Diets that promote a high-protein, low-carbohydrate way of eating have – sadly – been lumped in with many other so-called ‘fad’ diets. In the public eye, they’re viewed as short-term solutions to weight loss. In reality, curbing the amount of carbohydrates we consume is a path to diabetes prevention.
According to a recent report from The Washington Post and the Journal of the American Medical Association examining how much the US spends on health care (see full article here) diabetes heads up a list of twenty health complaints that represent more than half of that spending. The U.S. in 2013 put a total of $101 billion into diabetes diagnostics and treatment. Statistics show that 50% of that amount was spent on pharmaceuticals – despite the fact that the medical community is aware of ways to completely avoid this chronic disease.
University of Alabama at Birmingham Professor of Nutrition Barbara Gower, Ph.D., conducts research on diet composition and disease risk, and says that diabetes can both be prevented and reversed with a carbohydrate restricted diet. A clinic at the UAB treats diabetes patients solely with diet, and as a result, medications are no longer required. “They are thrilled to stop injecting insulin, and they question why no one ever told them they could control their diabetes diet alone,” Gower said. “The conventional advice to diabetics is to eat carbs, and then inject insulin – or take other drugs.”
Why do people continue to take these medications? “The medication is needed because diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate intolerance; if the patient does not eat carbs, they do not have to use medication.”
“We need to treat diabetes like lung cancer and COPD; all of these diseases are preventable with lifestyle,” Gower added. “Further, even with established, long-term, type 2 diabetes, it can be managed with diet. It is not impossible to eat a low-carb diet that is healthful and satisfying.”
“Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients for the human body, and with proper instruction, patients can adjust their diets to minimize them.”
Physicians such as Dr. Atkins and Dr. Richard Bernstein, whose approaches to modern health revolve around abstaining from carbohydrates, were unjustly derided by many medical professionals. This is likely due to their connection to weight-loss fanaticism. The truth behind this concept is one that should be encouraged by physicians; consume less carbohydrates not to simply lose weight and look good, but to rid yourself of a daily medication regime and restore your health.
Prior to the introduction of insulin, the recommended treatment for diabetes prevention was the no-carbohydrate diet as used by Atkins and Bernstein. This was popularized by William Banting, an obese English undertaker who, in 1862, was given a strict low-carb diet by his physician Dr. William Harvey a fellow from the Royal College of Surgeons. Harvey had recently returned from France where he attended a lecture by Dr. Claude Bernstein on the role of the liver in diabetes. Banting lost one pound a week over the course of a year.
These methods of reversing diabetes – and losing weight – are still endorsed and promoted by the likes of Tim Noakes, who encourages a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for optimal health.
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