Friday, June 24, 2011

"Low-Calorie Diet Offers Hope of Cure for Type 2 Diabetes"

Two of my colleagues told me about this story today, (one of them heard it on NPR this morning, although I can't find the link):

"Eleven people with diabetes took part in the study, which was funded by Diabetes UK. They had to slash their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months. But three months later seven of the 11 were free of diabetes.

"'To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable – and all because of an eight-week diet,' said Roy Taylor, professor at Newcastle University, who led the study. 'This is a radical change in understanding type 2 diabetes. It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with the condition. While it has long been believed that someone with type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.'...

"...The research, presented today at the American Diabetes Association conference, shows that an extremely low-calorie diet, consisting of diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables, prompts the body to remove the fat clogging the pancreas and preventing it from making insulin...."

First, I would like to ask why it is journalists only report the most idiotic stories?  And why is it that scientists like this are apparently so unaware of the scientific literature as to not understand immediately why this diet works?

For heavens' sake, Dr. Bernstein has only been doing this for forty years, and could explain to these knuckleheads why this works in about 8 seconds...

So let's review what's going on here: If you fast, your body produces fuel from energy stores in the following ratio: 70% fat, 20% carbs, and 10% protein.  Since these people are basically starving, their body is preoducing energy from their energy stores. 

So what's healing these people in the study above, is a high-fat diet.  If you make the diet low-carb enough, it becomes "ketogenic", and then magically aquires the ability to cure a range of diseases, including diabetic kidney failure.  This has also been demonstrated in humans, and, as Peter of Hyperlipid notes in the last link, "ignored" by the scientific establishment and the media.

A high-fat diet is metabolically equivalent to starvation, and maintains all the benefits of starvation, with out having to actually starve. Duh. Which option would you take?

What's missing in a high-fat diet?  Carbohydrates.  What is diabetes?  It's carbohydrate intolerance.  No carbs, no intolerance.  Problem solved.  (Yes, it's a little more complicated than that, but if you want the roadmap, buy Dr. Bernstein's book, The Diabetes SOLUTION.)

The study (full text available at the link) starts off:

"Type 2 diabetes is regarded as inevitably progressive, with irreversible beta cell failure. The hypothesis was tested that both beta cell failure and insulin resistance can be reversed by dietary restriction of energy intake."

It's been shown several times recently that a paleo-style diet will also cure diabetes.  Why?  Low-carb, high-fat.  No starvation required, unless you're a scientist who doesn't read the literature or a journalist who's not familiar with Google.  [P.S. The success rate in the paleo diabetes cure was 100%, the success rate in the starvation cure was 75%. The difference? Starving yourself is hard, people dropped out.]

What did they feed these poor victims?

"After the baseline measurements, individuals with type 2 diabetes started the diet, which consisted of a liquid diet formula (46.4% carbohydrate, 32.5% protein and 20.1% fat; vitamins, minerals and trace elements; 2.1 MJ/day [510 kcal/day]; Optifast; Nestlé Nutrition, Croydon, UK)."
The first ingredient in Optifast is sugar.  I think this falls under Stephan's research on food reward.  Who would want to eat this stuff?

One of my colleagues (mentioned above) is himself diabetic, and is well on his way towards reversing his and his daughter's condition with the paleo diet.  He found this study particularly absurd, as well he should, given his own success.

So you can starve yourself, or you can do what this lady did, and make your medical professionals look like fools while eating like a king.  Your call.

And I have to say that at least this study represents a tiny bit of progress.  Figuring out that you can cure diabetes simply by using the body's own mechanisms is a pretty big leap forward, for the American Diabetes Association.

What is fascinating is that the pancreas of these people started functioning again.  They blame the lack of insulin production on fatty pancreas, which apparently goes along with fatty liver.  However, then they go on to say,

"There was no correlation between indices of insulin secretion and pancreatic fat..."

I don't know how you reconcile those two notions.

(For some amusing FUD on Atkins and low-carb diets, see here:

"Very-low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are often rich in animal fats and cholesterol. Many health experts are concerned that if such a diet is consumed for a long period of time, the fat and cholesterol it contains may place people at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases including stroke and heart attack.

"An Atkins-like diet contains around 20 grams of carbohydrate a day. This is roughly the same amount of carbohydrate found in a single banana. The diet is so low in carbohydrate it is virtually a no-carbohydrate diet. Consuming adequate carbohydrate is important because many tissues in the human body must use glucose, a simple carbohydrate for energy. When people eat less than 100 grams of carbohydrate a day, their bodies compensate by significantly altering their metabolism. These metabolic changes generate waste products that must be removed from the blood by the kidneys.

"Kidney function naturally declines as people age. Kidney function is also impaired by diabetes. Thus, many health experts fear that long-term use of very-low-carbohydrate diets, particularly by aging baby boomers (many of whom have Type II diabetes), may contribute to kidney damage.[3]

"In addition to concerns about kidney function, researchers have documented an increased risk for a host of medical problems such as cancer, diverticulitis, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis in individuals who restrict intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products long term.[4]"

Wow, if any of that stuff was true, I'd be afraid of my low-carb diet also!)