How the NHS failed me and mine.
What it did, to the most important person
in my life and how it could happen to you unless
we do something about it!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Diabetics-Do No Harm ?

Like most people I really had no view on the plight of Diabetics; that is until it impinged on my life. Shortly after my life's love had healed from her ordeal at the hands of the NHS certain symptoms and evidence in the patient file lead me to the view she had NIDDM (non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus). This was confirmed within a short time by tests conducted via the GP.
I researched the likely prognosis for this ailment, of which I had some basic knowledge from many years before, only to become increasingly alarmed at what the future might bring. It would have been nice to blame the Hospital for this but whilst I am appalled at their basic incompetence in diagnostics and follow-ups it was not something you could catch like MSRA. I could postulate that the trauma they subjected J to was instrumental in the diabetes coming to the fore after probably her being Insulin resistant for some time. I do blame them, for missing what was obvious to me, an old and very rusty biochemist and in doing so, putting her life at risk. But, as she survived that failure, there is no 'causation' so no harm then!
What however emerged from my intensive foray into the darker reaches of the debate about diabetes was both alarming and debilitating.

Most diabetics are obese (80%).

Most diabetics are insulin resistant to some degree or another.

Most are prescribed hypoglycemic agents in the form of Metformin or others both in isolation or in tandem with others.

Most decline in their control of their blood glucose levels to the extent that have to inject insulin as a means of control once the drugs cease to adequately provide it.

Most go on to develop co-morbidity's related to diabetes in the form of peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy and liver or coronary heart disease and usually hypertension.

Quite a litany of ailments, none withstanding the side effects of the drugs they take especially insulin which increases their likelihood of obesity still further and exposes them to hypoglycemic episodes which are life threatening.

So what to do?

I was not persuaded of the view that this was all that could be done as certain facts seemed self evident.

1. Attempts to increase pancreatic output of insulin by drugs of someone whose Islets are already exhausted seemed counter productive and counter intuitive.

2. To promote the idea of utilising a 'normal balanced diet' for nutrition which included quite a large percentage of carbohydrates seemed to not only be unproductive but insane!

3. To advocate within this diet an avoidance of fats especially the saturated type also seemed both stupid and unscientific in the extreme!

I have never believed in the Diet-Heart Hypothesis anyway, so I could not understand why there is an advocacy for low fat diets for anyone let alone the Diabetic,who probably only got to be so, by a diet with an over abundance of carbohydrates in the first place. Any fairly lowly biologist can tell you of the reaction of the human body to the intake of any carbohydrate; it invokes the supply of insulin to enable the muscles to take up the product and to some extent the liver too. If that person has both limited insulin manufacturing capability ie; Diabetes and/or Insulin Resistance then the end result is high levels of circulating blood glucose. This the very problem that the prescribed drugs are there to address! So why would you eat such a diet? It is the same as advocating an alcoholic to drink more alcohol!

It seemed that we were f****d. But, hold on, I remembered that the human body can and has often survived on ketone bodies rather than simple glucose and that grains and sugars are relatively new to the human diet. So I looked deeper into diet and health and found a substantial body of opinion well founded in science, that we can live healthy lives with less illness if we largely shun carbohydrate intake in favour of fats (no insulin reaction at all) and proteins (limited insulin reaction).

So that is what we did, both her - very low carbohydrate diet - and me - restricted carbohydrate diet. The result has been dramatic if a little protracted. In six months Hba1c down from 8.7 to 6.6, blood pressure down to below 120/70 and someone glowing with health and half a stone lighter. Me, I'm a stone lighter and my arthritis knows it! All without recourse to drugs and against the advice of the mainstream view.

So why is the NHS, Diabetes UK, the ADA and all these other bodies giving advice that counters this? I can only assume that the same influences that brought us statin drugs continues to profit from its perpetuation. There's not a lot of profit in it for 'Big Pharma' if we all stopped taking these drugs and controlled NIDDM with diet and exercise. A profit stream would be all but stifled and the organisations they support (and they do, in spades) would be relegated to a very small role. Many would lose their jobs and the NHS (the taxpayer) would save a fortune, and we are talking billions!

We continue down this road unsupported by the NHS even for the test strips although the GP has expressed delight in the figures even J's 25(OHD) levels which are good,(that's the vitamin D3 levels) which indicates good absorption from diet and sunlight.

I'm still holding my breath about all of this; I am a pessimist still sometimes mired down in depression but all indications are that with a little more effort J could become a 'latent' type 11 diabetic and some increase in pancreatic output could occur with a lowering of her Insulin Resistance. But this is now and maybe that's too much to hope. It is a way though, one pioneered by Atkins for weight loss but always advocated by him as the best way of Diabetic control. I also owe my thanks to Barry Groves for his excellent advice and informative writings and Gary Taubes for his.

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