Saturday, March 23, 2024

Type 2 Nutrition #999: "Have I got a diet for YOU!"

 It’s been almost four years since I wrote my 997th and “final” column at My little writing adventure began in 2010 in response to a small, weekly-newspaper publisher’s request that I write (for free) a weekly 750-word column on any subject I chose. He needed content, and he knew (from many Letters to the Editor I had written) that I could write well enough to not require much editing and still not be a discredit to his newspaper.

The subject I chose was nutrition for type 2 diabetics. I had a story to tell, and he agreed. It all began in 2002 when my internist greeted me from his nurses’ station as I walked into the waiting room for a scheduled appointment. My doctor, an internist/cardiologist, said to me, “Have I got a diet for YOU!”

That was August, more than 21 years ago. Sixteen years earlier, in 1986, I had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Over the years I had been prescribed oral anti-diabetic drugs until I was maxed out on one class and then another, and was starting a third. Soon, I would be injecting insulin or, in today’s drug world, a newer class of injectable. Because, that was (and still is) the Standard of Care for type 2s.

But my doctor wanted me to LOSE WEIGHT. He had me covered for diabetes (and hypertension) with drugs. However, a few weeks earlier, on July 7, 2002, he had read a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” by science writer Gary Taubes. The story attracted him because the cover photo was a ribeye steak with a pat of butter on top, and he was, besides my internist, a cardiologist. And, to a cardiologist, that picture was a prescription for a heart attack!

But my doctor tried the described diet himself, and in 6 weeks’ time, he’d lost 17 pounds. So, since he was starting a 2-week end-of-August vacation, he suggested I read up about it and start the diet the day after Labor Day, which I did. I had weighed in at 375 pounds that day, and I wanted to lose weight too.

The rest, as they say, is history. I lost 60 pounds in the next 9 months (39 weeks; 1½ pounds/week) but then regained 12 pounds over the next 4 years. So, I rededicated myself and lost 100 pounds in the next year, and then another 10 and finally another 30, altogether losing 188 pounds. By August 2017, I had become, quite literally (375/2 = 187.5), “just half the man I used to be,” to quote my wife.

I’m proud of the weight loss, of course, but importantly (and I almost forgot to mention it), from the beginning, my type 2 diabetes has been IN REMISSION (clinically neither “diabetic” nor “prediabetic”). My A1c is now 5.4%. Following the diet strictly, taking my prescribed meds, on the 1st day, I had a late afternoon “hypo” (a low blood sugar). I felt a little light headed, so I ate a candy bar and called my doctor who took me off one of the meds. The next afternoon I had another hypo, and he cut the other two meds in half, and soon after he cut them in half again. He then took me off the SU (micronase) completely and left me only on metformin, which I still take today. And I haven’t had a hypo since!

Importantly, my blood lipids also greatly improved: over a few months my HDL more than doubled, my triglycerides were cut by 2/3rds and my LDL stayed the same. My doctor saw me monthly for a year (quarterly now) and with all the weight loss, he was also able to cut back on my blood pressure meds.

And for the skeptics out there, here’s the big surprise: Today, MORE THAN 20 YEARS LATER, after making this lifestyle change in my Way of Eating, I am still more than 150 pounds lighter than when I started. At 222 pounds today, I’m at the weight I was when I started high school 70 years ago.

The diet? It goes by different names today, but there is only one governing principle: eat VERY LOW CARB. Just avoid them. All of them. There are NO essential carbs. The body can make all the glucose it needs from amino acids (from protein) and fatty acids (from triglycerides/fat) through gluconeogenesis. If a food is not fat or protein, it’s a carb. Period! If you’re overweight, or prediabetic, or a diagnosed type 2, you’re CARBOHYDRATE INTOLERANT. Avoid them.  To be healthy again, JUST DON’T EAT CARBS.

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