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Diabetes Health Leaders Finally Realizing Low-Carb Diet Has Merit

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:30pm
When I asked Dr. Richard D. Feinman, professor of biochemistry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York and renowned low-carb researcher, about when he thought diabetes health leaders--including the American Diabetes Association (ADA)--would start realizing livin' la vida low-carb has merit during my interview with him in June 2006, his answer was hopeful.

"With diabetes, carbohydrate restriction has been a traditional treatment and because the underlying physiology is obvious and accepted. Since low carbohydrates stabilize glucose and insulin excursions, we can expect progress pretty soon. Even the ADA is probably trying to back into carbohydrate restriction with a minimum of losing face."

Well, it's about to happen and none too soon.

According to my friend and fellow low-carb blogger Laura Dolson from the About Low-Carb Diets web site, there are "potential changes in ADA recommendations" to be announced in January 2008. It seems they are FINALLY listened to those of us who advocate carbohydrate restriction and are are going to abandon their high-carb recommendations. So much for people like Hope Warshaw dictating what diabetes policy looks like in the United States and it's about time.

Coming in January 2008, the ADA is expected to publish new dietary guidelines for people suffering with diabetes where livin' la vida low-carb will be acknowledged and promoted as one way to improve the symptoms of this awful disease. A talking head from the ADA states "there is growing recognition that a variety of diets including low carbohydrate diets, can achieve weight loss [and] improve postprandial blood glucose." We'll definitely be looking forward to the new ADA dietary guidelines coming in the January 2008 issue of Diabetes Care and report to you any positive changes they are expected to make. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, the paradigm shift is also happening in the grassroots among those who are passionate about helping people with diabetes. Take Jackie Eberstein, co-author of Atkins Diabetes Revolution and who worked directly with the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins for three decades, for example. In celebration of National Diabetes Month in November, she wrote an outstanding positive message on carb control for diabetics.

Her overall message is one of prevention--knowing the warning signs BEFORE you are diagnosed with diabetes, changing your lifestyle to put yourself in a better position to avoid it, and take the subject of diabetes health as serious as your heart health. Essentially, diabetes has become a rampant disease of modern society because of our poor dietary habits and over 1 in 5 have no idea they have it (a dangerous place to be in considering carbohydrates--poison for diabetics--are the primary macronutrient in most American households).

Untreated diabetes leaves a haunting trail of obvious symptoms:

"Once the disease has progressed common symptoms such as extreme thirst, extreme hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, unusual fatigue, blurred vision and the slow healing of cuts and bruises makes the diagnosis easier," Eberstein explained. "But by the time these symptoms are apparent, blood sugar levels have been elevated for a long time causing silent damage to every cell in the body."

These are merely precursors to the even worse damage that can happen to your body, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease--something neurologist Dr. Larry McCleary describes in his book The Brain Trust Program as "Type 3 diabetes."

Eberstein expresses her concern that the ADA has traditionally recommended a low-fat, low-calorie diet that includes too many carbohydrates for a diabetic causing them to rely on upwards of 3-6 medications to keep their disease moderately controlled. She is deeply disturbed by the potential and known side effects of these drugs while the ADA has turned a blind eye to the negative impact extra sugars and refined flour have had on this. I know she will be anxious to see the new changes in the ADA recommendations come January.

Be sure to check out all the diabetes risk factors that Eberstein notes for people with Type 2 diabetes in her column. It very well could save your life or the life of your loved one.

Another exciting development regarding the embracing of the low-carb message for diabetics comes from the top diabetes blogger online today--Amy Tenderich from Diabetes Mine. Although I was less than impressed by her lack of even a single acknowledgment of livin' la vida low-carb for people with diabetes in her 2007 book release Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes, I was blown away to see Tenderich was willing to at least hear what actual low-carbers have to say about what they eat to control their diabetes with the low-carb lifestyle when she requested recipes from the members of my new "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Discussion" forum.

She was so moved by my readers that she reprinted the column "Low-Carb Favorites, from the Devotees" at THANKS Amy and I'm happy to see your openness to new ideas that go against everything you've ever known to be true in the past. That takes courage and strength beyond the scope of modern journalism to do and I applaud you for it.

But Tenderich didn't stop there. Check out her recent guest post at Diet-Blog where she lists "10 Ways to Treat Diabetes With Diet." She particularly points out that diabetics need to watch their carbs to control their A1c levels, be aware of the carb content in the foods they eat, avoid "carb-heavy choices," watch out for corn syrup on nutritional labels, not equate sugar-free with carb-free, and the best one of them all--CURB THE CARBS (go straight to #7 for this one!). Sure, she still sticks with the low-fat mantra that has been what she's known for years, but at least Tenderich is moving in the right direction.

Her conclusion regarding past ADA recommendations is spot on:

"There’s a lot of controversy over the ADA's food pyramid for people with diabetes, because they recommend more breads, grains, and starches (carb-heavy foods) than anything else," Tenderich stated. "We have to side with the patients-in-the-know: keep the carbs low for better control of blood sugar."

And that, my low-carb friends, is what I call progress in this effort to bring legitimacy and practicality to the world of diabetes health. This is merely the beginning of a major change in health policy that could very well cascade into the general dietary recommendations at some point in the future. First things first, though. Let's get diabetics eating this way and vastly improving their health and then the turnaround will speak for itself.

Labels: ADA, Amy Tenderich, blood sugar, diabetes, Diabetes Mine, dietary guidelines, health, Jackie Eberstein, Laura Dolson, recommendations, Richard Feinman

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