Sunday, June 16, 2019

Type 2 Nutrition #490: Why, just…why?

I’ve been struggling with this question for a long time. Why what, you ask? Well, that’s the problem. It’s hard to figure out what the question is. And then there’s the answer. That’s even more of a conundrum.
As readers know, I’m not afraid to be honest, even brutally honest. I don’t mind if I offend someone’s sensibilities…if it’s in a good cause. And I believe passionately that the health and well-being of our nation, even the world, both physically and mentally, is a good cause. It’s worth telling the truth, even if at a cost.
I have put the question in various forms: Why don’t people want to change? Why is it so hard for people to change? Can a person change what one eats, or the way or when one eats, at any age? Why don’t people believe that changing what they eat will improve their health? Whom do you believe when it comes to what is a “healthy diet”? Why should a person give up their favorite “comfort” foods? What if it’s all been a big fat lie?
As I approach column #500, I’m frustrated. I’m no closer to the answer as to why others can’t/don’t/won’t change than I was when I started. I can only re-tell how I did it and hope that somehow connects with you.
In 2002, as I approached the end of my work life, I weighed 375 pounds and faced a short retirement; I looked around and didn’t see many obese old people, and those I did see didn’t look to me to be in good health. I had been a diagnosed Type 2 diabetic for 16 years, was maxed out on 2 oral meds and starting a 3rd. My prospects were that I would soon be injecting insulin. And sooner rather than later I would die of diabetic complications.
The common Microvascular ones: 1) end-stage kidney disease with dialysis (nephropathy), 2) being wheelchair bound because of amputation(s) (neuropathy) and 3) blindness (retinopathy). Today, the Macrovascular complications are even more common: heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease (“type 3” diabetes) and several cancers. I was scared. I didn’t want a “short retirement.” I was motivated to change.
My doctor thought the best way to treat my Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, was for me to lose weight. He had urged me to do that for years. All “his” efforts – meaning my attempts – had failed. When I lost weight, following his “prescription” to “eat less and move more,” on a “balanced diet” – I failed. Then, one day, when I walked into his office (at 375 pounds), he said, “Have I got a diet for you!” His timing was perfect.
A few months earlier my doctor had read, “What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie,” the cover story of The New York Times Sunday magazine. The author, Gary Taubes, who also wrote Good Calories – Bad Calories, proposed an “Alternate Hypothesis” to the “low-fat” (high-carb) “balanced” diet that mainstream medicine has pushed for fifty years. And note well, following it dutifully has made us fatter and sicker.
Taubes, thrice an award-winning science journalist, wrapped up GC-BC with 10 “certain conclusions [that] seem[ed] inescapable” to him. The first 3 follow; the others are in The Nutrition Debate #5, posted here.
1.       Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not the cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.
2.       The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis – the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3.       Sugars – sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically – are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.
My wife says, “Your diet is too extreme. You don’t have to cut out all carbs. You just have to cut down.” Okay, I say, if that works for you, DO IT. I have friends who’ve cut back on their carbs a little and a lot, and they’ve all lost weight. I found it easier to eat so few carbs that my body burned my body fat for energy. I’ve lost 180 pounds. The trick: Eat few enough to lower your blood insulin levels to signal the body to access your body fat. If you don’t access your body fat for fuel, you will be hungry, and you’ll just wind up back where you started.

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