It's a Type 2 Life
It's a Type 2 Life

San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetes

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Words Not Spoken, Facts Not Presented

When it comes to dealing with diabetes, never forget that some of the information we get doesn’t always fully disclose the facts.

If that sounds paranoid, I don’t mean to come off that way. But as a former newspaperman, I know how easy it is to slant a story without ever introducing your own opinion into it. One way is simply to not mention pertinent facts that might cast doubt on what some people call the “narrative”—the interpretation of reality you’re trying to push.

Case in point: An article in the New York Times tells about an experiment using exercise and diet to lower the odds of developing cardiovascular disease among type 2 diabetes patients. The story says that researchers cut short what they thought would be a 13-year study by two years when it became apparent that the approach they were taking had a negligible effect on lowering type 2s’ cardiovascular risks.

Instead, it appeared that medications had a much more decisive effect on lowering risks than diet and exercise than anticipated.

While the researchers expressed some dismay at findings they obviously weren’t expecting, they left out one fact that might have hinted to readers a possible flaw in the study: They neglected to describe the diet they were experimenting with.  

Until you know—and this article won’t let us—what they were asking their test subjects to eat, you can’t tell what the real story is. Was it that the researchers were troubled that diet and exercise didn’t work, or that a particular diet and exercise didn’t work?

My suspicion is that the diet they put people on was the standard low-fat, fairly high-carb regimen that health experts have been pushing for the last 50 years. If not, I’m certain they would have told us.

My certainty is based on this: We have reached a point where much of the conventional wisdom about fat and carbohydrates is being met by increasing skepticism. The people who’ve been challenging it were at first dismissed as cranks and eccentrics. We were reassured that they were people so far out of the mainstream of proper scientific thinking that whatever they were saying could be easily dismissed.

But the contradictory evidence, compiled by some brilliant minds, keeps piling up. It is high carb intake that increasingly is being seen as the main culprit in cardiovascular problems, not fat intake. High carbs demonstrably lead to high blood glucose levels, and high blood glucose levels create inflammation—a necessary precondition for damaged arteries and blood vessels.

When you add to that the continuing “expert” advice that high carb intake is OK for people with diabetes—the ADA says up to 180 grams per day is fine for some people—it’s no wonder that even a calorie-modified diet that is still low-fat/high-carb just won’t cut it.

As I said, that’s what I suspect is the reason why the researchers here (or perhaps the reporters) are beating around the bush. It’s difficult to challenge accepted old notions about the nature of things.

Ask Galileo or Pasteur. 

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Tags: Communication , Food , Controversies

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About the Author

Bay Area resident Patrick Totty was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in July, 2003.

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