It’s been 30 years (1986) since I was diagnosed a Type 2 Diabetic, so I’ll admit I don’t have a recollection of what happened next. My guess, though, is that what I was told then is not much different from what a newly diagnosed Type 2 or even a Pre-Diabetic is told today. Only the names and classes of drugs have changed.
First, I’m pretty sure I was scared. After all, I was told I had a disease – a life-long disease – and that it would require ongoing treatment. I was also told, I’m sure, that I should lose a lot of weight and that I would have to begin taking medications on a daily basis. That was daunting enough, so I’m pretty sure my doctor didn’t tell me that my Type 2 Diabetes would be progressive, and that one day I would probably die from its complications. But, that’s the way it was then, and sadly still is today, if you follow the medical establishment’s treatment protocol.
Of course, losing weight was my responsibility. Prescribing medications was my doctor’s. He, who like all doctors then and now was lacking in nutrition training, probably offered me some “helpful” advice: “eat less and exercise more.” He probably suggested I follow the one-size-fits-all Nutritional Guidelines for Americans’ “eating pattern” to eat a restricted calorie, balanced diet and do some “regular exercise” for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. But my doctor surely knew from long experience with T2 patients that I would fail to lose the weight on that “diet and exercise” program. Not to worry; he had a pad and could write another “script” as my condition worsened. And if this isn’t familiar to you as a new patient, it will be if you stick with the “established treatment guidelines.”
Unfortunately, my doctor was under the mistaken impression that I was obese because I ate too much and didn’t exercise enough. My doctor thought that my obesity led to and was a major contributing factor, perhaps even the sole cause, for my becoming a Type 2 Diabetic. The truth is it was the other way round. My Type 2 diabetes, or the underlying condition that precipitated the diagnosis, Insulin Resistance, caused my obesity. For a layman’s explanation of the mechanism of this metabolic pathway, read “Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #308: Introduction to What Causes Type 2 Diabetes.” Or you can read Gary Taubes’s “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It,” or Volek and Phinney’s “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Eating.”
So, my doctor thought that if I reversed my weight gain, he could slow the rate at which my progressive disease would worsen. And it would be good as well for my general health, blood pressure, etc. My doctor also thought that by prescribing medications to help me control my blood sugar, he would be helping me to control my diabetes and thus likewise “delay the complications.” My doctor, regrettably, was misguided here too, as he was taught to treat diseases by treating the symptoms; my doctor was not addressing the cause.
The precipitating cause, Insulin Resistance, was “expressed” by certain of my genes from my history of eating a diet that was too heavily composed of carbohydrates, especially highly processed carbohydrates. Since the 1960s, all Americans have been told by the American Heart Association to reduce their intake of fat, in particular saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. In 1977 a Special Congressional Committee began work and in 1980 the USDA and HHS jointly produced the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In 1990, Congress followed with the Nutrition Facts panel on processed foods. Then and now, the Nutrition Facts panel calls for a diet of 60% carbohydrates, 10% protein and 30% total fat. Please note these ratios are excellent for fattening livestock.
It was a huge (no pun intended), nation-wide uncontrolled experiment. Now, after 35 years, we see that it was a catastrophic failure, leading to an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes even in very young children. If you are now a member of this failed low-fat (VERY HIGH CARB) cohort, consider addressing the cause: highly processed carbohydrates. To avoid “challenging” your “expressed” genes and to reduce your Insulin Resistance, consider the macronutrient ratios in your diet. To lower both your weight and your blood sugar, you need to substantially reduce the carbs, increase the protein slightly, and raise the dietary fat. Get off the livestock fattening program. I suggest you start with 20% carbs, 20% protein and 60%* fat. Just start with breakfast and see how you feel; perhaps 2 or 3 eggs and 2 strips of bacon. No toast! No juice! How do you feel? Are you hungry before lunch? Hint: You won't be.*These are percentages in calories, not grams. And since fat has 9 calories per gram, versus 4 for protein and carbs, that’s less than half as much fat by gram. And fat, as you know, tastes good, and it’s good for you. It also makes you feel full, lose weight, and be full of energy.