Sharing the story from my friend and colleague from the US Air Force Marathon Rachael McKinney . She took on Type 2 Diabetes for her English Class paper and has almost reversed her husband’s Diabetes and improved the whole families health! I’d give this A plus. Thank you Rachael and Michael for sharing this story.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
My husband Michael has been a Type 2 Diabetic for 10 years, and recently he learned that his pancreas is shutting down due to his body’s inability to produce the appropriate amounts of insulin. Soon after learning about that, I heard Doctor Mark Cucuzzella, a professor at West Virginia University and a family care physician, speak on the topic of diabetes. He quoted Hippocrates, saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” (Cucuzzella). Doctor Cucuzzella was teaching the audience that simply by one changing their diet to low-carbohydrate eating, one could reverse their Type 2 Diabetes. His teaching was contrary to the typical medicine world, who want to prescribe more and more medicine, but the statistics and examples he shared proved his claim. Diabetes has touched the lives of several of my close friends and family members. My dad is a diabetic and my grandfather was as well. So, the topic of diabetes surrounds my family history, not just my husband’s health. Therefore, when Dr. Cucuzzella said reversing Type 2 Diabetes was possible, I began to listen.
Diabetes is a life-threatening disease with over 50% of all Americans being pre-diabetic (Cucuzzella). Diabetes is when the body develops insulin resistance, therefore the glucose levels in the blood are elevated. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps regulate the amount of glucose that runs through the body. More often than not, when a diabetic is diagnosed, eventually injecting more insulin in the form of medicine becomes part of the solution. However, based on what I have learned in recent months, diabetics can actually take more control of the situation simply by changing the diet to a very low carbohydrate intake. Facts backed by science and medical research cannot be argued. The rate at which diabetes is growing in the United States in part because of the consumption of added sugars is alarming. Simply by becoming more aware of the intake and lowering those levels of carbohydrates consumed, society can begin the reversal of Type 2 Diabetes, little by little.
First of all, society should know that studies have proven that consuming more carbohydrates raises the risk of diabetes significantly. This proven fact is why Doctor Mark Cucuzzella is trying to educate others on lowering the carbohydrate intake level so that diabetes can be reversed. He said, “Insulin resistance is the most common medical condition present in a majority of the world’s populations. Those with insulin resistance who eat high carbohydrate diets develop persistently elevated blood insulin concentrations. Higher insulin levels promote more resistance. So it is a doom loop unless you reverse it” (Cucuzzella). To add to his statement, in her speech given through Purdue University, Dr. Sarah Hallberg shared astonishing statistics that 50% of the American population are experiencing diabetes or symptoms of pre-diabetes (Hallberg). In essence, these statistics prove that the rate at which Type 2 Diabetes is growing is rapidly increasing year by year, in large part due to the eating habits of society.
One consumes far too many carbohydrates than the body can handle, therefore the insulin levels increase and the diagnosis is delivered. On top of this problem, Doctor Hallberg shared that it’s a bad circle that goes around. A patient has high blood sugar, so the doctor prescribes medication to help lower that blood sugar. Then the patient needs to consume more carbohydrates to keep that blood sugar normal. Then more medication needs administered. It’s an ugly cycle that won’t stop until a person decides they simply need to change their way of life. Doctor Dean Schillenger works as the Chief of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for the California Department of Public Health. In his research, he shared scientific statistics that prove consuming more sugar raises the level of being a diabetic. He said
The science behind the diabetes epidemic is clear: added sugar, especially in sugary drinks, is a major contributor to getting Type 2 diabetes. Having just one soda per day, over time, raises a person’s risk of getting diabetes by 26%. An estimated 29.1 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and another 35 – 90 million are believed to have pre-diabetes. Projections suggest that 40 percent of U.S. children will develop the disease within their lifetime.(Schillinger)
How exactly does one become more aware of the sugar intake and what carbohydrates effect the body? Dr. Sarah Hallberg gives an easy 5 rules of eating to help educate on this topic. She says, “If it says “light”, “low fat” or “fat-free” it must stay in the grocery store. Eat food! Don’t eat anything you don’t like. Eat when you are hungry. Don’t eat when you are not. and No GPS-grains, potatoes or sugar” (Hallberg). Dr. Hallberg is teaching her patients to stay away from foods labeled light or low-fat because it means the food has taken out some nutrients and made it less natural, which means less healthy. That is what she means when she says “Eat food!” Food, by her speech, is what you buy that comes from the ground. It’s green, it’s natural, it comes from an animal, and it’s not processed material put into a box. Not eating grains, potatoes or sugars may seem like a challenge, but in becoming educated on what foods exist, many recipes are available to provide the same delicious taste without the effects of giving diabetes. Another great resource on learning how to eat on a low-carbohydrate lifestyle is Doctor Phil Maffetone. Doctor Maffetone is a registered clinician, author and researcher in nutrition. He introduced the two-week test. The two week test is not meant to be a diet, but a way to implement a new low-carb eating lifestyle. The idea is that one will record all medical symptoms (including, but not limited to, blood sugar levels) prior to entering the two week test. In the two weeks, one takes out almost all simple and refined carbohydrates and continues to record symptoms or how those pre-recorded medical issues change. When two weeks is complete, one begins slowly implementing healthy carbohydrates again, continues recording symptoms, and as a result, can essentially figure out what carbohydrates effect their personal body. His method has been tried and tested for many years, and is medically sound and proven. Doctor Maffetone says
Many low-glycemic diets offer gimmicks that teach you how to manipulate meals so you can eat refined carbohydrates and sugar by adding fat or fiber to unhealthy foods. That is not healthy eating. It’s cheating your body. On the other hand, the Two-Week Test teaches you which foods are best for your optimal health-everyone is different and responds differently to carbohydrates and other nutrients. (Maffetone)
Many doctors are not providing the actual solutions, they are really feeding the problem by pushing more medicine rather than encouraging a change in lifestyle. Between the plans that Doctor Hallberg and Doctor Maffetone offer, one can gain self-education and begin the process of understanding what carbohydrates effect them and what ones do not. As diabetics begin to do this, not only will the health of society become better, but also one’s finances can improve as well.
The American Diabetes Association writes in their article “The Rising Cost of Diabetes in America,” about why the cost of diabetes is rising and how expensive it becomes.
In 2012 diagnosed diabetes cost the nation an estimated $245 billion. The number is up $43 billion from 2007, a result of the growing number of people with diabetes. People with diabetes spend an average of 2.3 times the amount of people without diabetes spend each year on their health. That works out to an average of $13,700 a year per person, about $7,900 of which is directly attributed to diabetes.(American Diabetes Association)
As the statistics here show, the cost is high (See Figure 1). One contributing factor is that diabetes is also a direct contribution to heart disease. If a diabetic can learn to implement the lifestyle of low carbohydrate living, he/she will significantly reduce their healthcare costs! Imagine not needing insulin, shots, medicine, blood work or doctor appointments every few months, how much money that would save a person! Some will argue that the cost of buying fresh foods that are low-carb will be too expensive. While it is more expensive to shop naturally, compare that against the cost of doctor visits and medicines as stated above. One cannot argue that the cost of eating healthier is nothing compared to the healthcare cost of diabetes. Doctor Schillenger shared a similar statistic saying that “In 2004, diabetes cost Americans $700 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity — up by 41% from just five years earlier” (Schillenger). The fact of the matter is that the cost is not just affecting Americans. It’s a world-wide issue. Sella Oneka of the Africa News Service reported
The cost of treatment is however still a major burden for those affected with diabetes. The cost for 25 days of treatment is about 1,500 Kenyan Shillings ($14, 80 or 13 euros), which as Jamillah Mwanjisi from the NGO Help Age, points out is too expensive for many Kenyans. The NGO campaigns for the rights and support of the elderly, who in Kenya rarely have a pension or health insurance. “For older people it is almost impossible to pay because most of them have no access to any sort of income.” Additionally, the accessibility and costs of getting to a health center that has the available treatment add to the difficulty of those affected. (Oneka)
The cost will only continue rising. Therefore, if one chooses to utilize the information at hand to reduce their risk of or actual diagnose of diabetes altogether, thousands of dollars will be saved.
Several arguments do exist against the idea of diabetes being reversible. One argument is that society will say, and has come to believe, that if one doesn’t eat carbohydrates, one won’t have energy. Doctor Jeff S. Volek and Doctor Stephen D. Phinney co-authored a book called The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. Together they have complied research scientifically and medically along the lines of the benefits of low-carbohydrate living. They write:
Yes, carbs do provide one source of energy for your muscles and brain, but both of these organs have completely adequate alternatives derived from dietary fat. A high carbohydrate diet blocks your ability to employ fat to fuel your brain. There is no other reason we have to include carbohydrates in the diet, which is another way of saying carbohydrates are not an essential dietary nutrient. (Volek, Phinney. p. 38.)
The body has fat built in to provide that same storage of energy that society has come to rely on through carbohydrates instead. Contrary to the old opinion that fat is bad for the body, fat is actually very good! When the body adjusts properly to insulin levels, fat becomes the body’s favorite fuel. Food like bacon, eggs, butter, meats, and more become what your body needs to keep going; not the traditional thoughts of pasta, breads or rice. One can certainly function well utilizing energy off a higher fat, lower carbohydrate lifestyle.
Another argument found by society against the reversal of diabetes is the fact that not enough healthy choices exist. In a study reported by Australian health specialist reporter, Harriet Alexander, she shared the differences between two areas of her country. One had plenty of fresh food choices and one had more fast food choices. Of course the area with fresh food choices served to be the one with less cases of diabetes. That fact speaks volumes to the idea that eating fresh food is a factor in lowering the risk of diabetes. While it may be true that fast food is more time-efficient and even cheaper than buying fresh food, one ought to return to the idea stated earlier in the paper, that overcoming the illness will in fact save thousands of dollars. One may have to drive a little farther or spend a little extra, but in the bigger picture, that becomes pennies over dollars. Perhaps more fast food chains do exist; that obstacle is one that can be overcome through a united effort.
In essence, the quote Doctor Cucuzzella used, quoting Hippocrates, saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” means that if one allows the diet to be adjusted to healthier ways, such as low carbohydrate intake, then that can easily become the way of life for a diabetic rather than relying on medication to control the insulin and diabetes levels. Statistics prove the rate of diabetes is growing rapidly, as is the cost of the disease. If society can take a more active role in practicing the healthy ways of reducing its amount of carbohydrates, a revolution could truly occur to reverse the disease. As my family has begun to implement these discoveries over the last couple of months, my husband’s blood sugar has regulated to nearly normal, and he has dropped from being on 4 medications to only 2. His HGB A1C has dropped from 11 to 6 [average sugars of near 300 to now close to 100] and at the same time dropped 15 pounds and a couple belt holes. We believe he will soon be able to go down to none with the way of life of low carbohydrate living. Reversing Type 2 diabetes takes time, patience, education and dedication, but it is clearly possible.
*additional notes from Mark
– Michael will wean the night insulin which is likely holding back the complete DM reversal as the body needs low insulin at night to burn fat.
– Her son has lost 20 pounds of fat from the lifestyle change of healthy eating and running middle school cross country
Alexander, Harriet. “Weaning the West off a diet of Sugar and Fat.” Sun-Herald [Sydney, Aus tralia] 15 May 2016: 4. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
American Diabetes Association. “The Rising Cost of Diabetes in America.” Diabetes Forecast. June 2013. Web. 11 October 2016.
Cucuzzella, Mark, M.D. Personal Interview. 16 September 2016.
Hallberg, Sarah, M.D. “Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Starts with Ignoring the Guidelines.” Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube, 4 May 2013. Web. 11 October 2016.
Maffetone, Phil. “Carbohydrate Intolerance and the Two-Week Test.” MAF. May 6, 2015. Web.
19 October 2016. <http://philmaffetone.com>
Mogundo, Bonnie. “The Rising Cost of Diabetes: Why Isn’t More Money Spent on Prevention?”
Much More Than Food. December 2014. Web. 9 November 2016.
Oneko, Sella. “Diabetes – Changing Lifestyles Affect Health in Africa.” Africa News Service 9 Apr. 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
Schillinger, Dean. “Why Sugar Matters Today. Finding Tools to Fight Diabetes.” Sugar Science. University of California San Francisco. January 2015. web. 10 October 2016.
Volek, Jeff S. M.D. and Stephen D. Phinney, M.D. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. Beyond Obesity, 2011.