November 14, 2010

Do Something that Actually Helps

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of diabetes awareness events that accomplish nothing.

Wearing ribbons, lighting candles, and thinking about your friends with diabetes is what we call "Slactivism." You feel like you've done something, but all you've done is make yourself feel good. Nothing changes.

So go on, light all the virtual candles you want, but when you are done, consider what the impact might have been if all that money and media power that went into promoting this slactivist event had been put to the task of telling the public the single fact that might give them a fighting chance against diabetes: that the starches and sugars they eat are what raise their blood sugar and that if they cut back hard on starch and sugar they could lower their blood sugar and avoid all the complications their doctors think are inevitable.

That a "healthy diet for diabetes" is a diet low in carbs is a simple idea that 80% of people with diabetes never hear about. Many doctors don't even know it. If they did, they wouldn't be handing their newly diagnosed diabetic patients ADA sanctioned brochures telling them to eat oatmeal, bananas, apples, potatoes and whole wheat toast. (And no I'm not exaggerating. My doctor gave me that brochure just 3 years ago.)

So celebrate World Diabetes Day by telling everyone you meet the truth about what people with Type 2 diabetes need to do to regain their health: test their blood sugar after meals and cut back on carbohydrates until they see normal blood sugars.

It's that simple. If 1/1000s of the resources put into promoting these slactivist festivals were put into distributing the How to Lower Your Blood Sugar flyer thousands of people might avoid nerve damage, impotence, retinal damage and kidney failure.

For people with diabetes every day is Diabetes Day. They need information not feel good media events. If you have that information, share it with a neighbor or relative who could use it. Maybe it will help, maybe not, but at least you tried.



Lori Miller said...

I talked to my managing partner's assistant about letting coworkers use my BG meter to test their fasting, one-hour and two-hour BG levels. It would make it easy for them to see if they have diabetes or a metabolic problem. I'd bet a mortgage payment that our office has three people with undiagnosed diabetes. I'm waiting to hear what he has to say. said...

Jenny, I've seen you question glucose meters, diet recommendations, and corporate-sponsored blog-junkets.

However (and I'm sure I just missed it), but I don't recall ever seeing you question the mainstream recommendations for blood glucose and HgbA1c numbers.

Obviously Pharma and equipment manufacturers want the recommendations as low as possible, so more people will buy their products.

So, my question is: do you think the recommended blood glucose levels are right? What do you think the finger-prick blood glucose high/low range should be?

Again, I'm sure you have discussed this, so I apologize for missing and/or forgetting it.

Jenny said...

The recommended blood sugar levels supported by the ADA and its sponsors at Big Pharma are too high if we decide what is right by looking at what the research tells us about what blood sugar levels are associated with complications.

You can read those findings here:

Research connecting organ damage with blood sugar level

A1cs in the 5% range or lower help, but it is post-meal blood sugars that appear to be the most dangerous. Keeping them under 140 mg/dl at all times should prevent most complications. Lower is better, of course. said...

Jenny, thanks for the very informative links. I was hoping you would say that higher levels were acceptable.

However, since my blood glucose levels have been way too high for way too long, and they have caused me many problems, here's my next question: Is there any hope for improvement?

Specifically, is there anything that can be done to grow new beta cells? If I eat right for a long time, might I grow new beta cells?

Jenny said...

Evolutionary Diet, You'll find the answers to your questions by reading the many pages on the Blood Sugar 101 site that go into the answers in detail. Start with the Read This First page for an overview.

The book version puts the information in order.

It's very possible to lower blood sugar and the strategies that will do it for you are mapped out there. There's no way to put it all into a comment, that's why I wrote a 60,000 word web site and book.

b said...

I read every word of your 60,000 word website and that helped me to drop my A1c to the 5% range. But I'm still worried about my numbers because whatever I do, I can't get my post-meal numbers below 140. I tried your advice to test after eating and cut out anything that spikes my blood sugar. Unfortunately, everything spikes my blood sugar - I bounced to 200 90 minutes after a 2-egg omelette. What would be your advice in this situation? I am on insulin but it *usually* takes a minimum of 2 hours before my 'rapid-acting' insulin takes any effect. I have tried injecting way in advance of meals (to the horror of my diabetes team, who recommended starting with 10 minutes - I often inject 2 hours before eating!). But there is obviously the worry of hypos as my FBG is usually in the 80-110 range. I have terrible postprandial spikes whatever I eat but the numbers are usually back in a normal range 5 hours later. I just worry about potential organ damage in the time it takes to get back to a safe BG level.

Jenny said...


If your blood sugar is spiking after eating no carbs, something unusual is going on. Is it possible that you have delayed digestion (this happens to people with diabetes) so you are getting carbs from an earlier meal hitting the blood stream? Blood sugar should not be rising like that without carbs coming in.

If it is something unusual may be going on and you need to see a highly trained endocrinologist as it is very unusual. Look for one associated with a high quality medical school, not the local people many of whom are useless for anything not routine.

b said...

Dear Jenny,

Thanks for your response. My diabetes team is based at a major university hospital and in general I am quite happy with the care I've been getting.

But in general they seem to have slightly different priorities to me. They seem to think that being in the 5% club brings with it the danger of hypos and that is what they are worried about. In fact I was told by one doctor to 'loosen up', and that there is not much of a difference between an A1c of under 7, and one in the 5 range.

I was also told not to test after meals. My pre-meal numbers are usually OK. But in an effort to further lower my A1c, I started testing after meals and was horrified.

I am doing OK at carb counting and matching boluses to food but it seems I also need boluses for non-carb foods.

To summarize, the problem seems to be that food hangs around for a long time spiking my BG, and at the same time, rapid-acting insulin also hangs around for a long time doing nothing, then kicks in and finally has desired effect 4-5 hours later.

Unknown said...

Hi Jenny I share your sentiment about spending monies on all kinds of evens that sometimes might be a waste.
On the other hand it is also a case of “Horses for Courses”. Not everyone is watching TV or reading news papers so that they can become aware of Diabetes.
If I did not have internet and by chance stumble across your blogs I would most properly still be on medication. Your view point about major corporations certainly has given me a wake-up call. You had me question the “Diabetic diet” scram that gets handed to you by a dietitian that knows nothing about diabetes.
So maybe if we can have an Event to promote your blogs, more people like me can save money by listening to your advice sooner in their diabetic careers.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Good points. I forward your blog to people I know who have diabetes.

Just curious Jenny, but do you have experience with intermittent fasting or going longer periods between meals? Does this help improve the average blood glucose levels since you're dosing with dietary carbs less frequently? or does glucagon increase blood levels too high anyway if you go too long without eating? I wonder if B's problem is that her liver is so insensitive to insulin that it thinks insulin and blood glucose are low and releases glucose instead.


Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

While I am sure there is some truth to your critique, there are many people who go above and beyond simply "lighting virtual candles" to observe World Diabetes Day. Personally I worked an event to educate the public and show people that diabetes is, in my case, an incurable disease that does not get better or go away when you grow up. And the ugly truth (for type 1, anyway) is that no amount of adherence to any other kind of diet will keep me from needing insulin injections. Low-carbing helps a bit, but I could eat nothing at all and still need shots every day just to stay alive. And there are many, many PWDs with type 2 who eat no carbs and still do not "see normal blood sugars." My 160-lb., 5'10" uncle is one of them. Type 2 scares me because at least I know insulin still works for me...I can't imagine injecting and not seeing any effect on my blood sugars.

But I do agree with one statement, every day *is* WDD for those of us with diabetes. Unfortunately most people still have no idea what we live through every day. This is why the general public needs to learn why it is so difficult and absolutely must be cured.

Jenny said...


The usual advice given to people with diabetes is not to fast, but I'd be interested in hearing what people's actual experiences with intermittant fasting have been.

I tried a version of it last year but ended up finding it made me unpleasantly hungry during the times when I was eating.

PJNOIR said...

"Give up bread, what are you sick? You don't eat pasta, then what do you eat? We need fiber, mister know it all." These are some of the replies I get from people when I try to nudge them toward a healtier diet. Carbs are no different than Nicotine. It is very hard to btreak the cycle. If only people heard the word CANCER when the doctor said tyou have DIABETES.

Scott S said...

Personally, refined carb reduction would help everyone, not just PWD's, and might actually eliminate impaired glucose tolerance. Diets loaded with highly-processed foods are best limited by everyone, but don't look for USDA (or the ADA) to recommend those anytime soon; the vested interests are too entrenched to allow that to happen.

Alan said...

G'day Jenny

I've celebrated the day by completing the final proof-read before sending my book off for the first proof copy.

You may not have realised how much you inspired me to do that. I don't write at your level of informed detail, but keep an eye out for "What on Earth Can I Eat? Food, Type 2 Diabetes and YOU".

Cheers, Alan

Jenny said...


Congratulations on finishing your book. I can't wait to see it!

Unknown said...

As always, well said, Jenny!

Jason said...

Just found this blog and will begin making my way through it all and the other websites.

I'm not a diabetic... yet, but I'm certainly in a high-risk group. My Father's side of the family is riddled with diabetics and I take after my Father in sooooooo many ways.

The older I get, the more aware I become of my body's frailty. Other than moving on to whatever is next, I don't reckon there's any way around that and I'm not going anywhere until I'm good and ready. :)

It's refreshing seeing the carb-controlled paradigm gain some traction. My Father was given the old standard diet. It didn't serve him well until the day he died from complications of being diabetic. It wasn't until years later that I learned about the advantages of a low-carb diet. He sure would've loved it!

Alright, I'm rambling... Thanks for the all the information!

Lori Miller said...

The managing partner liked my idea of letting coworkers use my BG meter, and another partner is interested in having her own one-hour BG level tested. Yay!