Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wisdom Wednesday: When is a Diet Treatment?

This was the title of a recent interview by a couple of physicians published in the New England Medical Journal. The online version generally includes a video interview on timely topics in health care.

I thought about the question for a couple of days before I actually watched the video. Honestly, I had not come up with a good answer. Dietary recommendations are a mainstay of my practice. I frequently tell my patients that no amount of supplementation will replace a good diet. So I decided that diet is always treatment, and maybe the most important aspect of treatment. At least, in the long run.

Obviously, that is not the opinion of the physicians in the interview. They decided that a protein-sparring fast qualified as medical treatment. This short-term diet is rather radical by medical standards. But the results are pretty amazing.

The diet limits the patient to eating just fruits and vegetables with a 20 gram supplement of powdered protein daily. Typically, this diet is used to treat type II diabetics that are no longer responding to insulin.
They report that dramatically high glucose levels drop rapidly over the course of several days. The patients have to reduce or stop their insulin injections and often can return to metformin and/or glyburide to control blood glucose levels.

Their “medical treatment” is nothing more than a strict vegetarian diet (no refined carbohydrates) with a protein shake once a day.

Use of the protein-sparring fast is not widespread. Patients returning to their normal diets invariably end up back on insulin. But in the short term their diabetes is reversed and their medication is reduced.

What would happen if all type II diabetics were placed on a protein-sparring fast, then converted to the Mediterranean Diet or Paleo? What about the pre-diabetics that make up half of our U.S. population?

The truth is type II diabetes is all about diet. It is totally preventable and often curable. The sooner you start, the easier the correction.

For most of my patients, adopting a healthier diet – like Paleo or Mediterranean – along with supplements like sesame seed oil, berberine, and Gymnema will readily reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes.

However, some of my hard-core diabetics might benefit from the “kick-start” provided by a protein-sparring fast. Of course compliance will be an issue. If they could adopt a healthy lifestyle they wouldn’t be diabetic to begin with.

The Bottom Line:
Can you, will you adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle or will you require medical treatment?

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