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Diabetes Prevention: Native Roots Article

Diabetes Prevention: What you should know is what the ADA isn't teaching

Reprinted from I will reprint both parts when both are available.

"Diabetes is one of the easiest of 'incurable' diseases to cure, and even easier to prevent." Udo Erasmus

By Liz Gray

[Caution: It is not recommended that the readers follow the guidelines in this article without supervision of a healthcare practitioner. The guidelines in this article will lower the sugar level in the bloodstream, therefore a doctor should balance the insulin intake as sugar levels change.]

David, who is half Creek and half Hopi, came back from the clinic with bad news, his blood sugar level was over 200, more than what it should be. David was told he was a Type II Diabetic and needed to follow the American Diabetes Association's recommended diet for Diabetes. He went to the classes at his local clinic and followed their diet to a "T". But what happened next shocked David and greatly concerned his doctor. His blood sugar level shot up to 445.

David was becoming another American Indian statistic for Diabetes.

The doctor accused him of not following the ADA guidelines for his diet and told him to prepare for insulin therapy. But David knew he followed the diet correctly and began to think it was hopeless, that Diabetes was inevitable because of his Indian heritage.

This story is all too common in Indian country. American Indians have the highest percentage of diabetes than any race in America and the Pima Indians of Arizona are at the top with an astonishing 50% of adults having the disease.

But what if David could make a 180 degree turn for the better without Insulin? What if it was his diet under the ADA guidelines that contributed to his high sugar levels?

David decided to change his food choices once again and followed a different theory. His blood sugar dropped to under 200 and is now at a constant 145-150, which is close to normal. Furthermore, David does not need insulin therapy.

With a little amount of basic scientific knowledge, anyone can determine which foods contain "hidden sugars". Carbohydrates are "energy" which the body uses to fuel itself. Athletes know this and have used this concept to prepare for sports events by eating plenty of rice, pasta, potatoes and "simple carbohydrates" such as fruits. Carbohydrates are chains of sugar molecules. They are either simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are defined as one to two connected sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are three or more connected sugar molecules.

Carbohydrates are found in whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, some milk products, breads and cereals, pasta and, of course, sweets. No matter what form they come in, the body breaks it down to the same thing: one-sugar molecules called glucose (sugar in the blood). And if your body doesn't use this Energy, it is turned to fat. This is why we fatten our livestock with corn, wheat, oats, etc.

Counting the Energy levels in foods by measuring its "Calories" is not as accurate as counting carbohydrates, but because the mainstream media and food production companies use it on their labels, it is the most popular.

Over 50 years ago scientists created the convention that a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. [Scientists would break the food chemical bonds completely [burn the food], and then measure the heat generated from the burning. For example, a seven-ounce piece of chicken was broken down with all proteins and fats being turned into water, carbon dioxide and a few other simple molecules.]

But the "burning calories" theory is flawed.

Because the calorie measure took place in a test tube, scientists concluded that fat is twice as fattening as proteins and carbohydrates. But, unlike with carbohydrates, the body does not break down meat and fat for energy production. Therefore the "calorie" measurement does not compare to what the body actually does with sugar. It uses proteins and fats as building materials (without completely breaking them down as if "burning") to use to build cells, enzymes, hormones, etc., leaving very little to be stored as fat.

Next to regular table sugar and fruits, the foods that creates sugar in the blood stream at the highest and fastest rate are starchy vegetables, especially those low in fiber such as potatoes and yams. Starch is one molecule away from being sugar but those vegetables with a high content of fiber are digested slowly which slows down the production of sugar in the blood. This is why diabetics should count carbohydrates in low-fiber vegetables to help measure what amount of "sugars" they are eating. [Caution: eliminating all carbohydrates from the diet can cause the insulin levels to be too low.]

Numerous studies throughout the scientific community have repeatedly supported the theory that lowering carbohydrates and raising protein intake lowers blood sugar. One of the studies is even on the ADA website, titled "Does diet Play a Role in Etiology of Type 2 Diabetes? Fats verses Carbohydrates": It references a study which proves certain fats in the diet reduces the risk of diabetes and insulin insensitivity. In the study, the type of fat consumed is likely more important than the amount consumed. A study by Salmeron, et al. looked at polyunsaturated fat intake as a predictor of diabetes. Those with an intake of 4.8% of calories from polyunsaturated fat had a risk reduction of 25% compared with those with an intake of 2.9%. The article also refers to a recent multi-center study headed by Riccardi showed that with a diet high in monounsaturated fat, insulin sensitivity improved; high saturated fat, insulin sensitivity decreased.

Although the ADA has a disclaimer stating they are not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations but rather are there for "education and entertaining purposes", they are looked to for advice by many physicians, as well as, health service providers across the country as the leading source for diabetes awareness and its care. Not only are they the largest non-profit organization for Diabetes awareness, they are the largest of all non-profit organizations in America.

David's physician followed the ADA guidelines and told him to eat a high-carbohydrate, low fat diet. It was suggested he eat less meat, and more starches and more vegetables. ADA's current Pyramid of Food suggests diabetics eat 6 or more servings a day of grains, beans and "plenty of starchy vegetables" which is the largest food group in the pyramid.

David followed this guideline and soon his blood-sugar levels went through the roof.

Throughout America are a few physicians who are seeking answers to better ways of helping diabetics control their blood sugar level. Some are experimenting on their own for better ways to help their patients. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., author of the book The Schwarzbein Principle is one of them.

In her medical training, she was taught this same theory. "I believed what my professors said," she noted. In 1990, after finishing nine years of medical training at the University of Southern California in endocrinology and metabolism, she accepted a position at a prestigious medical clinic in Santa Barbara, California. All her new patients were type II diabetics. "I heard many stories of patients going for yearly physical exams and being diagnosed with diabetes incidentally," said Schwarzbein. "These newly diagnosed diabetics were put on the American Diabetes Association dietů only to see their conditions worsen."

Mark Overbay, a representative from the American Diabetes Association told Native Times that the ADA guidelines are based on the most recent scientific studies and are designed to be, what they consider, the safest diet for diabetics.

Schwarzbein came to the same conclusion that Diabetes was a genetic problem. "It was thought that once a person developed diabetes, it could not be reversed. Part of the 'standard of care' was to keep diabetics' blood sugar under control to enable them to live relatively normal lives." she added. She observed her patients begin a "vicious cycle" of high blood-sugar, insulin injections, weight gain, and their cholesterol levels getting more unhealthy. "After listening to their stories I thought, My God, we are making diabetics worse!"

Schwarzbein, and her patients did their own study. She soon realized it was the "cheaters" who were more healthy. Those who ate real mayonnaise, real cheese, real eggs and steak. Those who "cheated" the most were those who had the biggest improvements.

What causes diabetes is simple, too much sugar is in the blood-stream because the body has lost its ability to convert excess sugar in to fat. The Insulin's job is to get the sugar out of the blood-stream and put it in to cells by storing it as fat. Some people who eat too much sugar loose this ability and the excess sugar piles up in the blood-stream, causing Type II Diabetes.

Good Fats, Bad Fats

There are no long term studies showing that low-fat diets are healthy, said Schwarzbein. But numerous studies conclude that certain fats are necessary to maintain good health. And the real culprit to many diseases is high insulin levels. "There are studies spanning three decades relating high insulin levels and heart disease, high insulin levels and hypertension, high insulin levels and excessive body-fat gain and other problems."

Udo Erasmus, author of the book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill agrees. "The fact is that some fats are absolutely required for health, while others are detrimental," said Erasmus. "When the lacking nutrients are returned, deficiency symptoms are reversed and the deficiency disease [including diabetes] is cured."

Erasmus has credentials which include graduate studies in genetics and biochemistry and a PhD in Nutrition. After being poisoned by the careless industrial application of pesticides on a job he held for three years, and knowing the poisons were carcinogenic and that cancer often involves fats, he dedicated his life "literally" to the study of fats and oils.

According to Erasmus, this lack of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) is, in part, what causes diabetes. "EFAs given to diabetics have an insulin-sparing effect, indicting that the effectiveness of insulin depends on them," Erasmus told Native Times. "In fact, dietary Omega 3 fatty acids decrease the amount of insulin needed by diabetics." He explains in his book that Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are required for insulin function. These fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity and work against insulin resistance.

NOTE: to avoid low blood sugar, insulin requirement should be monitored closely and injections decreased as Omega 3 supplementation decreases the need for injected insulin.

Omega 3's are found in flax, canola, soy bean, walnut, and dark-green leaves. Flax seed is the richest source containing about 50% of its fatty acids as LNA (alpha-linolenic acid). Omega 6 comes from sunflower and sesame seeds.

Erasmus created a fresh oil combination which contains all the essential fatty acids necessary for good health. Information on this oil, Udo's Choice, can be found on the internet at: For those who are unable to obtain his refrigerated oil blend from health-food stores, he recommends a combination of 3 tablespoons of Flax oil and 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil a day to be used in salads, poured over vegetables, mixed in juice, or eaten with bread, but not overheated in cooking processes. These oils can be purchased at most health food stores. EFA's are required for insulin function and work well against insulin resistance but only if there is not an overload of carbohydrates in the diet.

Unfortunately, cooking oils for sale on grocery store shelves have been stripped of those EFA nutrients. Manufacturers choose to strip the oils to lengthen shelf life and the only oil with its "good fats" left intact for sale in the common grocery store is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Obtaining oils in their natural state can be obtained by eating raw nuts and seeds, such as almonds, grape seeds, hickory nuts, peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, walnuts and wheat germ. Omega 3's are also found in cold water fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines.

Although America has been taught to fear high cholesterol numbers, studies, including one at the University of Illinois show that eating more protein lowers overall triglycerides (fat in the blood) and slightly raises HDL (which a good fat).

"We may have fewer people dying from heart disease, but that's only because our medical recovery is better," said Donald Layman, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois. "We are also looking at an approaching onslaught of Type 2 diabetes. I think we have a very good reason to re-evaluate where we are at nutritionally."

Statistically, there are just as many people having and dying of heart attacks with cholesterol levels below 200 as there are with total cholesterol above 200, says Schwarzbein. The problem with cholesterol counting is that it groups the bad cholesterol with the good.

Schwarzbein's book, The Schwarzbein Principle, gives five components to a healthy life which includes lowering stress, healthy eating, hormonal therapy if needed, exercise and tapering off chemicals.

David is currently following the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet by eating plenty of green vegetables but staying away from starches such as potatoes. He eats eggs, hard cheeses, all meats that are not fried, cold-water fish, low-carb salad dressings and mayonnaise, raw nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pecans. He also avoids too much cold cereals, breads, and pastas. David says he "feels great", his sugar levels are normal, and he's lost 18 pounds. David currently works at the Native American Times newspaper as a sales-representative.

Campaign finance reform for the healthcare industry

If so many studies, including long term ones, have flooded the medical world proving low-carb, high protein diets help diabetics, questions arise as to why the ADA is not making changes to follow these extraordinary success rates.

Dr.Udo Erasmas has a belief that is shocking. "It's a business." said Erasmus. "Following this diet, and eating healthy fats would cause them to lose many clients. This 'low-fat' craze is also good for cereal companies."

Dr. Elizabeth Jane Harris, president of agrees. "I personally feel that it is a matter of politics and corporate America," said Harris. "Pharmaceutical insulin has its place for the Type I Diabetic. Type II, usually adult-onset, is now seen in children. Using a carbohydrate restricted diet, many physicians are able to work with patients and either eliminate or substantially reduce with amount of insulin necessary for both types of diabetics. Therefore, why would the major pharmaceutical companies have any reason for exploration of reducing the amount of insulin, that in a disease, is one of the fastest growing epidemics?"

In 1999, the market for diabetes drugs and devices totaled $4.3 billion, having increased at a compound annual rate of 16.9% from 1995's $2.3 billion. Sales of diabetes drugs totaled $2.9 billion and accounted for 66.4% of the industry in 1999. Device sales totaled $1.5 billion in 1999, up from $1.1 billion in 1995.

Among financial supporters for studies on diabetes are, surprisingly enough, food producers. Especially those who produce cereals.

A conference in Canada was held last March covering the topics of diabetics and obesity with 150 researchers present. According to Erasmus, when they talked among each other they admitted that starches and sweets are the problem, but not one would say it in the talks they gave because half of their grants come from one of the largest cereal producers in the world. "They can't tell the truth because their grants will dry up," said Erasmus.

Large, multinational companies dominate the diabetes drug industry. Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are the two major competitors in the U.S. insulin market. Bristol-Myers Squibb dominates the oral antidiabetic market. In February 2000, Warner-Lambert accepted a buyout offer from Pfizer. In the same year, Bayer and Aventis both had single-digit shares of the market. A few companies dominate the diabetes monitoring device industry, with Becton Dickinson, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, and Roche holding the largest shares of the industry. LifeScan, a division of Johnson & Johnson, dominates the diabetes meter market and blood glucose test strip markets. Bayer is the key supplier in the glucose and urine test strip market.

All of these companies are top-level corporate sponsors for the American Diabetes Association. Also included as sponsors are food producers such as General Mills, Kraft Foods and Proctor and Gamble.

Senator John McCain, (R.) AZ who is the leading advocate for Campaign Finance Reform, states that until we get financial influence away from political decisions, this country will never be able to address the needs of the people. The same may be true for the healthcare industry. Maybe Congress should also consider taking the politics out of disease management [medical] industry and keep it from influencing scientific studies. By doing this, America may be more aware of what the true culprits are in causing today's diseases.

And those people such as David, and the millions that are like him, can literally turn the tables toward a healthier tomorrow.

Copyright, 2001, Native American Times,

1.) The Shwarzbein Principle, Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. (pp..80, 81,119,128,)
2.) Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Udo Erasmus(pp.32, 342).
5.) "Selected traditional and contemporary foods currently used by the Pima Indians", Journal of the American Dietetic Association, March 1991, Vol. 91, no. 3
6.) " Diabetes and the 'thrifty genotype': Commentary." Bulletin of the World Health Organization, August 1999 v77 i8 p692.
7.) "Nutrient intake of Pima Indian women: relationships to diabetes mellitus and gallbladder disease" The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 24: October 1971, pp.1281-1289.
8.) "Using carbohydrate counting in diabetes clinical practice." Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Aug., 1198 v98 n8 p897(9)u