Monday, January 01, 2007


COMMENTS on GI Newsletter, January, 2007
AND COMMENTS on Tholzel who comments directly on the Newsletter posts.

First, my “comment principles” on medical matters.

1. I’m finding that primary research is so thin and hidden, so poorly understood by the media interpreters, that it would be a mistake to act on all the things that “may” pertain. I only passed the first half of Introduction to Statistics and am hopelessly innumerate (My checkbook never balances.), but even I can see that through strategies like putting everything in terms of percentages we are often radically misled. “100%” increase in something often means two out of a hundred cases instead of one, or something on that scale. Sometimes if you look at percentages instead of numbers, nonsense ideas like a half-a-person turn up.

As a consciousness-raising exercise, I read where the posts are heavily peer-reviewed by number-hip people. Things that seem convincing to me are sometimes derided and totally demolished with analysis.

2. I test everything against my own experience, which is atypical since I’ve careened across social class, educational level, disciplines, and geography. Sometimes it means nothing at all, but I myself act on it and am prepared to report what consequences I can perceive. Of course, if I were any good at it, I wouldn’t have Diabetes 2.

3. Much of my beef with medical news is sociological. That is, the discipline is socially priviledged to the point of arrogance, far too interested in money to really care about patients, and so scientific and lab-oriented that it has attracted a lot of -- shall we say -- “cold” people. They have separated themselves from ordinary folks so far that understanding is lost. Resistors are demolished. (Of course, this appears to be our culture norm.)

4. On the other hand, nice warm quacks abound. A sympathetic bedside manner often replaces real skill.

So -- my comments alongside those of Tholzel, who is “masked,” which means an automatic 10% debit in his credibility. (My rules.)

The points to address were suggested by Dave Lull. The original GI Newsletter comes from the University of Sydney in Australia. Most of the Glycemic Index interest and research comes from Australia where medicine is evidently less controlled by pharma-food industries. (The ones that sell prepared foods so you can eat stuff just like the bad stuff you used to eat, but purportedly “okay.”)

GI Newsletter:
"Dr Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes":

"I hope you will also review and compare Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's
book "Diabetes Solution--the complete guide to achieving normal blood sugars." Dr. Bernstein says just the opposite of Dr Barnard -- that fat is an important part of nearly eliminating carbohydrates in order to return to normal blood sugar levels.”
Any doctor who puts his name on a plan is automatically suspect. It’s not medical info then -- it’s a marketing plan.

GI Newsletter:
"Does sugar cause diabetes?":

"It makes little sense to say that over-indulging in sugar for a few weeks proves excess sugar ingestion doesn't give you type-2 diabetes. T2 Diabetes doesn't come on in a few weeks--it takes half a life time of a pancreas being battered by a continual wash of excess sugar for it to eventually break down.
The question is medically irrelevant and misleading. It is the public that is misled. Around here, they still call it “sugar diabetes,” but the problem is far more complex and could just as justifiably be called something like “leptin malfunction” or the rather useful “metabolic syndrome.”

GI Newsletter
“Eating almonds is a good way to maintain a low GI diet.”

“Except they don't want you to eat salted almonds. What they don't say is that there is no GI difference between salted and unsalted almonds. The anti-salt posture is an entirely different--non-GI prejudice.”
It’s nice that almonds help, but they only HELP and only a little. You don’t eat salted almonds because the salt makes your blood pressure go up and somehow that’s part of the same “metabolic syndrome as high blood sugar.

Another commenter:
At the bottom of some people being able to get away with eating lots of sugar, or of salt, or of any other food: individual differences, which thinking about led me to see: the benefit of some amount of self-experimentation before buying the "results" of research, especially when those results include a "take this drug" recommendation.
I quite agree that personal differences and local differences and even things like quantities, timing, co-eating other foods or exercise habits all have impact. The beauty of today’s situation is that we’ve got those little sticks and beepers that give us objective quantified feedback. It’s too easy to say, “Oh, I can eat ice cream because I feel okay afterwards!” Check the numbers. Also, by eating damaging foods but “only a little bit,” one might be using up reserves that might be needed in case of a major health challenges.

Another interesting phenomenon comes up in this exchange, which is that some anti-fat sentiments have nothing to do with high blood sugar levels, but are cross-overs from another category of food choice guides having to do with the humane treatement of animals. In other words, the suggestion that eating free-range chickens or being a vegetarian or vegan will heal diabetes. My own physiology needs lean meat (and I mean at least partly red meat) and a certain amount of fat, including vegetable oil.

I often think of a parishioner in Saskatoon who was a medical doctor herself and who had been thrown into near-paralysis and painful arthritis after being accidentally sprayed by a mosquito-control airplane. One of the rather “edgey” doctors at the University of Saskatchewan put her on nothing but sterile water and basic amino acids, then over weeks and weeks added back ordinary foods and kept careful detailed records of the results. It took a year for her to accumulate a short list of foods she could eat without bad reactions (not always foods one would predict as “healthy” at all!) , but the symptoms were much abated and she could go back to work. It was drastic, high-labor, and brave -- but it worked. It might not have. I wonder what has happened to her since.

Now -- it’s forty degrees and the sky is clear, but the footing is slick and the wind is blowing hard. Do I have the moral force to make myself go for a walk?

No comments: