Mark Sisson's Daily Apple blog carries the tagline: "Doing my part to piss off the self-righteous health establishment." Obviously, he prides himself on stirring the pot -- or shaking the tree, as his metaphor would have it.
Among other outspoken claims, Mark recently wrote that diabetes is "a made-up, stupid disease" -- called to my attention by one of his assistants (a staff of five helps Mark compile the blog, which exists at least in part to help sell the group's nutrition supplements; note that I had to school Mark's assistants on the difference between news services like the AP and personal blogs, in order to stop them from lifting post content without attribution.)
Anyway, I just couldn't resist querying Mark on this juicy stance about the non-existence of diabetes. Here's what he had to say:
About Mark's Daily Apple: "My mission is to radically shake people up -- to get them thinking about health issues from a fresh perspective. Clearly, the way things are being done right now isn't working for people's health. I want to create change, discussion, and frankly, call people on their b.s. (which usually means the government and pharmaceutical companies, not individuals). I have a big problem with media spin and medical corruption and I think, as it applies to diabetes, the current state of affairs is inexcusable."
About his irreverent style: "If it can get people talking, thinking, and taking action, I've done my job. In this particular case, riffing about diabetes was yet another opportunity for me to highlight what I see as extreme absurdity in the health industry by being totally absurd myself. Yes, I get carried away. My response is always: and there's a problem with that? It got your attention!"
"To clarify, my objective, as the founder of Primal Nutrition, and with over 25 years' experience in high-level anti-doping work, in supplement development and scientific research, and as a biologist, is to focus on prevention."
About understanding diabetes: "Yes, I do know the difference between diabetes type 1 and type 2. It would have helped to make that clear in my post, but being that my blog is about prevention and lifestyle, my emphasis is on type 2, and preventing it. My readers are familiar with my focus on type 2, but new readers aren't, so I could have been more clear."
"I do see the vast numbers of people with type 2 as a real waste -- of resources, medical expertise, and individual lives. Why? Because the evidence is compelling that type 2 can be prevented in most cases. In fact, I would argue that all but a tiny fraction of type 2 cases are entirely preventable. And almost all type 2 cases that haven't progressed to beta cell failure and insulin dependence are completely reversible -- curable by lifestyle and diet. A so-called 'genetic predisposition' isn't a guarantee that you'll develop diabetes, it's a huge red flag that you more than most need to watch what you eat and how you exercise (and how you control stress). In fact, I'd argue that we are all 'diabetic' to some degree. Eat the wrong things, live the wrong lifestyle, and chances are good you'll develop diabetes. The numbers certainly reflect that. Type 1 is a disease, but I would argue that type 2 is a condition that can largely be prevented."
On the D-Epidemic: "We don't need 1 in 3 kids developing diabetes (we need food marketers to stop manipulating socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and highly-impressionable children). We don't need an epidemic (we need healthier lifestyles, especially with this week's news that so many specific groups of Americans are genetically susceptible to insulin problems). I hold food marketers, the federal government's wimping out to lobbyists, and the largely uninformed media responsible.
"... Most of the health 'news' out there is nothing more than a press release from a drug company. The FDA is a mess. But people don't always know that -- clearly they don't, or we wouldn't have an epidemic on our hands."
"Ultimately, however, individuals are also responsible, so it sometimes takes an uncomfortable splash of water to wake someone up. I hate the line of lies people are fed -- that disease just 'happens,' and you'd better just take a drug and hope to hobble along without losing a limb, your vision, or worse. Diabetes (again, type 2) can always be managed better through the appropriate lifestyle choices, and in most cases, even eliminated. Any biologist or individual inclined to do the digging (such as yourself) knows how the body works and can implement effective steps and tools to undo a lot of damage."
Offering health advice: "As far as my personal recommendations: I advocate, of course, absolutely cutting out all refined carbohydrates and sugars, eliminating trans fats (including partially hydrogenated oils), increasing intake of Omega 3s, paying attention to portion control (calories), getting daily aerobic and/or resistance exercise, and the big one: controlling stress. Do all those and you prevent 99% of type 2 or CURE most of those who have it. By the way, when I say 'cure' I mean that you no longer have the condition as long as you follow the rules. I know that flies in the face of the 'once a diabetic, always a diabetic' mindset, but by the same token, I believe a person who used to drink, but hasn't touched alcohol for 10 years needn't still refer to him/herself as an alcoholic."
Bottom line: "As you can see, I don't have a problem with rocking the boat. Someone has to. Certainly we can agree -- lives are at stake."
Thanks for sounding off, Mark. We think...