There are two big lies in treatment of type 2 diabetes. They stem from a lack of understanding about the underlying causes (aetiology) of diabetes. Once we understand the aetiology, we are able to reverse and cure it.
Lie #1 – Type 2 diabetes is an incurable, chronic and progressive disease
This is what we tell patients – they will have diabetes for the rest of their lives, and just get used to it. Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, only managed. But it is simply not true and thus a lie. And it is quite simple to prove this.
Start first with the case of bariatric surgery. There are several different types of ‘stomach stapling’ surgeries, and all cures are both rapid and long-lived. While I generally don’t send patients for this surgery, the point is that diabetes is curable – even if you have had it for 20 years. It can be cured within 2 weeks and that cure can last for years.
Secondly, fasting is another method of treating type two diabetes. In the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1916, Joslin, one of the most famous diabetologists in history, wrote that “temporary periods of under-nutrition are helpful in the treatment of diabetes”, and will “probably be acknowledge by all after these two years of experience with fasting.” Food rationing during world war periods shows that type 2 diabetes and mortality go down substantially.
Third, people who have lost substantial amounts of weight with very low-carb diets also reverse their type 2 diabetes. Suppose somebody were to say to you, “I lost 50 pounds and my diabetes went away”. Would you think they are lying? Or, would you instead simply accept that truth that the weight loss somehow ‘cured’ them of diabetes.
In all three cases, ‘stomach stapling’, fasting and very low carb diets, we have real-life examples of cases where type 2 diabetes was reversed or ‘cured’. That’s funny. Authorities tell us there is no cure. The American Diabetes Association website, for example, states that “Fact: for most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease”. Sadly, it was just a lie.
By spreading these lies, patients are given a sense of learned helplessness. They are being told that they are sick and not to even try to get better, because it is hopeless.
There are also multiple therapies to do not lead to a cure. This includes, insulin, drugs and a low-fat diet. These have all been used in the conventional treatment of type 2 diabetes. Does anybody ever say, “I started pills for diabetes and now I’m all better and have stopped them all”? No. This is virtually unheard of. So, these treatments do not lead to a cure.
You’ll never guess which path we choose – the cure or the no cure side?
We have continued to treat diabetics with drugs. Why?
We have continued to pour millions of dollars in research, and millions of dollars in public education, diabetes education centres. Why?
Lie # 2 – Treating blood sugars is the goal of type 2 diabetes therapy.
Once diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, patients are often given medications that help reduce blood sugars. This is done in the hope of reducing complications of the disease, including blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, nerve damage, strokes, and amputations among others. There is a belief that these complications are caused by the high blood sugars.
Like all great lies, it certainly appears reasonable. However, there is a problem with this theory. It just isn’t true. We have known with virtual certainty since 2008 that lowering blood sugars is completely ineffective at reducing complications of diabetes. In head to head studies of conventional versus aggressive treatment of blood sugars, there was simply no benefit.
The ACCORD STUDY (Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Study Group) published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, was stopped early because of increased risk of deaths in patients treated aggressively.
Another very large, expensive trial, The ADVANCE-ON study in the NEJM in 2014 with extended 7-year follow-up showed exactly this lack of benefit of blood sugar control.
But why is there no benefit?
Here’s the problem. Type 2 diabetes is essentially a disease of too much insulin resistance (IR). It is this excessively high IR that causes high blood sugars. In essence, the high blood sugar is the symptom of the disease, not the disease itself. Yet, our conventional drug therapies and low-fat diet do not address the IR at all.
The cause of disease is too much IR. Yet we treat the high blood sugars. We treat the symptom of the disease, but not the actual disease.
Imagine an analogous case. Suppose we are treating a severe, life-threatening bacterial infection (cause). This infection causes a fever (symptom). Instead of treating the cause with antibiotics, we treat the symptom of fever with acetaminophen. Pretty stupid, right?
That’s almost exactly what we do in type 2 diabetes. The cause of the disease (high insulin resistance) is ignored while we busy ourselves with treating the symptom. That is why patients don’t get better. Because the diabetes is not being treated, even as the bloods sugars are being treated.
A cure for type 2 diabetes
So, if we if we want to move towards a cure for diabetes, we need to understand two things. One – this is a curable dietary disease. Two – lowering blood sugars is irrelevant. We need to lower insulin resistance.
What causes insulin resistance? It turns out that substantial evidence points to persistently high insulin levels itself as the cause of the high IR. Our bodies respond in this manner to all hormones and drugs. Excessively high levels result in the development of resistance to those dangerously high levels as a protective mechanism.
The key player is insulin. If insulin causes high IR, then insulin causes type 2 diabetes. This means that the current treatment paradigm is idiotic. Conventional treatments that give insulin, drugs that raise insulin, and diets that raise insulin, are not making things better, they are making them worse.
In type 1 diabetes, insulin levels are low, so it makes sense to give insulin. In type 2 diabetes, however, the exact opposite situation occurs. Insulin levels are high. The treatment is not to raise insulin levels, but instead, to lower them.
You can’t treat a hyperinsulinemic state with insulin. It’s like treating alcoholism with alcohol. In the short term, giving alcohol will improve the symptoms of withdrawal. But this will not help the alcoholism, itself.
Insulin will improve the symptoms of high blood sugars by lowering them. But they won’t improve the insulin resistance. It does not make the diabetes better. Instead, insulin makes the IR worse.
In a disease such as type 2 diabetes, where insulin levels are too high, treatment must be to lower these high levels. Now, if we consider these treatments that we already know to cure diabetes – bariatric surgery, fasting, and very low carb diets – what do they have in common?
They all lower insulin.
What do current treatments that fail – insulin, drugs and low-fat diets – all have in common? They all raise insulin. Treatment with insulin will not cure patients. Instead it will kill them. In fact, diabetes associations already admit this. They say that with conventional treatment, type 2 diabetes is a chronic progressive disease. Another way to put this? With standard therapy, you are 100% guaranteed to get worse. But it does not have to be this way.
Diets that are low in added sugars and refined carbohydrates are essential because this helps limit the rise in insulin from the foods that we eat. Avoiding highly processed foods is crucial because those foods tend to raise insulin significantly. Foods high in natural fat protect against the insulin spikes. Foods rich in fibre help protect against insulin spikes.
Intermittent fasting is another time proven method of lowering insulin. It has been used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes for over a century by some of the most famous diabetes specialists in history. I have used it extensively in our Intensive Dietary Management program in Canada.
Imagine this. You can prevent diabetic nephropathy, diabetic foot ulcers, diabetic retinopathy, reduced stroke, myocardial infarction, and cancers that are complications of diabetes. You can cure our modern day scourge of diabetes. All of this can be done without drugs, surgery and cost.
It only requires knowledge and the courage to challenge conventional thought.
There are two remarkable truths to type 2 diabetes:
- Diabetes is a reversible, curable dietary disease.
- Treatment is directed at lowering both insulin and insulin resistance.
With these truths, comes an astonishing hope. Hope that type 2 diabetes is not a life sentence. Hope, as Dr. Gary Fettke expressed, that cancer is not a death sentence. With the knowledge, and the courage to face the truth, we can bring change to this world of diabetes.