Pot, Meet Kettle – The Hope Warshaw/Diabetes Health Controversy by Amy Dungan

Diabetes Health Controversy

Diabetes Health recently published an article by diabetes expert Hope Warshaw that has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest in the low carb community. In her piece titled Type 2 Diabetes: From Old Dogma to New Realities, Warshaw discusses what she believes are basically old wives’ tales about diabetes care, while recommending a fantastic new treatment. The problem here? Her ideas are not new, fantastic or even scientific. And that old wives’ tale, or “old dogma” as she likes to phrase it, happens to be what science has proven to work for those wishing to sustain healthy blood sugar levels. What is the old dogma you ask? A low carbohydrate diet.

Pot, meet Kettle.

Now, stop me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t recall any mainstream organization ever really backing a low carb plan for treating diabetes. How can it be old dogma, when it was never an accepted approach in the first place? The old dogma is really the low-fat, shovel-in-grains-by-the-barrel plan. And it is dogma. You couldn’t pry whole wheat out of most dietitians’ hands if your life depended on it. They are firmly entrenched in the “fat is bad, grains are good” paradigm.

So Warshaw says that low carb is out, despite science repeatedly proving its effectiveness, time and time again. Her recommendation is to increase those carbohydrates. Here’s a quote from her article:

“Old Dogma: People with type 2 diabetes should follow a low carbohydrate diet.

“New Reality: Nutrition recommendations for people with type 2 diabetes from the American Diabetes Association and other health authorities echo the recently unveiled U.S. 2010 Dietary Guidelines (1/31/11) for carbohydrate: about 45 to 65 percent of calories. (Americans currently eat about 45 to 50 percent of calories as carbohydrate-not a “high carb” intake.)”

Yeah… That’ll do it.

While we are at it, why don’t we just stick an insulin pump on everyone now, and get it over with? How can someone who is supposed to be so smart say something so ignorant? I’m no genius (yes, I know that’s obvious), but even I know that carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Why would anyone in their right mind think it’s healthy to eat something that will actually make their condition worse?

I’ve heard the lame old excuses over and over.

“But diabetics deserve to eat the foods they like!” Deserve? It makes me wonder if the people who say they hate diabetics. Because eating all those foods they “deserve” also means they’ll have to take medications or get shots. Do they “deserve” those too? I think what people really deserve is the knowledge that the correct dietary choices can free them from large amounts of medication, not to mention save them money. The correct dietary choices may save their lives.

And why on God’s green earth are we using the USDA Guidelines for diabetics? As much as I disagree with the guidelines, even they will tell you that these were written for the average, relatively healthy American. This is why we have organizations like the American Diabetes Association. These organizations are supposed to design plans specific to the needs of those with diabetes. So what happened ADA? Why are you looking to the USDA to give you direction?

Something else these recommendations lead me to ask: Is it really ignorance that keeps all this carb-pushing alive? A few years ago, I would have said yes. I’ve tried to believe that all these diabetes experts just needed a little education on the subject and they’d do the right thing. Instead, when faced with the science, they seem to put on blinders, stick their fingers in their ears, and chant “I’m not listening!” I wonder why that is, when there is not only science, but a butt-load of personal testimonies from T2 diabetics everywhere who have used a low carb or paleo approach to all but cure their condition. Sad to say, I’m pretty sure money is part of the answer.

The American Diabetes Association has to have funding to keep things running. That’s a no-brainer. But it’s who they get a large part of their funding from that has me scratching my head.

2010 Donations from Pharmaceutical Companies to the American Diabetes Association

  • Abbott Labratories – $701,893
  • Amylin Pharmaceuticals – $896,850
  • AstraZeneca – $105,586
  • AstraZeneca/Bristol-Meyers Squibb – $300,200
  • Bayer HealthCare – $ 454,581
  • BD Diabetes Care – $689,073
  • Bristol Myers-Squibb – $293,402
  • Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals – $492,350
  • Covidien – $100,000
  • Dailchi-Sankyo Pharmaceuticals – $290,080
  • Eli Lilly – $1,864,965
  • Ethicon-Endo Surgery – $75,000
  • Genentech Pharmaceuticals – $174,710
  • GlaxoSmithKline – $140,405
  • LifeScan, Inc. (a Johnson and Johnson Company) -$195,125
  • Medtronic Diabetes – $478,751
  • Merck – $1,707,267
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals – $24,855
  • Novo Nordisk, Inc. – $3,402,149
  • Pfizer Inc. – $325,891
  • Roche Diagnostics Corporation – $ 323,455
  • Sanofi-aventis – $3,270,022
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals – $653,808

So the ADA, along with these generous companies, is looking for a cure for diabetes. Out of the millions of dollars donated here, were any of them used to do studies on carbohydrate-restricted diets? They say they want to find a cure. It’s right there on the ADA’s website. I know people who claim they are all but cured when on a low-carb plan. Why can’t these organizations put two and two together? Because in this case two plus two doesn’t equal millions of dollars in donations and pharmaceutical sales. Sorry to be so cynical, but I can’t help but see this any other way. I simply don’t see how there can be any real vested interest in a cure if it means far fewer meds will be needed and the ADA will be virtually obsolete. They should be working themselves out of a job. Truth is, it doesn’t appear that will happen any time soon.

Experts like Warshaw continue to push carbs and medications

So experts like Warshaw continue to push carbs and medications like a crack peddler on the street. Meanwhile, people continue to get worse. If you think I’m angry about these recommendations, you are dead right. Diabetes is prevalent in my family, you wouldn’t believe how prevalent. I’m pre-diabetic myself. I use a low carb plan to keep my blood sugar stable, and, hopefully, avoid a T2 diagnosis in the future. One very special family member of mine is losing her eyesight to this horrible disease. She’s now been told to cut out sugar completely and watch her carbohydrate intake, but is it too little, too late? What if she’d been told that decades ago, after first being diagnosed? Maybe she wouldn’t be battling to keep her eyesight now. Maybe she wouldn’t have suffered for so many years with a variety of ailments caused by having T2.

Warshaw’s recommendations are not only foolish but irresponsible.

While low carb may not be for everyone, it sure as heck works for diabetics. I don’t want to hear flimsy excuses from the likes of Nadia Al-Samarrie, apparently an editor at Diabetes Health, who today defended Warshaw and her advice. What I want to see is some real science being used back up recommended treatments. REAL SCIENCE. We’ve accepted the current recommendations at face value for way too long. I stopped doing that a long time ago, and if you haven’t, I encourage you to do so now. We can make a difference if we all work together. If we can’t change the “expert” minds, we’ll shout over them until no one is listening to them anymore.

One way you can help us shout this nonsense down is to join the Nutrition & Metabolism Society. Every little bit helps this organization keep the scientific truth in front of the people who need to hear it most – us. They go to battle for us in the medical and scientific communities, and they truly care about helping people with their nutritional needs. I’m a member, and I hope you’ll join us. At the least click the link and check out their awesome new website. It’s full of coolness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go duct tape my head so it doesn’t explode.

© Amy Dungan. Article and photograph used by kind permission of the author. Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan

For additional information on the Hope Warshaw/Diabetes Health controversy, please read Dana Carpender’s article Righteous About a Diabetes Diet? Damn Right!, here at CarbSmart Magazine and continue with More Information on the Hope Warshaw/Diabetes Health Controversy.

Read more by Amy Dungan.

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