Kentucky's Chronic Disease

Laura Ungar reports in today's Louisville Courier-Journal about the terrible state of things in Kentucky. The state is among the worst in the US when it comes to cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases that are influenced by diet, exercise, and quitting smoking.

The title of her article is Bad Habits Give Birth to Chronic Diseases. The title implies the good news: changing habits can reverse chronic disease.

Ms. Ungar points out that the nature of fighting disease is shifting. It used to be that people got sick (with infections, etc.) and doctors cured them. The prevalant diseases at the moment, however, are not curable by doctors, but instead are best prevented with a long-term healthy approach.

Kentuckians would be much healthier if their major diseases were caused by germs.

Then a vaccine or antibiotics might prevent or cure what ails us.

But in the Bluegrass State, we suffer from such chronic illnesses as lung cancer, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes � which are much more difficult to control because they are linked to harmful habits long accepted in Kentucky.

And we start down this road at a young age with habits that too often continue into adulthood.

The state ranks worst in the nation for teen tobacco use and above the national average for high school students who are obese. Adults smoke at the highest rate in the nation and exercise at the lowest rates. Many residents eat high-fat diets without enough fruits and vegetables, which combine with sedentary lifestyles to help make Kentucky the seventh-fattest state in America.

The article also quotes a nursing professor:

"It's ridiculous. It's just way out of whack," Ellen Hahn, a University of Kentucky nursing professor, said of spending on prevention. As a society "we don't value prevention. We just wait until a crisis happens and throw money at it."

Nutrition Researcher: Frank Hu

One of the world's most respected nutrition and disease prevention researchers is Frank Hu, MD, Ph.D., who is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Hu has been instrumental in many of the studies that Dr. Fuhrman cites. Anyone who wants to know more about nutrition research would be smart to follow his work. Here are some of the studies Dr. Hu has been involved with.

2002 Diabetes in Men Study
This study, released in 2002, tracked 42,000 men for twelve years. At the beginning of the study, none had diabetes. 1,321 cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed during the study. All participants were asked repeatedly about their diets, and those who ate what the researchers called the "western diet" (high in red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and refined grains) and were obese and inactive were at a mich higher risk to get type 2 diabetes.

A Harvard School of Public Health press release describes the study. "The implications of the study are straightforward," says Dr. Hu in the release. "To substantially decrease the chances of getting type 2 diabetes and developing potentially serious complications like blindness, kidney failure and heart disease, men should change their eating pattern and increase their intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish. They should also get plenty of exercise and avoid weight gain."

2004 Study of Weight and Exercise in Women
More than 115,000 women were studied between 1976 and 2000. The findings were clear: being overweight and not exercising both significantly affected mortality. "There is no question that one should be as active as possible no matter what your weight is, but it is equally important to maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain through diet and lifestyle," Dr. Hu says in a press release describing the study.

2004 Study of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
This study attempted to assess some of the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on health. More than 91,000 participants filled out questionnaires between 1991 and 1999, and the results were remarkable: those who had more than one sugared soft-drink per day had an 80 percent increased risk of diabetes compared to those who had one per month.

"This is the first study to show a strong positive association between sugar-sweetened beverages, including regular sodas and fruit punches, and diabetes risk," said Frank Hu in a press release describing the study. "Our study suggests that limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, especially soft drinks, is an important public health strategy to curb the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes."

2000 Studies of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
Two studies taken together showed coronary heart disease was dramatically reduced among women who stopped smoking and ate a healthier diet. The studies tracked 86,000 women over a 14-year period.

Here's how Dr. Hu summarized his findings: "Taken together, these studies give strong support to the theories that much of heart disease can be prevented through changes in diet and lifestyle. This newest study shows that a person's risk can drop very quickly by improving their diets and by quitting smoking."

You can read more about Dr. Hu's research at the Harvard School of Public Health website.

The Diet That Defeats Diabetes

How can we lower high glucose levels, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lose weight and not need to take drugs such as insulin and sulfonylureas which cause weight gain?

Here is the simple answer---the best diet for humans to live longer in superior health is also the best diet for one with diabetes. That is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio as described in my book, Eat To Live. When one eats a diet predominating in nature's perfect foods---green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds and limited amount of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy for people to eat as much as they want and still lose weight relatively quickly. This includes lots of great tasting food, great recipes, but no oil, butter, cheese, flour or sweets. My experience has demonstrated that those choosing to follow my nutritional recommendation have their diabetes melt away astonishingly fast even before they have lost most of their excess weight.

One of Many Success Stories
James Kenney was referred to my office from his nephrologist at St. Barnabus Hospital in Livingston, 6108032618. Mr. Kenney was originally referred to the nephrologist by his endocrinologist (diabetic specialist) at the Joslin Clinic because of kidney damage that resulted from very high glucose readings in spite of maximum medical management.

First Visit
At his first visit, Jim weighed 268 pounds and was taking a total of 175 units of insulin per day. He had already suffered from severe complications of Type 2 diabetes, including two heart attacks and Charcot (destructive inflammation) joint damage in his right ankle. In spite of this huge dose of insulin and six other medications, Jim's glucose readings averaged between 350 - 400. This was the case "no matter what I eat," he said. Jim told me that he was already on a careful ADA diet, and was following the precise dietary recommendations of the dietician at the Joslin Clinic.

He started my Eat To Live program right away and I immediately reduced his insulin dose down to 130 units per day. Jim and I spoke on the phone over the next few days, and I continued to decrease his insulin gradually.

Five Days
After five days, Jim's glucose was running between 80 and 120, and he had lost ten pounds. At this juncture, I put him on 45 units of Lantus insulin at bedtime and 6 units of Humalog regular insulin before each meal for a total of 63 units per day.

Two Weeks
At his two week visit Jim had lost 16 pounds. I stopped his blood pressure medications and he was taking a total of 58 units per day of insulin.

One Month
After the first month of my Eat To Live program, I was able to stop all of Jim's insulin and start him on Glucophage. He lost 25 pounds in the first five weeks and his blood glucose readings were well controlled without insulin. His blood pressure also came down to normal and he no longer required any blood pressure medications.

Five Months
Five months later: No more diabetes medication, and a 60-pound weight loss Five months later, Jim was off all medications for diabetes, no longer had high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and was more than 60 pounds lighter. His kidney insufficiency had normalized as well.

This case illustrates not merely how powerful the diet from my Eat To Live approach is, but how the standard dietary advice given to diabetics from conventional physicians and dieticians is insufficient. Jim Kenney would likely be dead by now had his nephrologist not referred him to me for an effective dietary approach.