Is a Starvation Diet the Remedy for the Diabetes Epidemic?
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Global health authorities were recently shocked to find that cases of type 2 diabetes have doubled across the world in the past three decades. Drugs to treat the problem are proving an utter failure. And a 600 calorie-per-day starvation diet was proven to reverse the problem in patients diagnosed within the past four years.
Let’s begin with the June 25th Lancet study1 that is setting off international alarm bells – which are also ringing quite loudly in the U.S. The new study found that between 1980 and 2008, the number of adults with type 2 diabetes rose from 153 million to 347 million, with the United States in first place in onset of new cases amongst higher-income countries (calculated by population percent).
It is interesting that economic prosperity in India, China, and Russia has ushered in their type 2 diabetes epidemics. This indicates that given the opportunity, just about any culture on earth is willing to poison itself by eating too much food.
Another June 25th Lancet study is also very eye opening. It reports on the lack of success in using multiple drugs2 to aggressively intervene in the health management of people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, following them for five years to see if these highly-promoted and dispensed Big Pharma remedies actually do anything besides change numbers. The authors reported a trivial reduction in cardiovascular events and deaths, compared to regular treatment. In other words, the extremely high cost of numerous drugs to aggressively manage numbers is of no health benefit. I have previously reported that such drug interventions have increased mortality and had to be stopped (ACCORD trial –Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes).
This lack of improvement due to excessive drugging of type 2 diabetic patients was echoed in another study published in the June 22nd issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association3. This study found that despite the use of large amounts of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol medications over the past 20 years for type 2 diabetes patients, the rate of kidney disease was rapidly increasing. Kidney disease is the precursor event to cardiovascular disease and mortality. This is the second major medical journal in the past week essentially saying that current type 2 diabetic treatments—at great cost to the health care system—do not work in terms of improving quality of health, reversing the disease, preventing the diseases that follow, or reducing mortality.
In other words, the United States in particular and the world in general, has a massive and costly health epidemic on its hands. Big Pharma’s number-manipulating drugs don’t fix anything and don’t do much of anything – except cost a lot of money.
Several weeks earlier on June 9th a different type of article was published, one you can rest assured Big Pharma would like none of its pill-taking customers to hear about. Yes, it is a small human study – but it carries a very large message4. Eleven 50-year-old adults with type 2 diabetes went on a 600 calorie-per-day diet for 8 weeks, consuming liquid meals and non-starchy vegetables. After 1 week on the diet their blood glucose levels returned to normal. Triglycerides plummeted 30% in the first week and continued trending downward until reaching normal levels by week 8. After 8 weeks their A1C scores were normal and imaging of their liver and pancreas found that excessive fat was gone. In other words, all of them were free of type 2 diabetes.
The participants then returned to their more normal calorie consumption and were follow-up tested at 12 weeks. Seven of them remained free of all signs of type 2 diabetes, three had relapsed, and one was not available for testing.
It is not a mystery that the great majority of individuals with type 2 diabetes developed the problem through self-infliction. As long as your body can efficiently keep making new fat cells and storing calories in them then you don’t become diabetic – which is why not all overweight people have type 2 diabetes. However, there comes a point when fat cells lose their fitness5 and simply give up. The excessive intake of calories can no longer be stored efficiently in white adipose tissue. In fact, white adipose tissue gets quite inflamed and damaged. Blood sugar rises and fat piles up in all the wrong places (liver, pancreas, heart, arteries, muscles, etc.). Big Pharma comes along and gives drugs to manipulate numbers while fixing almost nothing.
Imagine the audacity of researchers conducting a study directed at the obvious source of the problem: being poisoned by eating excess food. Would the opposite cure the problem? Rather amazingly, it sure got people on a healthier path. Not eating much certainly doesn’t cost more – if anything it costs less.
I am not typically a fan of starvation diets, as they induce excessively low leptin that usually makes people eat more later and gain all their weight back. However, I am even less in favor of Big Pharma fraudulently poisoning millions of Americans for extreme profit and little to show for it.
A 600 calorie diet would be too hard for people with heart rhythm problems, atrial fibrillation, or advanced cardiovascular disease to follow – as they will typically release excessive amounts of adrenaline from time to time to help sustain blood sugar levels. This study was done in 50-year-olds who had onset of the problem within the past four years – not in people who have had the problem for many years and may be in very poor cardio health.
Another challenge of low-calorie diets is that fat rushing out of the body tends to congest the gall bladder. Thus, people with existing gall bladder problems would not be candidates for such a diet and if symptoms started developing during such a diet it should be discontinued to work on gall bladder and liver health or adopt a rate of progress that is a bit slower and easier for the gall bladder to keep up with.
I have seen many people over the past decade free themselves of type 2 diabetes simply by following the Leptin Diet. It does take a bit longer than 8 weeks, but it is also safer and easier to do. I have outlined this plan in my recent article, The Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #1 – Overview and Basic Needs.
In light of the powerful results of this new study, I must say that for some people stuck in the type 2 diabetes rut, it is an option. The researchers recommend medical supervision if anyone wants to try it. It would be extremely important to stick to the Leptin Diet following such an 8-week diet, including consistent exercise, so as to prevent a leptin-related relapse once the low-calorie diet is completed.
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