The July, 2017 Scientific American Magazine featured an article about how Bariactric surgery cures diabetes. They invited comments and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without a rebuttal. Below is my comment. You can check the next issue to see if they printed it or not..
Re, Scientific American July 2017, p. 61. “Operation: Diabetes.”
There is a much, much easier way to “stop diabetes.” Most type 2 diabetics can normalize their blood sugar and reduce or eliminate their medications in 3 days with a simple change in diet. It can turn this life-threatening disease into a simple inconvenience. There will no longer be a need for dangerous and invasive surgeries that cost $30,000 a pop or any of the expensive medications with their long lists of warnings being pushed by our medical establishment. Our total health care costs would be reduced by about 30%.
It was the outdated belief in the diet/heart hypothesis (the theory that eating fat causes heart disease) that led us to fear fat. A 1977, a Senate panel, headed by George McGovern, proclaimed in their “Dietary Goals For Americans,” that all Americans should cut down on fat, especially saturated fat, with the rational that something needed to be done quickly and they could always change course if it didn’t work out. There was no consensus among scientists at the time, but louder voices won out over reason, and here we are forty years down the road, still stuck with the consequences. (Read the history in The Big Fat Surprise, by Nina Teicholz, or Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes.)
The diet/heart hypothesis was the only reason our health agencies and the ADA switched from recommending low-carb diets for diabetics, people who cannot metabolize sugar, to telling them to get most of their calories from starch, which quickly turns to sugar when ingested, and sugar, and limit all fat, especially saturated fat, as low as possible. They also told us to replace natural fats with manufactured seed and grain, oils like soy, cottonseed, corn, and canola. These easily oxidized fats did not exist for most of human history. They entered our food supply after the agricultural revolution brought grains into our diet. Wheat, for example, was not edible in his wild form and our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors had no way to farm, harvest, process, or store such a food.
Our genetic makeup has not changed enough to allow us to accommodate such a drastic change in diet. Nearly all the world’s major religions originated after humans started to congregate into communities of farmers, and all or most of them included mandatory fasts that imitated the regular feast and famine life-style of early man. This practice, while still effective for health, has largely been abandoned.
Why does gastric bypass surgery work? Over 200,000 people a year in the US are having gastric bypass procedures, or as I call them, Low Carb, The Hard Way.
What many people don’t realize is that patients are routinely put on a low-carb diet before the surgery to lose weight and reduce fatty liver disease to help them survive the operation and afterward, they are advised to avoid eating sugar and starch to prevent a painful condition called “dumping” and to avoid regaining weight. Some of the people I’ve talked to who have undergone the surgery say they were not aware that a strict low-carb diet for the rest of their lives was part of the protocol. Worse yet, they also have to limit fats to prevent other unpleasant side effects, making it impossible for them to get the nutrients they need without supplements and/or injections. Another problem they will face down the road: the elderly have more trouble maintaining weight than with obesity.
The surgeries do seem to reduce hunger, but so does the low-carb diet. It is often carb addiction that leads to overeating and, as with any addiction, avoidance is the best treatment. Simply cutting out sugar and starch effectively eliminates the cravings and the diet is so satiating that people eat fewer calories naturally.
See for yourself: Pick up a (usually free) glucose meter and some test strips and check your meter after eating a food. If it spikes your blood sugar, don’t eat that again. You should wind up with a diet that looks a lot like mine.
I have eaten a diet high in natural fats, including butter, coconut oil, lard, extra-virgin olive oil, steak, eggs, cheese, and even bacon, for 17 years. I recently discovered that I had a gene mutation that greatly increased my risk of heart disease and stroke. I visited a cardiologist to see if I had any signs of disease in my heart or arteries. He was obviously surprised when he saw the sonogram. He said my heart was, “Beautiful!” and pointed out its thin, flexible walls, certainly not what he expected to see in a woman in her 70s. He said my risk of having a heart-attack or stroke was zero.
I doubt that we know enough to design a better human being. Wouldn’t it be easier to correct our diet to suit the bodies we have than to alter our anatomy to fit the diet?
Judy Barnes Baker, 2017
Writer and Cookbook Author
For a complete analysis of the benefits of a low-carb diet for diabetes, see this paper written by a group of well-respected researchers and scientists. It was published in the journal, “Nutrition,”Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2015, Pages 1-13