free radicals cause cellular aging in the body and are responsible for most of the visible signs of human aging as well as contributing to the onset of many diseases including diabetes. For more information on this aspect of diet, read what Mary G. Enig Ph.D. has to say about it. Dr Enig is Research Associate in the Lipids Research Group, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland and the nation's leading authority on the amounts of transfats in foods. What to Avoid So bread, rice and potatoes should be cut to an absolute minimum—sugar should be cut out of your diet completely. Try to make sure that any flour products you eat, including bread, are made from whole-wheat flour, as this does not raise blood sugar so much. But make sure you stay away from artificial sweeteners—particularly aspartame (more about that at a later date). The only sweetener I would recommend is the natural herb Stevia. Raise your intake of good quality protein. You’ll be fascinated to know that there is absolutely no reliable research to show that red meat raises cholesterol levels—read what Stephen Byrnes Ph.D. says on the subject, and start eating lots of good quality oils. You’ll start to lose weight, your blood sugar levels will stabilize, you’ll be able to reduce—or even stop—medication, and perhaps most amazing of all, if you keep carbohydrate levels low enough to lose weight, your body will be forced to burn fat for energy instead of muscle and bone. A bonus is that your carbohydrate craving will be a thing of the past. Sounds really good doesn’t it? But these are not the only benefits. There’s more! Diana Schwarzbein describes in her book how she discovered during the course of her research that following the low carbohydrate/high protein-vegetable-oil regime also lowered her patients’ cholesterol profiles and blood pressure. She went on to describe how making these
simple changes offered many benefits as far as protecting oneself against heart disease— another problem often faced by long-term diabetics. The Secret to Losing Weight Charles Vega M.D. asserts that the Westman Study, which was another body of research into the pros/cons of a high protein diet, proves that even when they weren’t very good at sticking to their diets, patients put on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet lost significant amounts of weight with none of the side effects associated with other methods of losing weight—including the high carb diet! There is a lot more information relevant to this subject—I’ve just included some very basic information to start you off in the right direction—the road to better understanding of your body and better health. References The Schwarzbein Principle, Shwarzbein, M.D., Diana, and Nancy Deville, 1999. Health Communications Inc., Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA. http://www.lowcarb.ca/articlesb/article312.html Robert C. Atkins. Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution. (Bantam Books; NY), 1998. Westman Study of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet, Charles Vega, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Associate Residency Director, Department of Family Medicine, 2002. University of California - Irvine, Orange, California Duke University Study: Effect of 6-month adherence to a very low carbohydrate diet program: Eric C. Westman MD, MHS, William S. Yancy MD, Joel S. Edman DSc, Keith F. Tomlin and Christine E. Perkins MSW The American Journal of Medicine vol 112 Issue 1, 2002.