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.