The journey into becoming a diabetic is one that most of us join without knowing the consequences of what we’re doing. There are a lot opinions out there, even among doctors, as to what actually “causes” diabetes, but pretty much everyone I read knows that diabetes is highly related to obesity and carbohydrate overconsumption. And when I was diagnosed, more than twenty years ago, the information I was given was faulty and at the very least incomplete.
What no one ever said was that if I continued to eat what I thought of as a “normal” amount of carbohydrates and sugar every day, by the time I retired my life would be severely circumscribed, with many symptoms of diabetes and other metabolic syndrome related diseases causing continuing pain, physical exhaustion and emotional distress. I also suffer from chronic fatigue and despite having lost some weight, am still fighting the good fight doing intermittent fasting three days a week for 36 hours.
So what should I have been taught as a younger person, that might have protected me from getting full blown diabetes and other metabolic syndrome diseases.
Eat less carbohydrates. A lot less. On my current low carb high fat diet I keep my carbs below 150 grams a day. Eat even less added sugar. I try not to eat anything with added sugars, and when I do offend I eat very small portions of any sweet at all. Mind you, my appetite for sweet things has pretty much disappeared since I started avoiding them. Stay away from booze. Period. Lots of doctors and dieticians say that a one or two drinks a day is okay. I don’t believe them. Alcohol does similar things to the liver as carbohydrates, without the redeeming quality of providing me with any energy.
Always seek to reduce the amount of starch and sugar, and fill up on natural food if you are going to eat carbs. Eat fruit in season, in your area, and don’t overindulge even in fruit and vegetables.
Try not to get depressed because you can’t have any “real” food. Try to redefine what constitutes a meal, and understand that the meat and vegetables are really enough.
I have been afflicted with Type 2 Diabetes for more than twenty-five years. Perhaps even longer, since my partner reports that she saw symptoms of it even in my late twenties and early thirties. But despite diagnosis in the 1990’s by my doctors, and a referral to an endocrinologist who worked out of St. Paul’s hospital at the same time, the seriousness of the disease and its potential consequences were not really taken into account until relatively recently, when some of the symptoms started to become more pronounced.
Truthfully, until the summer of last year, I didn’t really feel like it was even possible to have any real impact on my diabetes. After being put on insulin, nearly fifteen years ago, with steady weight gain and gradually increasing problems related to my diabetes, I think I didn’t really believe there was anything I could do about the decline in my health, and probable premature death from diabetes related conditions and disease.
On my birthday last year, my middle son gave me a copy of a book by Dr. Jason Fung, on which I have written a lot in this blog in the past. Reading his book, The Diabetic Code, taught me that I need not be doomed to continual decline as a result of diabetes, but in fact could take control of my lifestyle, and thereby forestal future declines in my health, and even, perhaps, recaptures some of the vigor of my earlier years.
From July until the present I have been working towards a better life. I’ve lost a bit of weight, about 30 pounds down from my weight last summer, although I’m back up 10 pounds more or less since November, as a result of failing to maintain my lifestyle changes over the Christmas break.
Starting last night I am back to doing my intermittent fasting for three days a week, thirty-six hours for each day. During November I went from strictly obeying the fasting hours, and not eating anything, to eating Keto foods which are not supposed to break the fast. Whatever I thought I was doing, what was really happening was that my fasts became shorter and far less effective.
Fasting now until I reach my net goal of reaching 15 BMI during the current calendar years is my objective, for now, until I get my weight down from 222 pounds down to 167 pounds for a total weight loss of 55 pounds over the next 12 months. It doesn’t sound too daunting, having to lose between four and five pounds a month to reach my goal. But of course my goal isn’t really so much about losing weight as it is about gaining control over my blood glucose levels, and wrestling my metabolic syndrome to a point where my health doesn’t continue to decline, or lead to ever more serious consequences of my diabetes.
It is discouraging losing weight by changing your lifestyle, in many different ways, but intermittent fasting and eating a low carb diet is probably the least difficult method. All it requires of me is to pay attention to what I eat when I’m not fasting, and to fast long enough and for enough days, to ensure that my liver gets a reboot, during this process. Even when I reach my targeted goal it will not be the end of managing my carbohydrate and sugar intake. A healthy lifestyle for a diabetic (or former diabetic, which is what I’m trying to achieve) should be one that avoids carbohydrate and sugar in one’s diet, on a day to day basis.
Of course, all people need some carbohydrate and sugar in their diets, but it should always be extremely limited since it has proved to be so problematic to long term health. I’m recommitting to changing my lifestyle to a healthier and strong future. This recommitment includes reasserting my plan to get out and walk an average of 4,000 or more steps, at least four or five days out of the week. With serious neuropathy in my feet this isn’t always easy, but it is nonetheless critically important, to build and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
It’s currently two o’clock in the afternoon, and I haven’t eaten anything since about eight o’clock last night. My next meal will be tomorrow morning about eight o’clock, when I’ll have breakfast. My next fast will start tomorrow after dinner, at about eight o’clock tomorrow night, and will continue until 8:00 am on Thursday morning.
Hang in there with me, folks. I may not be changing the world, but I’m certainly changing my world.
It’s Thursday night, and I’m sitting in an airplane, about to take off for New York. I’m heading home from Las Vegas after attending Obesity Week 2019, the world’s largest obesity medicine conference, a collaboration between The Obesity Society and The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons.
I don’t quite know how to express my feelings and thoughts about this event, but the words ‘anger’ and ‘hopelessness’ immediately come to mind. My anger and hopelessness are best exemplified by the first keynote speech, delivered by Dr. William Cefalu, who is chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.
After accurately describing our country’s spiralling healthcare costs, and the morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes and obesity, Dr. Cefalu went on to discuss the benefit of low-calorie approaches for diabetes reversal. He also highlighted bariatric surgery and medications. But ultimately, he harped on one point, that is frequently repeated at conventional obesity medicine conferences:
“There is no best diet. The best diet is one that a patient can adhere to.”
The above article by Dr. Tro Kalayjian the physician behind Dr. Troys Medical Weight Loss and Direct Primary Care is a discussion about why it is so difficult for the medical profession to accept fundamental changes in medical understanding about diabetes and current treatments for it. It is why patients continue to get contradictory advice from doctors who really ought to know better than to recommend any number of established and well known dietary strategies that simply don’t work. It’s not that they don’t work anymore, it’s that they never worked, and there is no scientific basis for any of them.
This sounds pretty revolutionary to me. The esteemed Canadian doctor is joined by a number of US based colleagues who are challenging the status quo in the treatment of diabetes, and sending a message to their profession. Just stop! Stop misleading the public! Stop lying to patients! Stop killing your clients!
Of course, they are doctors and they don’t quite put it that way. But what else can you say when so many health professionals and authorities continue to promulgate misleading information, such as “moderation is the best strategy” when clearly, based on current information that is simply not true. Moderation will kill you if by moderation you include relatively mundate advice about carbohydrates and sugar. What sciences know is that consuming carbs in excess of certain pretty limited amounts leads to metabolic syndrome, metabolic syndrome leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to diabetes. Diabetes leads to lots of really bad stuff that can kill you, or at the least, make you really really sick.
If you or someone you love is fat, obese, or has diabetes or prediabetes follow the link on this blog entry to the above article and understand what is being said. Doctors are willfully ignoring solid medical evidence in favor of standing by old, disproved theories because they are afraid of rocking the boat. Read Dr. Fung’s book, the Diabetic Code.
Stop believing anyone who says that eating many small meals a day is ok. Stop following advice so far heard that has led you to being overweight and obese. If you want to live and healthy, long life, fire your current endrochronologist if he or she disparages the most recent research and tells you not to follow Dr. Fung’s advice. Run away from anyone who says that carbs and sugars are not the cause of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many many many other life threatening diseases.
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
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.
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.
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 NOTa 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.
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.
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.