The Starch Solution, and The Blood Sugar Solution?

Just watched "The Blood Sugar Solution" on PBS TV, and read Dr. McDougall's Vegan approach to diabetes.

Both Dr. McDougall and Dr. Hyman have patients who claim to have reduced their glucose levels to the point that they have either reduced or even eliminated the needs for medication. While it's difficult to believe that blood sugars can be reduced by eating more starch, I for one am tired of being sick every day from the side effects of Metformin and Victoza in return for marginal improvements.

Has anyone had or know of any experiences with those or other diet based alternatives to diabetes meds?

Hi Mike, I don't really have any experience with vegan diets but I do know that a reduced carb diet is of great help to a lot of people. Low carb diets such as recommended by Dr Bernstien do work. If you haven't read his book I highly recommend you do so.

Vegan diets to me are a morale choice rather than the solution. You can be successful either way but lower carb is the key.

Gary S

There is the Paleo Diet. All Meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds. as a Type 1 I have much better glucose levels.

Just to clarify, the show you post about applies to T2 diabetes, not type 1. A type 1s need for insulin is absolute, regardless of what diet is followed (the only difference is that some "diets" will result in needing a bit less insulin than others). I just like to clarify this in case some newly-diagnosed person stumbles across this thread.

I have tried the Vegan life style and worked in a Vegan community for several years. It was extremely hard to maintain good BG control and I found that a low carb diet is a superior solution for me. I would say that the Vegan life style is good and their diet is far superior to what many PWD's are eating when first diagnosed, and probably better than a diet recommended by the mainstream diabetes industry.

I have to tell you, any diet that comes from the PCRM or PETA groups raises my concern. I know very well McDougall, he is an avowed animal rights activist and a board member of PCRM which is significantly supported by PETA. Hyman, I know less about.

I've looked extensively into the published research and the vegan diets have virtually no evidence supporting their effectiveness and safety. Sure these doctors have had patients who have improved, but that says nothing about whether these diets work. On the other hand, diets like low carb have numerous high quality randomized, controlled intervention trials showing that they work. Many of these studies can be read in the Nutrition and Metabolism Journal.

If you wish to choose to place animal welfare as the most important priority in your life, above your blood sugar control, then these doctors can help you. But this stuff is not for me.

The dietary recommendations that most helped me were from Richard Bernstein, his book "Diabetes Solution" is widely available. Although he recommends a very strict low carb diet, if you can reduce your carbs well below the ADA recommendations you may well find improvements dramatic enough that you can reduce your medications.

I"m following Diane Kress' Metabolism Miracle, it's a three step program, and for the first 8 weeks, you don't eat any potatoes, rice, things like that. And no fruit. It's working for me, although this is my second try at it, first time in 8 weeks, I lost 14 1/2 pounds, 4 1/2 inches off my waist. Now, in my first week on the program, I've had to cut my glyburide dose in half, and probably in the next few days will discontinue it (with doctor's approval, of course).

I second bsc's comments & also have found no research to support these claims. In order to get sufficient protein on a plant based diet, it has to be quite high carb. We all know well what high carb does to BG. Starch is not the answer. Though not vegan (I ate eggs & cheese occasionally), I was vegetarian for around 30 years before diagnosed T1. Despite my best efforts, I had no control eating vegetarian.

I also recommend Dr. Bernstein's approach & his book Diabetes Solution. I've been following Dr. B's recommendations for close to 4 years.

I don't need a study about other people, I've done my own experimenting. Low carb works great for me for my blood sugar. I don't lose weight on that diet, but my numbers stay consistent. Most low carb vegetables work fine for me, I don't eat much fruit. It defies logic that eating more starch would give you lower blood sugar, doesn't it? Luckily, you can easily find out for yourself.

Interesting responses! I actually attended Dr. McDougall's weekend seminar early Dec 2013. He thinks insulin is "Paralyzed" by fat so recommends plant based, no oils, no nuts diet. I had the same doubts as many of you, but given my glucose level crept despite increasing meds, going to insulin + Victoza, low carb diet and losing weight I decided to give it a try. After reducing my morning readings from ave 172 to 147 by adding 16 units of Levimir with .9 mg Victoza, then going the last 3 weeks on the McDougall diet, my ave has dropped to 112. So I dropped the Victoza and increased Levimir to 18 units. Eating huge amounts of starch, potatoes, pasta, bread, lentils, and no oils. Weight is stable. Further experiments planned to see if it was the absence of fat or the ADDITION of starch that caused the 35 point drop in glucose readings.

1 Like

I would think the Levimir would be a much more effective tool than the starch. I'm going to try to increase the amount of food I'm eating in the next couple of weeks as I don't think the 1500-1800 calories is exactly enough. One of my buddies shared a link to Layne Norton's website that has bunch of videos pointing out that calorie-restricted diets impair (maybe not the right word...) your metabolism and ability to burn fat. I'm hoping that finding the extra calories in stuff like fruit will be easy but I've never been a big fruit eater. I've been "plateaued" at the same weight for a while after dropping about 90 lbs slowly from 2005-2011 restricting carbs, although I never hit the Bernstein ultra-low levels more than a few days.

This is the video I found intriguing and I am looking forward to trying something different and, of course, eating more, although I am not aiming for much, if any, starch. "Metabolic Damage"

I agree with AR that the Levimir probably has more to do with your improved fasting blood glucose numbers than eating huge amounts of carbs. If you are going to experiment with this high carb approach, you should test 2 hours after meals to make sure that you aren't simply spiking very high and then gradually coming down as the Levemir covers the carbs.

I am a type 1, I have been for 33 years.
I was a little afraid to start a vegan diet.
I started following the Mcdougall diet two years ago and haven't looked back.
Not only is it extremely healthy for you but you also loose a lot of weight.
I have lost 70 pounds. I am now in a normal weight range for my height. My A1c is always in an acceptable range between 6.4 and 5.9. My blood sugars are always in a good range to. I highly recommend trying it. It is the best thing you can do for yourself and your health.

1 Like

I have a solid base line of data on the effect of Levimir + Victoza, fasting, after and before meals every day since early Sept. Changing nothing but diet (from a low carb 1200 calories/day diet to vegan, low fat, no oils, no dairy, high starch)my average fasting readings dropped 35 points, AND my post meal readings are improved. (I'm not eating refined carbs or a lot of flour. Just potatoes, corn, beans,some whole grain bread and pasta, etc)

I stopped the Victoza, just taking Levimir after my readings started showing some in the 70's before meals, but readings have trended upwards despite increasing Levimir from 16 to 18 units/day.

My morning readings have always been my highest, it could be that restricting carbs causes my liver to release more glucose during sleep. Or maybe Dr McDougall is correct that fat paralyses insulin.

That is great the vegan diet is working for you. I was thinking about trying that since I was on a vegan diet for a few months but I don't care for tofu and all that stuff for the most part- I bought some recently to try it again and it was just awful- I haven't eaten any of that for a few years. I also just don't think I could handle that level of carbs either. I saw a video documentary on youtube by a woman who is type 1 who was following a raw fruit and veggie vegan diet & who had gotten her c/i ratio to 1 unit per 60 g. I was amazed. I don't remember if she ate any starches like breads and potatoes- I don't think so.

I have actually read his book "The Starch Diet" as well as Hyman's book. Hyman is a little rational, but McDougall is in my view a bit scary. His work isn't based on any science, it is really about "woo." McDougall is a bit like the Tony Robbins of the raw vegan world, people pay big bucks to do his motivation stuff, they get excited and they can see improvements in their life. And studies have shown that almost any diet can help with weight loss in the short term, but diabetes is really a marathon. And in the long term, the book and the literature don't provide any evidence that the starch diet leads to better outcomes (or even good outcomes). All we have a few cherry picked "cases." No observational studies and certainly no randomized controlled trials. Nothing. Nada. Lierre Keith highlights many of the fundamental problems with vegetarian/vegan diets in her book "The Vegetarian Myth." In the end, we all need to make our own choices. If McDougall continues to motivate you to keep good control of your diabetes, that is great. If it motivates you to care about what you eat and get regular exercise, that is a big win. In the end, diet is a personal choice and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa.

You are very wrong about Mcdougall, he works closely with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who has done many studies on heart disease and has found that a plant based diet completely reverses it. There have been many studies done on this very subject. So you should visit Dr. Mcdougalls website and see how many people have reversed their illness's by following this very program.
It has nothing to do with "woo".

1 Like

There are many good recipes out there that aren't tofu. I recommend going to pinterest and typing in vegan recipes and you will find a huge amount of really good recipes. I have to admit I cheat sometimes and have cheese, I consider those my vegetarian days. :)

I'm just eating potatoes, rice, beans, lentils, some bread, Almond milk, turnips, cabbage, brocoli, brussell sprouts, salads with oil free dressing, tomatoes, and occasionally a vegan frozen dinner from Whole Foods. Lots of fruits, which I'd cut back on my low carb diet. Vegetable soups. No tofu, or any of those fake meats. I'm loving it, feel great.

Brian, I, too was and still am skeptical of Dr. McDougall's story.And I'm confused about whether his primary thrust is about the best health solutions or saving animals. But I'm a Physicist and Mathematician by education, so I have to be convinced by data. I'm from Missouri, so I have to be shown. I raised beef cattle and pigs to pay my way through college, so vegan was very repulsive to me. I've followed McDougall for years now before I decided to invest in a weekend to hear his story.

I'm surprised that you think his approach has no scientific base. His paper on diabetes alone references 31 scientific works! The China study is a primary foundation.

I talked with many of his patients who swear that his dietary recommendations have allowed them to stop diabetes meds altogether, but I don't know how many tried and failed. My personal results so far are astonishing,, but I don't know yet if its from low fat or high starch.

One thing I've learned from this 7 year experience with Diabetes is that the medical profession is really screwed up, is serving a lot of other priorities beside our health, including pharmaceutical profits, the food industry $, politicians, etc so you have to watch out for yourself.