Fasting for my life

I’m current engaged in intermittent fasting. That is I fast three days a week for 36 hours each day of fasting. I thought it would be hell. I was wrong.

I’ve previously blogged about why I’m fasting. It’s a part of getting rid of diabetes from my life, in as much as that is possible. It’s a part of a change in eating habits that started in my childhood and led me to becoming a Type 2 Diabetic before I was 40 years old.

Prior to starting the change, on July 10, 2019, I weighed in at 244 pounds (111.13 kilograms), about 80 (36 kg) pounds above my ideal recommended weight of 165 (75 kg) pounds. Even that is more than the Canada Health Guide suggests would be my healthiest weight. The guide suggests that I should weigh between 145 (65lg) and 165 (75 kg) another 20 pounds (9 kg) less.

Whichever weight guide I use the real point of this fast is not really about weight, or even the Body Mass Index. (I was at 45 BMI when I started this.) It is about my diabetes and my obesity. Losing fat is precisely the point of this exercise, in that it is fat, particularly around the waist and in the internal organs that is the source of insulin resistance itself, the precursor and the cause of Type 2 Diabetes.

According to Dr. Jason Fung, in the Diabetic Code, one of the most effective ways to reduce and eventually eliminate diabetes is to fast on an intermittent basis for sufficiently long enough for the body to attack and consume the fat in the liver, the pancreas, and the other internal organs responsible for regulating insulin production and diabetes. My 36 hour fasting periods are recommended by Dr. Fung, along with a much reduced carbohydrate load on the days I do eat. By doing the fast it is suggeted I will cause my body to start using the fat accumulated in my internal organs, even before I lose significant weight from elsewhere in my body.

Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. Ezra Taft Benson

Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ezra_taft_benson_556127?src=t_fasting

So what is it like? Fasting three days a week for about a day and a half each time? It’s not hell! That much I can say. I have found that I don’t really miss eating on my fasting days, although food is very much still top of mind. I’m constantly reminded of the fact I’m fasting by the smells and sights of food being consumed and promoted.

Truthfully, on my non-fasting days I have more problems with food than on the days I don’t eat at all. It is hard to make the adjustment to eating meals with substantially less carbs and sugars than I am used to. There are whole types of foods that used to be my main diet that I no longer eat, including things like pasta, potatoes in the form of french fries or chips, bread served at every meals, desserts like donuts which I used to eat at lunch every day.

And even at that, I don’t really miss the high calorie carb and sugar foods like pop and cookies. I quickly figured out that the low carb diet didn’t mean that I have to go hungry, but simply means that I fill up on other things that don’t cause my liver to produce more insulin and convert more sugars and carbs in more and more fat. I’m eating more fish, meat and fatty foods like avocados. Until now I have never thought of eggs as healthy, or as a main source of protein and fat, in a good way.

I’m having to unlearn bad food habits, both in the sense of things I now avoid, as well as things I eat more. My diet is getting more interesting and diverse, because no longer do I use sugar in food to make it palatable. Sugar is fine is small doses. Really small doses!

I still eat potatoes. Really small potatoes, and not deep fried. And only a small amount of potatoes with my dinner meals, if any at all. Same with rice and pasta. Same with really sugary fruits, like my standard apples and bananas. Now I eat a lot of salads, with my meat or eggs or fish or vegetable proteins.

This is my fourth week of fasting three times a week, for 36 hours each time. Oh, and by the way, I am losing weight and fat around my belly. So far my belt is now on the smallest hole setting. I’ll need a new belt soon, as I keep going.

The first couple of weeks on my changed diet, even before I started the fasting part, I lost 10 pounds, and I immediately lost another ten pounds in the first three weeks of fasting, But my weight has been static for a few days after that initial success. For the past five days my weight has been going up and down about five pounds. Hopefully I’ll break through to a new low soon and quit cycling. But whether or not I’m losing weight quickly or slowly I know that I’m pushing my body to clean up the fat in my liver, and that’s the whole point of this.

I’ll be touch, as I continue this journey where I’ve never gone before.


Fasting: For my health’s sake

I started an intermittent fast a little over a week ago. By this I mean that three times a week, for 36 hours in the row, I don’t eat anything.

Nothing.

Nada.

On the days between my fasting, I eat less than 150 carbs including sugars, but mostly avoid anything with added sugars. I do eat some fruit in the form of berries, apples, bananas, and other fruits, but no more than two servings (basically half an apple is one serving).

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My plan is to do this for at least three months, or until I don’t need to do it to get rid of my diabetes. I’ve had diabetes for a long time, and have been on insulin for about 10 years or so. I’ve been told all of my life that diabetes is incurable, but treatable with diet and exercise. My doctors have always told me that it is a progressive disease. Over time it gets worse and worse. Which it has in my case. That is, gotten worse and worse.

My doctor and I decided to try the new patch and Free Style Meter, along with long lasting insulin and fast acting insulin. Basically my previous insulin regime had caused me to increase my weight to 245 pounds. I’d already been diagnosed as obese by my family doctor for more than twenty years, and I’d never weighed more that 220 prior to going on insulin. This new meter and new type of insulin is supposed to be an improvement over the previous mixed insulin (Humulin 30/70). The doctor said that he hoped that it would lower my AIC by reducing my base blood sugar to 7, and cause my blood sugar to fall to 10mml within two hours of eating, after taking fast acting insulin.

He felt that the change in metering by blood sugars and changing to two different types of insulin, might result in better A1C after ninety days.

Wow! Was he surprised when he saw me after 90 days, during which I’d only had the meter and new meds for about three weeks. My AIC was down from 9.9 to 8.1. My weight was down to 234 pounds from 244. My blood pressure was stable. This represented a major change in direction. For the first time in 20 years of having diabetes my weight was going in the right direction without me having to spend a month in the hospital. My blood sugars had also dropped so that my every day blood sugar range was then 5-8 mmls routinely, with only periodic spikes up to 9 or higher.

In the past I would have been ecstatic with these results, but reading Dr. Jason Fung’s “Diabetic Code” has taught me that not only can diabetes be controlled, it can be beaten altogether. But only by following a regime that allows the liver and internal organs to cleanse themselves of internal fat, will I get rid of diabetes for myself. And that regime is intermittent fasting. As the doctor indicates in his book there are many ways to achieve the results desired by different fasts but he recommends the fasting schedule and routing I’m following.

Close-up of female nurse showing heart shape with hands isolated on white background

Starting eleven days ago, I have been fasting, and following Dr. Fung’s advice. And yes, it’s been a bit of a challenge. But mostly convincing my family and friends that I’m not out of my mind and am endangering my life with such a radical change, and so quickly.

This is my fifth day of fasting, and I couldn’t be happier with my results, even after such a short period. My blood sugars have gone down and down, now typically in the target range of 5.8 to 7.8 every day. I now control my insulin, reducing the amount given to the amount needed to maintain my blood sugars in the optimal zone. On fasting days I take a 20 unit shot at midnight, and during the day watch my blood sugar coast along at 4.5. I’m almost ready to cut it again. But before I do that I think I will cut out one of my oral medications first, and set what effect this has on my sugars.

Diabetes is controllable and probably to a degree that it is no longer evident at all. But even if all I could hope to achieve was my current results, I would have been very satisfied with myself.

But I’ve just started.

So, my faithful reader, keep reading. I keep shrinking, and getting healthier.

Ending Diabetes

A couple of months ago I started to seriously revisit all the prescriptions and medications I am taking, by examining all the fact sheets on each prescription drug, particularly as to their side effects. Oh MY! did I open a can of worms when I did that! I would never have guessed that my doctors are quite supportive of my challenge to my existing regimen of treatment.

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My family doctor suggested I get my pharmacist to do a careful analysis of all of them, and make some recommendations as to how I might reduce the sheer number of drugs I’ve been taking, as well as to eliminate those which might be exacerbating some of my side effects. My pharmacist suggested that I could end up getting rid of virtually all my diabetes and related medications by the time we complete this review.

So, far from being discouraged after my initial review, I felt quite enthusiastic about challenging the status quo, and moving towards more control of my health, most particularly my diabetes.

A few weeks ago I wrote about changing how my insulin is administered as well as how it is monitored every day. My endocrinologist prescribed me new forms of insulin, one long acting and one fast acting. I also finally got the new patch, which allows me to monitor my glucose levels on an ongoing basis. Despite a bit of struggling with learning how to use the insulin, without plunging myself into a diabetic coma, it soon became clear to me that I was gaining a huge amount of control of my sugar levels, merely by having an effective biofeedback loop, combined with insulin which could be provided only when needed, and only the amounts needed at the time to control the blood sugar.

Wow! Was I surprised.

Suddenly, in a matter of only two or three weeks I discovered that I could bring my blood sugars down a lot, and not just my fasting sugars, but all of my blood sugars. I discovered that what I put in my body, other than the drugs, has a huge impact of my blood sugars.

Coincidentally, at about the same time, my son Donald, gave me a book, The Diabetes Code, by Jason Fung, MD. This book, which I have reviewed earlier in my blogs, was also a revelation. For the very first time I read about a treatment program which proposes that diabetes is NOT a lifetime sentence to a progressive and destructive disease. Instead, it is a preventable and treatable consequence of lifestyle choices within an individual’s personal control.

And even for someone with long term diabetes, after years of treatment and drugs, with many negative physical problems directly caused by diabetes, diabetes can still be beaten.

Step One. Understand that almost everything we think we know about a healthy diet is simply wrong, and out of date. In a sense, the modern type 2 diabetes epidemic is a creation of modern science in a willing collusion with food manufactures and dieticians. Prior to the last forty years Type 2 diabetes was a relatively rare disorder. In the past forty years, however, it has exploded to becoming one of the number one causes of serious illness and death. Nobody is saying that it is being done on purpose by someone, however, even if someone deliberately set out to destroy public health, all around the world, they couldn’t have done a better job of ruining millions of lives and destroying the health and well being of almost the entire population.

Step Two. Reexamine what Type 2 Diabetes actually is, rather than what health professionals have been saying for the past forty years. Type 2 Diabetes is basically the body overdosing on carbohydrates and sugars, over producing insulin in a vain attempt to force the body to use the excessive amounts of sugars being forced into the system, and systematically creating Insulin Resistance, by trying to get insulin to do a job it is not designed to do – which is to take the constant overdosing on carbohydrates and sugars, and force the cells of the body to use ever more and more of the sugars. Doing this eventually destroys the liver, and packs the liver with excessive stored energy in the form of fat. The fatter the liver, the less effective it becomes at managing the body’s blood sugar levels. Stuff too much sugar and carbohydrates into a body and eventually the body becomes diabetic and obese. Dr. Fung calls the disease Diabesity, combining the words Diabetes and Obesity into one word that describes the condition responsible for the modern malaise that is destroying so many.

Step Three. It is curable, or at least treatable. Not with complicated and expensive prescriptions but with the simplest of instructions, albeit difficult to follow for many. At the simplest level, stop eating that which is killing you. At least stop eating a potentially fatal dose of it every day of your life. It will require a major change in dietary habits, starting with today, and continuing for the rest of your life.

Step Four. Reset the diabetic system of your body. Although simply reducing carbs and sugars radically will bring your sugars (and your weight) down if followed with a certain amount of discipline, what it won’t do, according to Dr. Fung, and his research, is undo the damage done to your body from overeating and overusing carbohydrates and sugar for many years prior to diabetes being diagnosed.

What’s happened, most importantly, is that the body has over-stuffed the critical inner organs, the liver most critically, with fat converted from all the excess sugar and carbs eaten for a lifetime. The fat in the liver is hard to get rid of, even by extremely consistent reduction of carbs and sugars. And it is this fat in the liver that makes you insulin resistant. So getting rid of it as possible is essential for a long term “cure” of diabetes. Dr. Fung believes that intermittent fasting may be the only way, or at least the most likely way, to force the body to eliminate the fat in the internal organs that is most directly responsible for insulin resistance.

Woman Power Walking — Image by � MM Productions/Corbis

So, to make a long blog just a little bit shorter, I’ll get to the point. Fasting is a way to radically improve my health, by busting the elevated fat out of my “fatty liver”. So starting today, with my first 30 hour fast, I am undertaking a systematic program of combining a low carbohydrate and sugar diet with 36 hours of fasting, three days a week.

I’m planning, initially, to pursue this program for three months, in consultation with my endocrinologist and careful planning of my insulin and drug therapies. I’m to monitor my blood sugars all day long with my new meter, and adjust my insulin, up and down as needed to maintain my blood sugar in the healthy target zone of 5.8 mMl t0 7.8 mMl over the twenty-four hour day.

One last point. Do radically reduce carbs in your diet, whether you’re a diabetic or not, because if you are eating too much sugar and carbohydrates, you are now or soon still be a diabetic.

DON’T do this fast without medical consultation and supervision if you are a diabetic on insulin. I have had six dangerously low blood sugar events in the past three weeks, after never having had one in more than twenty years of diabetes. Because I monitor my blood sugars with the Freestyle patch and meter, on a regular basis, I know quickly if my blood sugars are going too low, and have taken corrective steps immediately, which means eating or drinking a high sugar content food, so immediately raise the blood sugars out of the danger zone.

While I am fasting the doctor and I have developed a strategy for administration of my insulin, to ensure that I don’t have any of these extremely low blood sugar events. So please don’t try this without medical advice and support.

So if you’re following me, and want to know how it goes, add follow and I’ll let you know.

The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally

I’m reinventing myself again. My goal is to eliminate or radically reduce prescription medications for diabetes, and a whole host of inflammatory diseases caused by the same thing that causes diabetes. 

Change doesn’t come easily when one is used to surrendering autonomy to the medical profession and simply being the obedient patient. It is NOT SAFE to simply trust that doctors know what is best for us. We already know this, but it is no surprise when we obediently follow their advice. Like everything else in life, you need to check the information out for yourself, and ask a lot of questions.

It seems that diabetes is actually caused by the thing that is supposed to cure it – insulin. In his book, The Diabetes Code, Dr. Jason Fung has coined the word diabesity – combining the words diabetes with obesity, to indicate that diabesity is caused by excess glucose in the body stored as fat, particularly in the internal organs, particularly the liver. There is a cycle in the body, controlled by the liver, that triggers the production of excessive blood sugar and results in insulin resistance.

Too much sugar and the body develops insulin resistance because the body simply can’t absorb any more sugar into the cells. To make matters worse, the medical profession prescribes increased insulin, or even just metformin, which helps the body to try to consume even more sugar.

Dr. Fung’s prescription for the elimination of diabetes is contained in a book called the Diabetes Code. Read it and weep, but understand that it calls for regular fasting to reset the diabetes cycle. 

This week I’m seeing my endocrinologist, and am going to be seeking support to follow Dr. Fung’s program. I’m curious as to what he will say.

Will he continue to prescribe insulin, Janumet, and Invokana to address my extreme diabetes? Or will he support a major lifestyle readjustment along with a fasting program to eliminate the disease altogether, eventually? I have already started to substantially reduce my carbohydrates and sugars in preparation for the revised program, and have already lost over 10 lbs in just under ten days.

I started writing about my diabetes and this journey several months ago, when I decided to review the prescription medications and their side effects, as a result of finally getting fed up with being sick, and seeming to get worse and worse and the years roll by.

With the encouragement of my middle son, Don, I began to look at diet as a major issue in my illnesses, as well as my diabetes. Sure, I went to many diabetes dietician clinics years ago when I first became aware that I was a diabetic. They always talked about reducing carbohydrates and sugars, and using diet and exercise to control my weight, and therefore help control my blood sugars.

As noted by Dr. Fung in his book, diet and exercise programs have been a massive failure, all over the world, in controlling or preventing diabetes or obesity. There are many reasons for this failure, but the medical professional continues to support this old and tired cant, that doesn’t actually work. I think the real reason that nobody wanted to actually examine diabetes and obesity with new eyes is that the old views are very profitable, to the pharmaceutical industry, the vegetable oil industry, even the health and diet industry itself.

But you’d have thought that somebody would have noticed that it didn’t work. And finally somebody has.

Anyway. Wish me luck on this new direction in my journey to solve my diabetes, and eliminate the side effects of so many medications by eliminating my need for them at all.

Finally, my wife Katherine has been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the past month, and has begun the journey through this ugly territory as well. Hopefully we can solve the riddle of the disease for both of us, and she never has to go through the years of pain and agony I am experiencing as a result of having poorly controlled blood sugar for the past twenty five years.

How to improve your health when your blood sugars are out of control.

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  • Healthy people are proactive about our health
  • Healthy people seek out more information
  • Healthy people consult professionals before implementing significant changes in our medications or lifestyle choices
  • Healthy people are patient and persistent in overcoming health or lifestyle challenges.
  • Healthy people accept total accountability for our own health, without taking on blame for things beyond our control.

What can you do to improve your AIC when you’re feeling terrible from a variety of symptoms and conditions, many of which are either a direct result of your diabetes, or at least are indirectly impacted by persistent high blood sugars.

There are any number of things you need to deal with in order to make real change. The most important of these things is probably NOT your diabetes. At least not directly.

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I’ve been a type two diabetic for many years. Diabetes probably started with me in my twenties although my first symptoms didn’t start to show up until I was nearly forty. I’m now in my sixties and I’ve been on insulin for more than fifteen years. That means I’ve been pricking my finger at least once a day since I was fifty years old, and injecting myself with insulin ever since.

The one thing I can say about my diabetes is that it has progressed in a predictable way, gradually causing negative effects to my body. All the way along the road various doctors have given me a lot of prescription medications, as well as a lot of advice. I’ve been to diabetic clinics where nurses and dieticians have attempted to teach me how to control my blood sugars through diet and exercise.

Why Me?

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes I even received counselling, to try to make sense of Why Me? I think everyone feels victimized by negative health conditions, whether it’s COPD, Heart Disease or Cancer. The answers to Why Me? are both existential and practical.

There are two parts to the answer. First, there is the part of Why Me? over which you have no control, never did, never will have and makes no difference anyway. Whether it’s fate, God, a cruel universe, DNA or the conditions of your life (including a bad diet, smoking, poor or no exercise, etc.) leading up to becoming diabetic none of them actually matter in coming to terms with the emotional fallout of Why Me?

Truthfully, there are many things I could have done differently in the past that might have made a huge difference in my experience of diabetes now and in the future. But for whatever reasons I had, or gave myself, I did what I thought was within my capacity to change in my habits and behaviors.

You can check your blood sugars regularly with you meter tests, get your AIC blood work done in the lab and consult with your doctor as often as she thinks is useful or necessary. You may make changes in your diet and exercise program, and do your best to lose weight and keep it within certain boundaries. And if you do all these things from the beginning, your diabetes will be stable and you will reduce the consequences of this disease.

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For most of us, however, no matter how much we say we care about our health, we’re not really willing to do whatever is necessary to fundamentally change our outcomes. We do some of it, maybe ever some of it every day with serious intentions.

This is the Second Part to Why Me?

This is the part of Why Me? you can control if you choose to do so. So how do you change what you do and how you act, to have a real impact on your own health? This goes back to me saying that it’s not actually about diabetes, or even about your physical health.

It’s really about becoming conscious about who and what you want to be in your own life. We’ve all been beat-up by life along the way. Parents, friends, lovers, partners and even strangers have both positive and negative impacts on our self esteem. Why is that? Why do we let anyone else impact how we feel about ourselves, and how we make positive or negative choices about our lives, including those choices about dealing with negative health outcomes resulting from poor choices.

I hate to say this but “Who cares?” It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, or how you allowed yourself to be negatively influenced regarding healthy living. It really doesn’t matter, but only if there is some way you can turn your life around and ultimately take control of those things that you can control.

How to take control and like it.

The first thing is to understand what it is you need to do to make things better. If you don’t know what you need to do, it’s pretty hard to decide what to do. So find out. See you doctors. Read everything you can find out about current treatment alternatives, and inquire from other people their experiences. Read blogs. Get new referrals to diabetic clinics and resources. Talk over alternatives with your specialist. Make a plan of action with on a few, specific steps, done regularly and persistently.

Don’t try to do everything all at once. Set limited goals with realistic objectives. For example: Don’t try to lose a lot of weight in a week or even a month. Lose weight in amounts that can actually be achieved. If you find it too hard to do by yourself, join a club or a weight loss program which comes with monitoring and emotional support. But don’t blame the program if your weight loss isn’t happening. Be totally honest with yourself, and reset your goals. Weight loss is fundamental to improved diabetic outcomes and lowering blood sugar.

Don’t hang around waiting for someone else to improve your health.

If it isn’t happening, then look elsewhere for support, but don’t give up on necessary change. Remember that whatever happened yesterday is no longer relevant unless it results in change today. Guilt is useless unless it is accompanies by a renewed sense of personal accountability.

When I graduated many years ago from UBC my school motto was TU UM EST. What I didn’t realize was how powerful an idea that really is.

TU UM EST!

Frustrated

by bureaucratic delivery of medical devices and services

Two nights ago I went to my local Shoppers Drug Mart in Walnut Grove, Langley to submit my prescription for my new type of FreeStyle Libre sensor and meter, as well as my two new types of insulin. It was a frustrating day yesterday sorting it all out, without yet having received anything… once I come up with the necessary funds. All told about $268.00 out of pocket, with $178.00 eventually refundable from Blue Cross once I send in the receipt showing that I’ve paid it.

My new insulin prescriptions are 85% covered by Blue Cross unlike my previous prescription for insulin which was covered entirely, once my initial 100 deductible is paid for the year. I don’t know why this is so, but is probably a result of this being newer technology and newer method of managing diabetes in BC and, for the moment, is grudgingly covered by Blue Cross under the agreement with my wife’s employer, and then only to 85% of the cost of the newer medications.

Money required for medications and equipment causes a lot of anxiety as money is particularly tight on my government pension, and I’m counting the days to the next pension check for when I’ll have any money to spend, pretty much on anything.

I’m don’t mean to be grumbling about my current financial situation. First of all its mostly my own fault. Secondly, the only person who can do anything about it is me, so there’s not a lot of point in getting angry about it. Still, coming up with an extra $300 all at once, halfway through the month is going to take some doing.

Assuming that I can figure out how to get the money together, it looks like I’ll be starting my new insulin regime tomorrow or the next day, and will start using my new sensor soon. I am both excited and anxious about it.

New Insulin Monitoring, and new Insulin too!

My endocrinologist has been talking about getting me set up on a whole new system of monitoring my diabetes, in an effort to improve my blood sugar management. It turns out that my Blue Cross administration approved it last fall but nobody told me that they had done so. It was only when I submitted the application again late last month, and it was declined that I found out that it had already been approved, and it was expected that I would start to use, once the approval was provided. Just as a comment, this is a good example of how not to communicate about medical affairs. If I had thought to go to the Blue Cross members page and look, I would have seen that it was approved. However, I seldom, if ever, need to go onto the website and the members area. An email would have helped.

The next step is to return to my General Practitioner for the necessary prescriptions for the machine and the insulin, and whatever ever is required to use the system. Hopefully he will also provide me with instructions on how to do this.

Flash Glucose Monitoring System for Diabetes. … The FreeStyle Libre Pro is a glucose monitoring system intended to replace finger-stick tests; it uses a sensor implanted in the arm that a health care provider scans with a specialized reader for a record of glucose levels, trends, and patterns in people with diabetes.

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I am also hoping that with the new system of monitoring and delivering my insulin during the day, that I will need less of the other medications I have been taking for some time. My pharmacist thinks my doctor should eliminate the pills I take to control the diabetes, and use close management of insulin to control the blood sugars.

The reason for this recommendation is that it seems quite likely that a number of adverse symptoms I am experiencing are possibly related to my other diabetes medicines, and if I can stop taking them these side effects may, in fact, go away.

Any, this is a new start for in trying to better control my health and my diabetes, but only one of a number of steps I plan on taking in the next months and years.

I’m also hopeful that I will be able to use my iPhone 6+ as my monitoring device rather than the one from FreeStyle Libre.