September 6, 2007

The Worst Non-Facts from Nutritionists

Here are a randomly chosen list of horribly bad advice people with diabetes have reported getting from registered dietitians in the last couple months. They all have in common that they are completely wrong.

1. If your blood sugar goes below 100 mg/dl, it's a hypo and you have to eat some carbs right away to bring it back up. (Told to a Type 2 controlling with only diet and exercise!)

No. The normal blood sugar range goes down to 70 mg/dl. The ideal blood sugar for someone who is controlling with diet alone is mid-80s.

2. Your brain stops working if you eat less than 130 mg/dl of carbs a day.

No. Your brain works fine with 0 carbs as long as you eat enough protein that the liver can convert that protein to provide the roughly 60 grams of carbs you need to run your brain. About 58% of the protein in your diet can be converted to glucose.

3. If you are low on potassium, you should eat bananas.

Not unless you love having very high blood sugars. You can get potassium from avocados, broccoli, spinach, winter squash, mushrooms, lean meats, clams, and fish, including salmon. If you still don't think you are getting enough, one sprinkle of Morton's Salt Substitute will provide more than enough potassium for anyone.

4. You have to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. A lot more is even better.

No. This is the "Water Myth" which was invented by the companies that sell bottled water. Too much water washes water soluble vitamins out of the body and can stress marginal kidneys.

5. Eat a lot of healthy whole grains. (To a Type 2 controlling with diet)

Not unless you want unhealthy high blood sugars. All the studies supposedly proving whole grains were "healthy" compared a diet of whole grains to an even higher carb diet full of white flour and potatoes.

No one has funded a study that compares a diet rich in whole grains with one free of almost all grain products, where the whole grain diet would come in very poorly. That's probably because no one will get rich NOT selling cheap grain to the public. Studies of low carbohydrate diets very low in grain of all types have shown that they make huge improvements in the blood sugar and lipids of people with diabetes.

6. Pasta is very good for your blood sugar.

Pasta LOOKS good if you test your blood sugar only at 1 or 2 hours after eating it because it takes 5-7 hours to digest. If you tested after it digested you'd be likely to see the 23 grams per ounce hitting the blood stream and the sight would not be pretty. A typical restaurant serving of pasta contains about 160 grams of carbohydrate. Without any sauce. Add the sugary tomato sauce and you just plain don't want to know!

That's a start. Send me your nutritionist horror stories!

Copyright Janet Ruhl 2007. If you are NOT reading this on the content has been STOLEN.


Rachel... said...

"You should try having some fruit with your breakfast".

"I am having a hard time believing that oatmeal has spiked you towards 300." (That was my highest reading EVER. Oatmeal for breakfast and 260 2 hours post. I'd hate to think what I was 1 hour post.)

Anna said...

Steel cut oatmeal raised me too high and too long, too. My new endo had hard time believing it until I showed him my very detailed food and BG records.

My highest food level ever came from a small Trader Joe's Organic Joe's O's (equivalent of Cheerios and high processed, predigested whole grain, doncha know) and whole milk. I measured out enough cereal an milk for 75gm of carbs (not such a big bowl, either) and used it for a home version of a 3 hr GTT. It acts very much like a glucose drink at the lab, with similar numbers and graph line.

After that, I banned cold cereals from the house. I hadn't bought sugary cereals ever, but when I saw how messed up it made my BG, I knew it had to go. My third grader is still grieving the loss, but he'll thank me later, I'm sure.

aurora said...

When I was first dx T2..I was eating exactly what I was told and what I had read ...oatmeal w/banana and skim milk...BS 140+..would drive to work..30min later BS 70!! I was told I was "carb sensitive" by my endo..then to eat more carbs (about 60 )from his nutritionist..!

renegadediabetic said...

Pasta is very good for your blood sugar??? What have these people been smoking???

And the 130g per day for brain function -- I used to suffer from brain fog in my high carb, pre-diabetic days. My brain functions much better on 30 - 40 g per day. What a crock!!

Ariane said...

This is not totally on topic because it's not just about humans...but it's a comparison. I have a cat with diabetes mellitus. His body and I were able to get him from a high insulin dose into remission/diet control through tight regulation and very low carb (under 7% carbs) wet food in multiple small meals. (Those fortunate felines with their potential for healing!)

But nutrition and blood glucose level advice given by most vets is practically guaranteed to keep a cat hyperglycemic and diabetic forever. Almost all the "prescription" diabetic cat foods are still too high in carbohydrates for any cat-- especially one with diabetes![see] Also, healthy cats show normal fasting BG levels averaging around 60-80s. Yet, even with those of us who test our cats' BG before injecting, many vets think BGs in the 200s are perfectly OK....and anything under 100 is dangerous and near hypo!

But I thought it was just diabetic animals who suffered from the attitudes of medical professionals that it's not important to restrict their carbs so much and it's OK if their BG isn't very close to normal ("We shouldn't expect it to be normal--he's diabetic!" - there's a vicious circle if I ever heard one!)

Here's why I guess I thought it was probably different for humans...A line that is VERY common from vets is "Cats don't need such tight regulation as diabetic humans do, because they don't live as long as humans so there isn't time to develop such physical damage" (Well, I can't see their shorter lives as a reason not to keep them as healthy as possible--and anyway, cats and dogs DO suffer damage from hyperglycemia including neuropathy and blindness.)

But it IS true that over the years there IS a huge potential for more devastating damage in a human with diabetes. So I was quite surprised to read here that there is not more concern from MDs & nutritionists in very tightly regulating BG -- and restricting carbs in order to do that--than there is from vets! It is disturbing to learn that the same kind of dismissive statements about tight regulation are being said to human diabetics!

So I want to know, what do they tell y'all human diabetics ? "You don't need to really have tighter regulation-- after all, you humans don't live as long as giant tortoises...." ? ;)

tina said...

Mine (a CDE with a PhD in nutrition & public health) told me I would suffer malnutrition and brain damage – maybe not right away, but eventually – if I don't eat at least 150 grams of carb a day, preferrably from whole grains (because they're so full of vitamins!). At the end of the appointment she handed me a bunch of free snack bar samples and coupons for various highly-refined mass produced "food" products ... in a giant goodie bag with a General Mills logo on it.