A Facebook friend recently noticed my blog on nutrition and that I posted it to Facebook (when I remember to). He then said, “Your diet is very restrictive.” I objected! Of course, I was being defensive. My diet is “very restrictive” in the general sense, especially to someone who eats a diet “without restriction” and who appears to be able to “get away with it.” And that appears to apply to a fairly large segment of the population. It includes everyone who is of “normal” weight and/or who is not a diagnosed pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic. And that’s probably still almost half of us.
Lest these ones who appear to be healthy take comfort from this, I am reminded of a quote from Dr. Dwight C. Lundell, MD, author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie, on pg. 36 of Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore with Eric C. Westman, MD: “Our diet is not working because 70% of us are overweight and obese, we have 29 million diabetics and 75 million pre-diabetics, and the rest of us don’t even know we’re pre-diabetic”(my emphasis). Lundell continues, “People are realizing that what we are doing is not working, and they are looking for other ways around this. That’s where do-it-yourself healthcare and self-monitoring will become the norm.”
And do-it-yourself healthcare begins with diet. See The Nutrition Debate #173, “Anyone can be a doctor....” So, if you fall into the 70%, even if just by virtue of being a little overweight, it is your diet that you should address to “fix” your health. And if you are among the 30% “who don’t even know (you’re) pre-diabetic,” then it is your diet that you need to address to “fix” that. If I haven’t made myself clear yet: Everyone needs to look at their diet and change it. But how? That’s the question. The most reliable way, as Dr. Lundell says, is “self-monitoring.
The best markers are blood glucose (fasting and, importantly, hg A1c), HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL particle size and type, and chronic, systemic inflammation (hs C-reactive protein or CRP). Forget Total Cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Of course, you’ll need to see a doctor to get these lab tests (except blood glucose), but, if you are in the 70%, or he/she suspects that you are, most of these tests will be ordered anyway. Ask for a copy of your lab test, and learn your markers.
So, how do you fix these markers? By changing your diet. I am not talking about eating less and exercising more. A growing consensus is emerging that the dietary advice we are getting from our government and our healthcare providers is what is causing the 70% already afflicted and the 30% who are not, yet, as well, i.e., “the rest of us (who) don’t even know we’re pre-diabetic.” Of course, I knew I was a type 2 diabetic when I changed my diet 12 years ago (in 2002). I had been since 1986. And I changed my diet, at my cardiologist doctor’s suggestion, to Atkins Induction (20g of carbohydrate a day) and lost 60 pounds in 9 months (without hunger). I later switched to Bernstein's Diet for diabetics and lost 110 pounds more.
But the big change from eating Very Low Carb (VLC) was in my diabetes health and my lipid chemistry (cholesterol tests). Immediately, from day 1 on VLC, I started getting hypos (low blood sugar symptoms: sweating, light-headedness), so the doctor eliminated first one of the oral diabetes meds I took. A day or so later, he cut the other two in half, and a few days later, in half again. Eventually I eliminated a 2nd med, and today I take just a minimum dose of Metformin. Of course, my hg A1c’s dropped dramatically to a level in the mid 5s. Note: a doctor examining me today would say I was “non-diabetic.”
Even more amazing were the changes in my lipid chemistry. Over the course of time my HDL more than doubled (from an average of 39 to an average of 81). My latest HDL-C was 90. And my triglycerides declined by almost 2/3rds from 137 average to 49 average. My latest TG was 34. Total Cholesterol remained about the same and my LDL inched up slightly but now they are Pattern A (of the large, fluffy buoyant type). The latest test results were TC = 207 and LDL-C = 110.
I’m now working on getting my chronic, systemic inflammation marker (hs CRP) down to below 1.0, the ideal target. My latest test result was 1.2, but it has been as low as 0.3 and even 0.1, so I have a ways to go. So, how do I do it? By eating a restrictive diet, obviously. I’m not perfect. I cheat all the time. But I have a paradigm that I strive to follow, and I do follow it, for the most part. But you’ve gotta have a life (hopefully, a long and healthy one). So, what are my guidelines/goals? My target macronutrient ratios: 75% fat; 20% protein; 5% carbohydrate. Two or 3 small meals a day, spaced at least 5 hours apart; no eating less than 3 hours before bedtime; no snacks, except sometimes a small snack an hour or so before dinner.
Breakfast: 3 fried eggs, 1 strip of bacon, and a large cup of coffee with stevia extract and half and half; Lunch (when I eat it): 1 can of sardines in olive oil. Sometimes I add a tsp. of coconut oil. Dinner: a small portion of protein and a large vegetable serving (with butter added or roasted in olive oil). I also take a bunch of supplements, but that’s another story.
My cheats: a square (or two) of 85% cocoa dark chocolate a couple times a week; a glass (or two) of red wine a couple times a week; one or two Perfect Rob Roys - up with a twist - and a garlic crouton (or two) with a Caesar Salad in a restaurant. (I always “forget” to say “hold the croutons.”) I drink artificially sweetened ice tea or diet tonic with lunch/dinner or with a pre-dinner snack. Water would be better, but as I said, I’m not perfect. Anyway, this is what I strive to eat, most of the time.