In a nation where more than 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes, daily medication has become a way of life. The problem: Side effects that can include weight gain, depression and dizziness. One physician, Dr. Eric Westman, however, is becoming known for his work in turning the tide by putting his patients on high fat, low carb diets that, in many cases, can reverse the disease, reported Charisma News on Feb. 14.
The statistics on the increase in diabetes are startling: Compared to 50 years ago, 10 times as many Americans have diabetes, and 90 to 95 percent of all cases concern type 2 diabetes. That's the bad news.
The good news: A new program is teaching patients how to use the power of the right diet to reverse their condition, resulting in the ability to stop medications. The key: An extremely low carb, high fat diet administered by Dr. Westman, famed for his work in the field at Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.
His diet-only focus means that patients must comply fully with his approach. But those who have tried it have become believers.
Take Janet Huffstetler, who felt diabetes was ruining her life. Then she changed her diet.
"I will tell you I have never felt so good," she said. "I think having my body free of sugar and carbs and processed chemicals has made such a difference in how I approach everything. I am just an entirely different person."
She recalls a family member who "ended up on full dialysis and blind," she recalled. "He also had coronary bypass surgery. They had started talking about amputation, but he died."
And Westman says that in many cases, such tragic endings can be circumvented with diet.
"Diabetes and obesity is complicated,” noted Westman, co-author of "New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great" (click for details).
“There are lots of factors that are involved, but most experts agree that it’s the foods and the beverages that people eat that are the major cause for diabetes and obesity in the U.S., and so that should be the major focus of treatment.”
Rather than use medicine to treat the sugar that his patient consumes, he instructs them to eliminate their sugar intake.
"I took someone off 180 units of insulin for their diabetes in two days. And this is not unusual," he told CBN News recently.
Westman said his program is extremely successful for the patients who follow his instructions precisely.
Susan Hollowell did - and went from spending $400 a month on diabetes drugs down to zero.
"I was insulin-dependent, five injections a day," she recalled.
"The third day of my diet my blood sugar dropped to 150 and I asked Dr. Westman, 'What should I do about my insulin?' I didn't want to go over. And he said, 'Get off of it.'"
Westman's diet eliminates sugar and drastically restricts starches such as bread, pasta and rice. It's a high protein, high fat diet that permits unsaturated kind like olive oil and avocados as well as saturated fat like coconut oil and butter. He's also written a guide to ketogenic low carb diets: "A Low Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Manual: No Sugar, No Starch Diet" (click for details).
In his role as director of Duke's Lifestyle Medicine Program, Dr. Westman also recently conducted a a six-month comparison of low-carb diets with other researchers.
The diet that encourages eating carbohydrates with the lowest-possible rating on the glycemic index leads to greater improvement in blood sugar control, according to Duke University Medical Center researchers.
Patients who followed the no-glycemic diet experienced more frequent reductions, and in some cases elimination, of their need for medication to control type 2 diabetes.
"Low glycemic diets are good, but our work shows a no-glycemic diet is even better at improving blood sugar control," he says.
We found you can get a three-fold improvement in type 2 diabetes as evidenced by a standard test of the amount of sugar in the blood. That's an important distinction because as a physician who is faced with the choice of drugs or diet, I want a strong diet that's shown to improve type 2 diabetes and minimize medication use.
In addition to using this approach for diabetes, Westman is among those doctors using it for high cholesterol. Low-carbohydrate weight loss diets are more successful than low-fat diets in improving HDL cholesterol levels long term, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
During the two-year study, dieters followed either low carb or low fat plans. Although both groups lost weight, the low-carbohydrate dieters had significantly increased HDL, or "good," cholesterol levels compared to low-fat dieters. Westman has also co-authored a book about this use of low-carb diets: "Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers."