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Carbohydrate restriction in Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

September 8, 2016


Since the 1970’s, dietary guidelines in most Westernised countries have recommended a low fat, high carbohydrate diet regime. This was based on some questionable science, conducted by a scientist/nutritionist called Ancel Keys, who had an axe to grind and a pet theory to prove. Namely that health, particularly heart disease, was affected by various kinds of fat in the diet. The upshot of this was that the powers-that-be at that time were convinced and the USA nutritional guidelines were changed to reflect this. Fat was bad, and carbohydrate was good. This was to try to reduce the apparent epidemic of heart disease, which was the biggest killer of the time. This was decided despite the fact that the human diet historically had low carbs and moderate amounts of protein and fat. Carbohydrate in serious quantities only became freely available from about 12-13000 years ago, with the establishment of agricultural practices in the Middle East.

The food industry rose to the challenge. Food with little fat tastes very unpalatable, and to make it more acceptable to the masses, large amounts of sugar were added. The scene was set for another epidemic, which duly came to pass.

Since 1974, the incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes has steadily climbed. The lower the fat, the higher the sugar content in food. Heart disease remains the biggest cause of death, although the incidence of heart disease has declined somewhat. The decline in heart disease correlates better with the decline in smoking

The medical profession’s response to the rise in diabetes was to continue to expound the high carb message and to prescribe more medication. This was based on the premise that the human body needs glucose, which is the final breakdown product of carbs, as its energy source. In fact, the only organ in the body which needs glucose as its essential energy source is the brain. Every other part of the body can and does run on fat, which is a cleaner and more efficient energy source. Glucose is more instantly available, so can be used for very intense activity, such as sprinting. Hunter gatherers would trail their prey for long distances, at slow speeds, using fat for energy, and then use glucose in the rush or the final kill, or possibly to run away, if the prey turned on them!

Because of the widespread availability of carbs all year round, and the general lack of exercise, we have become conditioned to running on carbs all the time. Excess carbs in the diet are first used to fill the body’s glycogen (carb) stores. The rest is converted to fat, which is the body’s long term energy storage. Because of the excess carbs in the diet, more and more fat is stored, leading to obesity.

In further news I will go into more detail about how we can change this and help diabetics get healthy and off their medication.


Dr Shirley