Dear Dr. Bernstein,
I recently sent the following e-mail to Balance, the magazine of Diabetes UK, the largest Diabetes Charity here. It is in response to an article they published characterizing lo-carb diets as “fad diets” which they do not recommend and a letter they published from Jim Farquharson who challenged their views based on his own experience with lo-carb treatment from an NHS Trust in Aberdeen (Scotland). I copied my e-mail to Jim who told me he had received over 70 e-mails from readers of Balance asking for details of his treatment. It will be interesting to see if they publish my e-mail & if further debate can be stimulated.
I want to add my voice to those advocating a low carbohydrate diet in the control of diabetes and indeed as a healthy diet for non-diabetics. Like Mr. Jim Farquharson (your letters March April 2001), I had throughout my life tried various diets which were based on calorie control, low fat intake (and consequently high carbohydrate intake) and exercise. These resulted in weight fluctuations & a steadily rising trend in weight. Two years ago (then aged 54), I developed an infection of the urinary tract. This was treated with antibiotics but the condition deteriorated further. I decided to have a full medical which revealed a fasting blood glucose of 12.6 mmol/l. My doctor, at the time (not an NHS doctor) stated that this was NOT a diabetic reading when I queried this apparently out of range result. Unconvinced, I made further enquiries of work colleagues who were diabetics as to diabetic glucose readings and then insisted that I be re-tested. This re-test confirmed the original test results.
I changed my doctor to a local NHS GP (I had recently moved anyway) and was prescribed gliblenclamide tablets and a high carbohydrate, low fat diet. My weight at the time was 95 kgs, height 1.81 m, waist 39″, blood pressure 140/80, total cholesterol was 6.6 with triglycerides at 3.2. Although I was treated well by the NHS considering the pressures they are under, my faith in the medical profession had been shaken and I decided to read as much as possible about diabetes. This quest took me to a book called Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. Dr. Bernstein, who is himself a Type I diabetic, treats his patients with a low carbohydrate diet, muscle building exercise, and where necessary selective use of insulin. I tried the dietary changes Dr. Bernstein advocates and found that my blood glucose control improved considerably. I decided to become his patient and in January 2000 visited Dr. Bernstein in New York state.
His initial examination lasts three complete days and was the most thorough I have experienced. The follow-up consultations are by fax and telephone. The results today speak for themselves:
HBA1c reading 4.7%
Blood Glucose readings between 4 and 6.6
Weight 80 kgs (waist 33″)
Blood Pressure 120/70 /-
Total Cholesterol 5.9
I have now stopped taking all the drugs previously prescribed.
I know of two other patients of Dr. Bernstein in the U.K. and one in Australia, all speak well of their treatment. I have given Dr. Bernstein’s book to other diabetics I know, some try his methods, some don’t. Here is a note from a work colleague who did:
Many thanks for the book by Dr. Bernstein. It has quite honestly changed my way of life. Following the “normal” diabetic rules of lots of carbohydrates, my sugar levels fluctuated dramatically. Now they are fairly constant plus a weight loss to date of 15 kgs. Thanks again for your guidance and support.
My wife Hilary who is not diabetic but follows a similar diet and exercise regime to my own has lost 15 kgs in weight and improved her blood pressure and cholesterol readings. I question whether there is any evidence that a low fat, high
carbohydrate diet works in the control of diabetes, or the control and maintenance of a healthy weight. The fact that the number of people who are overweight or suffering from obesity has rocketed during the time that low fat/high carbohydrate diets have been in fashion suggest the opposite is true. I urge anyone interested in learning more about diabetes and low carbohydrate diets should read the following books, both of which are available on Amazon.co.uk:
Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution by Richard K. Bernstein, MD
The Schwarzbein Principle by Diana Schwarzbein, MD and Nancy Deville
Stuart Williams, London