Leslie's Story: Diabetes -- We're Doing It Wrong

My father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in December. Of course, he wouldn’t listen to my (good) advice back when he was only pre-diabetic. I’m a registered dietician, I could have been really helpful. It took an official diagnosis of diabetes to open his ears. Must have been that Metformin he was prescribed! 

I visited my parents at Christmas and promptly implemented a real food, low-carbohydrate diet. To say “it’s working” would be an understatement. Check out these results -- in less than three months of eating real food, here is how his numbers changed:

  • Fasting blood glucose fell from 292 mg/dL to 133 mg/dL. Normal is below 100 mg/dL.
  • Hemoglobin A1c fell from 12% down to 6.6%. Normal is below 5.7%.
  • Total cholesterol fell from 263 mg/dL to 171 mg/dL. Normal is below 200 mg/dL.
  • Triglycerides fell from 791 mg/dL to 144 mg/dL. Normal is below 150 mg/dL.
  • HDL cholesterol rose from 34 mg/dL to 50 mg/dL. This is the type of cholesterol that’s considered protective against heart disease. The more the merrier!
  • LDL cholesterol was incalculable in December due to his extremely high triglycerides, but we can assume it was high since his total cholesterol was high and his HDL cholesterol was low. In March it was 92 mg/dL. Below 100 mg/dL is optimal.
  • He lost 5 pounds.
  • After years of hypertension, his blood pressure has normalized.

In less than three months, he has completely reversed hypertension and dyslipidemia and is actively reversing diabetes at an impressive rate.

Subjectively, he reports his golf game has improved and my mother reports he’s far less grouchy. It’s a win-win-win. 

We seem to have forgotten that type 2 diabetes is induced by diet. It’s a carbohydrate intolerance, plain and simple. The commonsense approach to managing it is to restrict dietary carbohydrate. Well-controlled diabetes isn’t good enough for my father when diabetes-free is an option. My intention for him is that by his next follow-up, he will have completely reversed the disease with a low-carbohydrate, real food diet and his medications will be discontinued. At that point, we’ll liberalize his diet a bit to include -- get this -- legumes and maybe, occasionally, some whole grains. Wild, I know.

Outcomes like this are within the reach of most people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes. And while not everyone has a dietician for a daughter, everyone can eat real food, increase their energy, and stop being so grouchy to mom. Suppers is a good place to do the work.

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