Diabetes is out of control in the United States and is reaching epidemic proportions. When I first researched this topic in 1981, only ten million people were affected by diabetes. At the current rate of increase, the number of diabetics in the U.S. will be between one-fifth and one-third of all adults by 2050 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, people diagnosed with diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease, the agency reports. The total cost of diabetes in the United States is an estimated $174 billion annually, which is close to what we are spending to fight the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined. In comparison, the health care costs to treat diabetes are more expensive than the $150 billion in damages caused by Hurricane Katrina.
- Approximately half of heart attack victims have diabetes.
- Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness.
- Seventeen percent of all new cases of blindness are diabetic.
- Three out of four strokes are from diabetes.
- Four out of five limbs that have to be amputated due to gangrene belong to diabetics.
- If you look at the risk factors, total deaths are three times as high for diabetics than non-diabetics.
- Twenty six million people in the U.S. now have diabetes.
If we look in the medical dictionary, we find the following definition of diabetes,
“Diabetes means that the body does not have enough insulin. It’s characterized by failure of body tissues to burn carbohydrates in a normal way.”
This concept first came about in the 1920′s with Dr. Bantine Best who first used insulin to save the lives of juvenile diabetics. Physicians today are taught that insulin deficiency is the primary cause of diabetes. Yet, Drs. Burson and Yao received the Noble Prize for showing that mild and even severe diabetics produced as much or even more insulin than a normal person.
So if diabetics have all the insulin that they need what’s the problem?
From a medical research perspective, diabetes seems to be caused by fats not sugars.
Supporting Research Findings
Dr. James Anderson tested a healthy group of 20 year olds by giving them different diets. One diet consisted of 5% total calories being from fat and about 80% from carbohydrates. Another diet was 65% total calories of fat and about 20% carbohydrates. The interesting part about these diets is that the carbohydrate was from table sugar. If 80% of your total calories in carbohydrates is table sugar, that means that you’re eating one pound of sugar a day.
At the end of two weeks, Dr. Anderson gave the test subjects glucose tolerance tests. The peak glucose value reached of the young men on the very low fat, high carbohydrate diet was only 130. The test subjects would have to get up to 170 before they were in the diabetic range. Dr. Anderson continued that study for another nine weeks. Again, at the end of the eleven weeks, he gave the test subjects another glucose tolerance test. The test subjects again tested perfectly normal. If the test subjects continued this diet of a pound of sugar a day, their triglycerides would rise over the course of a few years.
In stark contrast, the group of test subjects on a high fat diet took two weeks to test diabetic. After adding fatty foods up to a 65% high fat diet from olive oil, butter, mayonnaise, egg yolk, and cheese, every test subject became diabetic. Dr. Anderson’s findings are extremely important. They prove that sugar is not the cause of diabetes. Fat in the diet is the main variable in causing diabetes.
Damage Done by Excessive Fats
A damaged liver from cirrhosis, toxemia of the liver, insufficient circulation to the liver, as well as blockage of the bile ducts, can all lead to the liver’s inability to handle fats. This allows free fatty acids to elevate as much as 54% higher than in morning blood test so that serum insulin could become de-sensitive.
Fats act like a barrier. It protects the glucose. No matter how much insulin you have in your blood, it cannot possibly use up the glucose. Fat acts as a barrier that shields the glucose so the insulin can’t get to it. The mystery is that no matter how much insulin you have in your blood if you have fat in your blood you are going to test diabetic.
A variety of illnesses can elevate free fatty acids for as long as 90 days. Why is it that when your ill, free fatty acids increase? This is the body’s way of providing some extra fuel. In primitive times during illness, one would not feel well enough to gather food. You would crawl into a cave and your body would take care of you. The body gave you fat from your fat reserves to give you enough fuel until you became well. So, you can live off your fat reserves for a long time. Many people today have enough supplied to last them for several weeks. Today, this primitive instinct is counterbalanced. When someone becomes ill, they are fed everyday. The free fatty acids have no further use. They are left to just pile up in the blood. When the fatty acids pile up, they elevate and get so high it’s just as if you’ve eaten a high fat meal. Therefore, individuals who have develped an illness tend to develop a glucose tolerance curve that’s diabetic.
For example, many children go to the doctor once their fever has ended to make sure that they are all right. When they get their urine sampled, the child typically has sugar in the urine. A blood sample will show the same result. If the doctor waits 30-90 days to run the tests, the child would be normal. Instead, they are immediately put on insulin. Many juvenile diabetics have evolved from going to a physical examination right after an illness.
Another important question to ask is if the American high fat diet (cheese 72% fat, butter 82% fat, margarine and corn oil 100% fat, sirloin steak 77% fat, peanut butter 75% fat) is so bad, then why doesn’t everyone test diabetic? If anyone had a glucose tolerance test done in the evening when there is a natural rise of free fatty acids (30%-50% higher) on top of already existing high fat levels form the American diet, they would test diabetic.
This new information has recently influenced the American Diabetic Association to change from a high fat 35% low carbohydrate 40% diet, to recommend a lower fat 20%, 60% carbohydrate diet.
When Dr. Kelly West testified at the Senate hearings on Nutrition, he said,
“I would estimate that up to 2.5 million (62%) of the 4 million known adult diabetics who now take drugs, could be safely freed from them entirely using this high complex carbohydrate, low fat diet.”
(McGovern Hearing. Part I, p.132.)
The future of diabetes treatment can be successful with the identified cause of excess fat being reduced. As we have seen, adult onset diabetics do not lack insulin. Using drugs to increase insulin levels to make up for desensitized insulin would not be getting to the real culprit, fat. The information is available now. As health educators, we can educate the public about the success with special diet therapy to reduce diabetic deaths in the United States. Fortunately, we have the ability to make a dramatic change in medical costs associated with treating diabetes and ultimately, the future health and wellness of the citizens of this nation.