Diet Advice For Diabetics Falling On Deaf Ears

In Burbank, I lived in a two-story townhouse and shared walls with neighbors on either side, so I was always self-conscious about making noise.  Not anymore.  I’m in a stand-alone house now, with plenty of yard space separating me from my neighbors.

So after getting my Mac set up in my new home office earlier this week, I waited until my wife and kids were gone, then fired up iTunes and cranked the Kplisch speakers all the way to seven.  Man, I was rockin’ out.

Strange thing, though … after an hour or so, I couldn’t hear the music quite as well.  So I cranked the speakers to eight.  That helped – for awhile.  Then, once again, the sound mysteriously began to fade.  So I cranked the speakers to nine.  Two hours later, the sound faded yet again. 

Dangit!  I’ve never had problems with my Mac before, but something was obviously wrong.  I could still feel the bass from the woofer thumping in my chest – my glass of fizzy water was also rattling across my desk – but the volume just wasn’t there.

So I cranked the system to all the way to ten.  That helped, but only for awhile.  Frustrated, I called the local Mac repair guy.  However, something was also clearly screwed up with my new Comcast phone system, because I could barely hear anything on the other end.  I ended up shouting into the phone, “IF YOU CAN HEAR ME ON YOUR END, I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU MY ADDRESS!  CAN YOU PLEASE GET OVER HERE NOW?!”

Well, apparently the phone could at least transmit sound, because the repair guy showed up an hour later, by which time I was really having trouble getting full volume from my Mac.  I told the guy what was wrong:

“I’M HAVING A HARD TIME HEARING MY MUSIC!”

“Geez, Pal, stop yelling at me!”

“WHAT?!”

“STOP YELLING AT ME!!”

“OH, OKAY!  I mean … oh, okay.”

Turns out the guy is what Seinfeld would call a low-talker.  His lips moved, but hardly any sound came out.  (I’m pretty sure I didn’t agree to wear a puffy shirt during my next standup show.)  I managed to explain that my sound was fading and I wanted it nice and loud again.  He listened to the system and mumbled something.

“WHAT?!”

“Your sound system is fine.”

“WHAT?!!”

“I SAID YOUR SOUND SYSTEM IS  FINE!  I THINK MAYBE YOU’RE GOING DEAF!”

“HOLY CRAP!  WHAT THE HECK COULD CAUSE THAT?!”

“MAYBE YOUR MUSIC WAS TOO LOUD!”

“WELL, IT DOESN’T SOUND VERY LOUD TO ME!  CAN YOU FIX THE SYSTEM SO IT WILL GO TO ELEVEN?!  NO, WAIT … I WANT IT TO GO ALL THE WAY TO FIFTEEN!”

“IF I DO THAT, YOU’LL BE CALLING ME NEXT WEEK TO MAKE IT GO TO TWENTY!”

“OH, I SEE … WELL, HOW MUCH DOES THAT COST?!”

“STOP YELLING AT ME!”

Okay, none of that actually happened.  I am a tad hard of hearing thanks to some nasty childhood earaches that caused my eardrums to tear, but the Kplisch system can still knock me across the room if I turn it up to five.  But I thought about the ever-increasing volume scenario when I saw an ad online for Januvia, a Merck medication designed to control blood sugar for Type II diabetics.

Most of you probably know this already, but diabetes comes in two forms.  Type I diabetes produce little or no insulin, often from an early age.  They usually need insulin injections to keep their blood sugar normal, and to keep from wasting away – without insulin, they can’t store fat.

Type II diabetes do produce insulin.  In fact, they tend to produce lots of insulin – but it’s not enough to keep their blood sugar under control.  Why not?  Simple:  they’ve become resistant to the stuff.  When the body’s insulin receptors are constantly flooded with insulin, they become damaged and stop working … just like the cilia in your ears can become damaged by too much noise.  Worse, the beta cells in the pancreas can become overworked from constantly cranking out the insulin and burn out.

So what do drugs like Januvia do?  Here’s a quote from official website:

JANUVIA works differently from other medicines to lower blood sugar in 2 ways. It’s a once-daily prescription pill that, as part of your type 2 diabetes treatment plan, helps your body

  • Increase the insulin made in your pancreas
  • Decrease the sugar made in your liver

Okay, let’s see … you’ve become insulin-resistant from eating too many high-carb foods that jacked up your insulin.  So what’s the obvious solution?  Well, you must need a drug that horsewhips your body into producing even more insulin.  You need to crank those speakers up to eleven.  Then twelve.  Then fifteen.  Then of course you’ll suffer all the effects of elevated insulin, such as a higher cancer risk, thickening arteries, high blood pressure, excess damage to billions of cells in your body, etc. – but at least your blood sugar will be under control.

I’m not blaming Merck.  They’re a drug manufacturer, so they produced a drug.  It apparently does what it was designed to do.  But if the high priests of The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life hadn’t scared people into cutting back on fat and eating more carbohydrates, a drug like Januvia wouldn’t be necessary. 

Dr. Mike Eades once described to me how people end up on these toxic drugs:

1. Patient goes to Well-Meaning Doctor with a variety of health problems:  elevated triglycerides, weight gain, insulin resistance, etc.
2. Well-Meaning Doctor puts Patient on a lowfat diet, as he was trained to do in medical school.  This of course means the patient will be eating more carbohydrates to satisfy his appetite.
3. Patient returns for a follow-up.  The symptoms haven’t improved or have gotten even worse.
4. Well-Meaning Doctor scratches his head and says, “Well, the diet doesn’t seem to be working.  We’ll have to put you on (insert wonder drug here).” 

The Well-Meaning Doctor probably learned about the wonders of the drug at a seminar sponsored by the manufacturer, by the way.

I referred to these drugs as toxic with good reason.  Here are the possible side-effects of Januvia, once again from their own web site:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue and throat
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

Awesome!  Scratch your rash, wipe your runny nose, wheeze to your wife that you’d like another serving of mashed potatoes, spoon them over your swollen lips, and enjoy the flavor on your swollen tongue.  Swallow carefully, though, because that sore throat is getting serious.  Maybe the aspirin you take for the headache will help your throat, too.

Here’s another possible side-effect not listed on the site:  in rat studies, sitagliptin (Januvia’s chemical name) led to an increase in pancreatic cancer.  Gee, you’d almost think a body doesn’t like having a drug do a beat-down on its pancreas. 

There is, of course, a natural alternative:  stop forcing your body to smack down your blood sugar several times per day.  Then you won’t need so much insulin.  Many Type II diabetics have been able to stop taking insulin and any other blood-sugar medications simply by eliminating sugar and starch.  That’s how it worked for Dr. Jay Wortman, the medical expert behind the wonderful documentary My Big Fat Diet.

And here is the list of unpleasant side-effects from giving up sugar and starch:

  • You won’t be able to eat sugar or starch.

That sure sounds like the better treatment to me.

A note about my hearing, by the way:  Sometimes people speak to me and I don’t respond because (duh) I don’t know they’re speaking to me.  This generally leads to one of two reactions:  1) They try again, with extra volume, or 2) they decide I’m aloof and give up. 

I’m not aloof.  I like pretty much everyone I meet unless they give me a reason to change my opinion.  If you happen to see me onboard Jimmy Moore’s low-carb cruise and I don’t respond if you talk to me, try again.  But don’t crank it up to eleven … I’m a little hard of hearing, not deaf.

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21 thoughts on “Diet Advice For Diabetics Falling On Deaf Ears

  1. David

    Unfortunately, there ARE other potential side effects from cutting out starch and sugar: you now have to explain to Aunt Petunia why you will no longer eat the Snicker-Doodles that she made especially for you. That’d give me hives and a headache. And don’t even think about going to Grandma’s.

    Hadn’t thought of those. My last remaining grandparent doesn’t cook anymore, so at least I’m safe there.

    Reply
  2. Angel

    Another significant side effect of cutting carbs is carb cravings. I suffer from them constantly, even though I am much healthier now that I am eating low-carb.

    Of course, carb cravings are usually more tolerable than the drug side effects you mentioned above. 🙂

    I wrote a blog post in April about the drawbacks of a low-carb lifestyle (as a follow-up to a previous post about the benefits of low-carb). Neither post is meant to be an exhaustive study – just the stuff that has affected me the most.

    http://www.divinemind.biz/blog/2009/04/13/drawbacks-of-a-low-carb-lifestyle/
    http://www.divinemind.biz/blog/2009/04/11/the-benefits-ive-experienced-from-eating-low-carb/

    Interesting. I didn’t get any of the dizziness you described, but went through that temporary foggy-brain period. The carb cravings went away pretty quickly too. But I know some people — including in my extended family — can’t seem to ever get over the cravings and therefore have given up on a low-carb diet.

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  3. Gerard Pinzone

    Do you have any recommendations for people who are severely Insulin resistant? I’ve heard that Glucophage (Metformin) is sometimes prescribed to people whose low-carb efforts aren’t working as well as they should.

    I couldn’t hazard a guess about the Metformin, but I do know sometimes people who are very insulin resistant need to increase fat and decrease protein in the diet for a time. The reason is that protein does raise insulin a bit.

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  4. MikeC

    If you’re truly following a LC lifestyle, eating Aunt Petunia’s snickerdoodles on probably won’t do any damage. That’s assuming you don’t visit her every other day for a holiday dinner. 🙂

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  5. MikeC

    Sorry, the above comment inadvertently contained an invalid HTML tag that got removed. Here is what I meant to say, angle-brackets removed…

    If you’re truly following a LC lifestyle, eating Aunt Petunia’s snickerdoodles on [Insert Holiday Here] probably won’t do any damage. That’s assuming you don’t visit her every other day for a holiday dinner. 🙂

    Good point. I used to consider Wednesday a holiday that must be celebrated with pizza.

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  6. Debbie

    Hey, I’m going on Jimmy’s low carb cruise. I’ll have to remember to speak up when I see you. 🙂

    My dad, Type II diabetic for 20+ years, is always urging cake, pie, ice cream, Dunkin Donuts, etc. on me whenever I go visit him. Of course that’s the way he eats himself all the time! HE can’t grasp that I don’t want to. When I was on vacation in July he asked me if I had gone out for ice cream cones, or the local bakeries famous sticky buns. When I reminded him that I don’t eat that stuff anymore he just said, “But you were on vacation. I figured you’d want to have fun on vacation.”

    Maybe, but not feeling sick, shaky and bloated is pretty fun too, LOL. But not to Dad. Oh well, dad is 81 and still living in his own home. I don’t think I’ll be able to change him now, especially as he lives 550 miles away.

    People assume we still crave desserts and sweets but are being disciplined and denying ourselves. It takes no discipline whatsoever for me to avoid sweets nowadays. When I see a piece of pie, a donut, or a bowl of ice cream, I literally feel repulsed.

    My “I’m on vacation” indulgence is a pint or two of Guinness to go along with my steak, which isn’t too bad on the carbo-o-meter.

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  7. Heather

    It’s amazing what people will do for someone with MD or RD after their names without bothering to do a little homework, especially after the recommendations fail. I have a friend who said until I get a medical degree she won’t put much stock in my words — she’d rather believe that low-carb results in a vitamin B deficiency just because Dr. Dolgoff’s blog says so than believe me when I say a B deficiency would be virtually impossible on a healthy low-carb diet. I mean, I have science to back me up, but she wants nothing to do with it and has gone so far as to compare it to differing religious beliefs. Crazy talk. Dr. Dolgoff, btw, also suggests on her blog (if you want a good laugh you should read it somtime) that we should replace our children’s birthday party cupcakes with such healthy alternatives as fruit kabobs spaced with marshmallows and waffles topped with fruit and chocolate syrup. She also suggested low-fat (naturally) pita chips and guacamole and something with garbanzo beans. Bahaha — I’d LOVE to see the reaction on kids faces at being served garbazo beans at a birthday party! Anyway…I digress…

    I feel your pain. I’ve tried explaining to some friends who give me the “but my doctor said” response that I’ve read WAY more about nutrition and examined WAY more studies on the subject than any doctor does in medical school. Doesn’t make much difference. That title means everything.

    But I’m pleased to say I had a chance to visit with a longtime friend who was in Nashville on business, and when I found out she was on statins, I flooded with her evidence that they’re worse than worthless for women. She emailed me that she’s off the drug. One down, millions to go.

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  8. Dan

    Another side-effect of giving up sugar and starch: you will face the dreaded “workplace carb ambush” (WCA). The other day my boss brought in a cake to celebrate someone’s B-day, a cake that she informed us “had 3 cups of white sugar in the cake, and s cups of icing sugar in the frosting”. Everyone was gathered in the coffee room, and the boss cut everyone a piece and handed it to them. If you don’t take it, you are in trouble; if you take it and don’t eat it, you are in trouble; if you take it and eat it, like i did, it almost kills you. After lo-carbing for pretty much a year, this was a shock to my system. I felt like my body was going to reject it projectile-style for an hour; I had a few heart flutters, and broke out in a sweat. After about an hour, I felt like someone had shot me with a tranquilizer dart. I read a lot of low-carb blogs, but nobody has adressed the workplace carb ambush. You don’t want to offend people who mean well, and you know they won’t understand

    this morning, it was two boxes of fresh donuts. I snuck one to my desk, where I hope it will go unnoticed until i leave at the end of the day – when i will ceremoniously feed it to the garbage can.

    Anybody else out there have to deal with the WCA? Any good strategies?

    I told people I’m allergic to wheat, since those workplace treats nearly always contain flour. Works like a charm. No one pressures you with “Oh, come on, just one!”

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  9. Phyllis Mueller

    Wheat allergy is an effective dodge. You could also try, “My doctor told me I have to cut back on sugar.” (It may even be true! Often doctors say this, though they may also maintain whole grains are healthy, and they may not expect you will actually comply.)

    I have found that very s-l-o-w-l-y eating a bite or two and then wandering away or disposing of the plate works for me at birthday parties or weddings where making a statement doesn’t seem necessary or appropriate.

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  10. Nancy LC

    “Anybody else out there have to deal with the WCA? Any good strategies?”

    Oh yeah, I have lots of strats for you.

    Strong Backbone: Say “no thanks” and mean it. If they persist, walk away.
    Bamboo Backbone: Say “Oh that looks lovely but I’m allergic to wheat (sugar, whatever).” Or “I’m so sorry, I’m a diabetic and doctor’s orders”. What monster would ask you to defy your doctor?
    No Backbone: Take the cake, run somewhere private and dump it in the trash, cover it with papers. Preferably someone elses trash so you don’t have to smell that sickly sweet smell all day.

    I apparently have a bamboo backbone.

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  11. Dave, RN

    I just tell them that I’M offended if they make me eat it. So what’s worse, them being offended or me? I pick them, and keep my health. Of course the whole time they’re pigging out on this stuff they’re saying out loud no less, “I know I shouldn’t be eating this stuff, but…”

    One of the definitions of an alcoholic is someone who needs alcohol to have fun. So if you need certain foods to have fun, then perhaps your a “food-a-holic” and need treatment!

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  12. Gita

    On the cbc.ca website where the movie details are, there is a link to the Canadian Diabetes Association, so I clicked on it to see what the recommendations were. Appalling, absolutely appalling! Pretty much high carb at every meal, with a little bit of protein thrown in here and there (and I do mean little). Really, it is just so sad. Huge numbers of people rely on these organizations to help them out and instead the information they are given is going to make them sicker and sicker.

    Same thing for the American version. The reasoning (if you can call it that) is that since diabetics are much more prone to heart disease, they need to be on low-fat diets. It hasn’t gotten through to them yet that it’s the high blood sugar that damages arteries.

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  13. Ellen

    Gita, I agree.. I analyzed the carb content of the American Diabetes Assoc. “recommended” diet, and compared it to several studies showing the effects of carbs on blood sugar. The diet the ADA recommends clearly makes people sicker.. the analysis is here: http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/american-diabetes-association.html

    It’s really maddening because all they need do is tell people to stop eating carbs. That’s what they did before insulin was available.

    The ADA diet is killing people. That’s not their intention, but it sure is the result. It’s maddening indeed.

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  14. Vin - NaturalBias

    Diabetes is one of the most obvious examples of poor lifestyle habits causing disease. Despite this, the incidence of type 2 diabetes is still high. Your hearing analogy is a great representation of how ridiculous many of the modern approaches to treating type 2 diabetes are. While I agree that you can’t blame Merck for inventing this ridiculous drug, such companies contribute to the problem through the influence they have on doctors and even on the general public through advertising that is often misleading. I know we each have to be responsible for our own health decisions, but that doesn’t make the promotion of drugs like this any less unethical, especially when the companies producing these drugs are well aware of their flawed symptom chasing approach. Great post, even though I think Merck does deserve at least some of the blame! 🙂

    I agree that their influence over doctors is part of the problem. That being said, I don’t expect a drug company to counsel people on diet; that’s the job doctors should be doing, but I’m afraid many of them lack the knowledge to do it.

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  15. pjnoir

    Angel, the BEAUTY of eating Low Carb is how the carb cravings disappear, especially when an Atkins two week induction phase is used early. Food cravings are for carbs, when the body is weaned off carbs- cravings are gone, NOT increased.

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  16. dylan

    I wouldn’t buy stock in that company – they are going to get a class action lawsuit filed against them for killing a bunch of diabetics.

    Dave Dixon has a posting that goes into a study that had to be stopped because it was killing people using a drug similar to this – http://sparkofreason.blogspot.com/2008/02/insulin-insanity.html

    That’s a good post. I’ve read it before, but it’s worth another look. Knocking down blood sugar with ever-higher doses of insulin or any other drug is like giving a patient higher and higher doses of aspirin or ibuprofen as he continues banging his head against the wall and giving himself a headache. You may reduce the headache, but you’ll cause a lot of other damage in the process.

    Reply
  17. Steve Raymond

    Good Post on the Januvia. Knowing your writing style, I wondered where you were going with the increasing deafness metaphor. I thought, “Oh, he must be talking about the idiots showing up at the townhalls. I sure am getting deaf to those morons.” But, oh yes, this is a nutrition blog.

    My brother, who became much huger than I ever thought about being by exceeding 300 lbs, recently just inched below 200 lbs (6’2″) on a raw vegetable and fruit diet. He’s a vegetarian, but said he used to be a “donut and pasta vegetarian.”

    Are the townhalls still going on?

    It’s kind of amusing … people who used to stuff themselves with sugar and starch lose weight on whole-food vegetarian diets, then people point to them as proof that carbs don’t make you fat. Well, a glass of wine per day won’t make you drunk, but a bottle of Jim Beam will. If he feels healthy without eating meat, more power to him.

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  18. Wanda

    Sounds like Jane Brody has been passing around her hammer 😉

    My family MD recently moved, and his practice was taken over by a younger MD (think 30!) who looks even younger that that. When I went for my annual visit, I politely notified her that I was pretty much going without carbohydrate completely. She didn’t even bat an eye, congratulated me on my weight loss and encouraged me to keep up with my healthy lifestyle.

    I was sort of disappointed, because I had the Eadeses’ books with me, along with a slew of studies to back up my chioces and maybe educate the good doctor. But don’t get me wrong, I am very glad that she did not protest. Hopefully more MDs will see the light!

    Science is often advanced by funerals. Sounds like retirements help too.

    Reply
  19. Skip

    Great words of wisdom. I’ve been on a NO starch or high fructuse corn syrup and sugar regiment for years. Namely, because I would be a 400 lbs. unhealthy Type II deathtrap otherwise. Instead I’m a competitive body athlete and fire fighter.

    Speaking of work pressure and carb traps. Food prep and consumption at the firehouse is a big part of our daily comeraderie. Add that to “The need to fit in with the Bravado of ‘Eating like a man,” and it becomes very hard not to be the food outsider. However, over time I have transformed the firehouse into non-bread eating, carb conscious eaters who have lost over 50 pounds of belly and back fat just from our shift alone.

    Not sure I have a point other than to say that determination and education will turn any skeptic into a true soldier to health.

    If people doubt my manhood because of my low-carb diet, I just pick up a steak and tear into it without benefit of utensils, then get myself lost and refuse to ask directions. Works every time.

    If I needed rescuing from a burning building, I’d prefer my firefighter not be hefting his own big belly down the ladder in addition to mine. Sounds like you’re improving your abilities along with your health.

    Reply
  20. Morgoroth

    I know this is an old entry from the past, but it mentioned something I was talking about just the other day. Can your body produce glucose without sugar and carbs in your diet? If so, how, and what foods?

    Absolutely. Your body can easily convert dietary protein to glucose on an as-needed basis.

    Reply

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