Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Forgiveness and reconciliation will be needed

We who have been thinking about the health benefits of Low Carb have, understandably, been acting a bit like a guerilla force with language like "we have to attack the (fill in the blank; drug companies, organized medicine, Food Pyramid or Myplate, etc.). We tend to make disparaging comments about our physicians and how they are stuck in the past, don't read the medical literature, etc. (We also attack each other for not sticking precisely to whichever Paleo church we belong to: safe starches vs low carb, dairy vs no dairy, sprinting vs high intensity weight lifting, etc.  That is for another day!)

Yes, I'm a physician and former scientist but also am a believing Christian and something shocking came to me over the weekend.  Have you ever thought what an emotional bombshell it will be for my colleagues to change their minds to Low Carb/Paleo? How much forgiveness will it take?

For years or decades, we (I include myself) have been dispensing bad advice. Yes, our intentions were good (well, mostly good; see this post) but we all know which road is paved with good intentions, right?  Good intentions and five bucks will get you a Venti at Starbucks.

For me to accept that I've potentially harmed, or maybe even killed, many patients in my past would be an incredibly bitter pill to swallow. This is not a purely intellectual problem; the emotional resistance to letting this in could be quite striking for many people.

Even worse may be the policy makers, who have affected FAR more people than any individual physician. Congress rushed to judgement. The population became sick and fat. Diabetes is now estimated at causing nearly a quarter of a million deaths annually, just in the US. Over forty years, that might be 10 million deaths. That does not count the excess deaths from metabolic syndrome sufferers who don't quite become diabetics. For comparison, the CDC estimates 440,000 smoking related deaths annually.

A case could be made that the misguided high carbohydrate low fat uncontrolled experiment inflicted on us by well meaning but badly educated leadership killed as many of us as cigarettes, as many as Adolf Hitler executed.

A message of forgiveness and reconciliation will HAVE to be part of our communications. The emotional barrier may well be stronger than the intellectual barrier to bringing rational diet back to the human race.


  1. Color me cynical, but I doubt many bureaucrats and politicians lose any sleep about the nutrition policy decisions they may have made in haste. For them, it's all about the paychecks and perks.

    BTW, you're on my Paleo Diabetic blogroll now.


  2. I just found your blog (from Jimmy Moore's blog) and I've read all of your posts this morning. Everything you say makes sense. But I have tried this type of eating three times now, and somewhere between the 5th and the 9 th day I become so dizzy and severely lethargic. Bread cures it. I know you can't diagnose from afar, but do you have any idea what might be happening, assuming I'm following Atkins, Schwartzbein, etc. as they outline their programs?

  3. You are in the midst of fat-adaptation on those days. If you feel like trying again, one of the most common changes that helps a lot of people is to increase your salt intake. I still, a year and a half later, salt my food heavily and drink some salty chicken broth most days. We're talking a couple of grams of sodium daily. The low fat, low sodium physician community will shriek with fear if they hear this by the way. If you have sodium dependent hypertension, which is actually unusual, be careful and creep up on it. When you fat-adapt, your kidneys decrease your blood volume by dumping sodium which you need to replace. This is why the Masai in Africa drink so much blood--sodium is a high demand food out in the wild. See if that helps. Also go to Jimmy Moore's forums and there are lots of people who will weigh in on this topic. good luck!

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