What if we’re wrong about type 2 diabetes? – Diet Doctor Insights

Type 2 diabetes. Traditionally it's categorized
as a chronic and progressive disease that's managed over a patient's lifetime through various treatments including
prescription drugs like insulin. Once you contract type 2 diabetes,
it's a disease that stays with you for life. But what if we don't think traditionally? What if we wanted to eliminate
this disease from a patient's life? What if we wanted
to reverse the disease? According to the US national Center
for Health Statistics a chronic disease generally
cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication
nor do they just disappear on their own. To treat these chronic diseases
doctors refer to federal guidelines created by association
like the USDA and NHS, which outline protocols
for outpatient care and prescriptions.

But how effective are these guidelines? All these diseases in modern society
that we treat today we refer to them as chronic diseases ultimately caused
by these federal guidelines and unfortunately these guidelines
are causing the diseases that we were trying to prevent
in the first place. While some physicians like Dr. Gerber
would like to think outside the box by viewing diabetes
as a simply reversible disorder, major US media outlets reinforce
the views of federal guidelines.

Diabetes is a growing epidemic. And the condition is
incredibly widespread. Diabetes can certainly shorten your life if we don't manage it well. Well, a big problem with how we see
that type 2 diabetes both from a media perspective and
from a physician and healthcare perspective is that a number of people still portray type
2 diabetes as a chronic progressive disease. A New York Times article
that came out saying exactly that talking about how we cannot treat this
disease and we have to manage it and unfortunately the medications
are becoming more expensive to manage type 2 diabetes. Federal guidelines aren't working and in the meantime diabetes
is progressing in patients. Do we simply ignore the guidelines then? Diabetes is a chronic disease and it's going to continue to get worse
if you follow the guidelines, the guidelines sadly put out
by associations that are supposed to be advocates
for people with diabetes. So if we want to solve the problem,
we have to take away the cause.

But before we can determine
the best treatment for diabetes we need to zero in on its core cause. How do we treat the disease
instead of just the symptoms? If you're a type 2 diabetic,
it's a dietary disease, it's a disease of essentially
too much sugar. So if you understand it like that, then the answer is to get
that sugar out, get it down. Imagine that your body
is like a sugar bowl. Over the years consuming
foods high in sugar, like sweets, soft drinks,
carbohydrates and more, contribute to that
bowl of sugar filling up. When you consume too much sugar
in your diet for a consistent period, that bowl becomes completely full. There isn't any more room
for additional sugar, so when you continue eating it,
it spills out into the bloodstream. So when diabetics remove at least
a lot of the carbohydrates from their diet, their blood sugar goes down
and then they are not diabetic any longer.

One of the most popular ways
to treat patients once their metaphorical
sugar bowls spill over is for doctors to prescribe insulin. Unfortunately the body begins
to develop a tolerance to the drug. The drugs don't actually do
anything for the disease. And this is also not controversial because the thing is that type 2 diabetes is
a disease of too much insulin resistance. So the treatments that we give
are all targeted at blood sugar. What Dr. Fung is saying is that we're currently too focused
on treating symptoms. If we look back
at our sugar bowl metaphor, we should be thinking
about how we can reduce the overall level of sugar
still in the bowl, so it doesn't keep spilling over.

pexels photo 6740510

But how do we do that if traditional medical treatments
like insulin aren't the complete answer? According to Dr. Elliott Joslin
one way could be a solution that has existed
for nearly 100 years… fasting. His study on this subject was published
in the Canadian Medical Journal where he was quoted as saying, "That temporary periods of under-nutrition
are helpful in the treatment of diabetes will probably be acknowledged by all after
these two years of experience with fasting." It seems patients are already
acknowledging the effects of fasting. They come back and they think, "I thought I'd be miserable
during this whole thing." And they come back say,
"I feel terrific. "My weight is down,
I am taking so much less insulin, "I'm off of a lot of drugs
and I have so much energy and my mind is more clear,
I've lost that bloated feeling." Of course fasting isn't
the solution for everyone.

Instead of a complete
abstinence from food some patients respond better
to adopting a low-carb lifestyle. The positive effects
of this new lifestyle change can even be felt by patients
early on in the process. Initially when patients
are beginning a lifestyle change and shifting to low carbohydrate
to help their diabetes, it is so fantastic that within the first
few days to a couple of weeks we can entirely remove a medication. And it goes beyond
de-prescribing medication. A low-carb lifestyle is a proven
long-term treatment for type 2 diabetes. There is quite a big evidence base
for low carbohydrate even in type 2 diabetes. So yes, it's evidence-based. Dr. Hallberg has been observing the results of low-carb diets for patients
with diabetes first-hand. For two years she led a study
at Indiana University Health that demonstrated a reversal
in diabetes progression. The study showed a 62% reduction
in patients insulin use and 100% reduction
in the use of sulfonylureas. What we were seeing in the patients
with type 2 diabetes was nothing short of remarkable.

I mean we were getting them
off of medications, we were seeing normal A1c's…
I just couldn't believe it. At the end of two years 53.5% of the participants who adopted
a low-carb diet as part of the study maintained diabetes reversal. Meanwhile for those patients
who undertook usual care, 0% maintained diabetes reversal, demonstrating that low-carb is
an incredibly effective long-term treatment for type 2 diabetes. This can't be good for people
in the long-term. You know, what's happening
long-term for patients? But again, in my clinic I have people
who have been doing this for years and, you know, the complication is
they have to get used to feeling better. People find that to be pretty easy. We don't see these
big complications coming up. People do incredibly well
eating this way. As our understanding of the disease
of diabetes continues to improve and we focus on treating the core causes
rather than the symptoms, our ability to improve patients lives
increases drastically.

People with type 2 diabetes
should have hope that this is absolutely
a reversible condition. If you're following the right nutritional
and lifestyle advice and you're getting appropriate support
and guidance as you go, yes, you absolutely
can reverse this disease..

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