Addictive, Low-Fat Cornbread

Corn is a great food for human beings. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many corn­bread recipes con­tain cow’s milk and lots of fat. Some of the low-fat veg­an corn­bread recipes pro­duce a prod­uct that is too dry. This recipe makes corn­bread with a gold­en brown crust (thanks to the sug­ar and the cast-iron pan) and a moist and ten­der crumb, thanks to the apple­sauce.

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Yet Another Silly Study About White Rice!

If you look at arti­cles about East Asian coun­tries in issues of Nation­al Geo­graph­ic from the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, you will notice two things. One is that many of the peo­ple in East Asia were eat­ing a lot of white rice. The oth­er is that only the rich peo­ple and the sumo wrestlers were over­weight. That’s because the rich peo­ple and the sumo wrestlers were eat­ing some­thing besides rice and veg­eta­bles.

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Why I Think the Paleo Diet Is Silly

Late­ly, many nutri­tion gurus have been pro­mot­ing what they call a “paleo” diet. The word “paleo” comes from Pale­olith­ic, which lit­er­al­ly means “ear­ly stone age.” They think that human beings ought to be eat­ing a diet like the diet that peo­ple ate dur­ing the ear­ly stone age. Per­son­al­ly, I think that the argu­ments in favor of the paleo diet are sil­ly, for sev­er­al rea­sons. I think that the appeal of the paleo diet is based on ado­les­cent male fan­tasies of being an unwashed, unshaven big game hunter who gets to spend time with a hot-look­ing maid­en in a fur or leather biki­ni. Real men don’t eat quiche. They eat bron­to­burg­ers:

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Low-Fat, High-Carb Diets Reverse Insulin Resistance

Dr. George Lund­berg, the for­mer edi­tor-in-chief of JAMA, gra­cious­ly invit­ed me to coau­thor this edi­to­r­i­al on how starchy, low-fat diets reverse insulin resis­tance!

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Can You Get Too Much Omega 3 Fatty Acid?

Late­ly, many peo­ple have been claim­ing that fish is health food. The Amer­i­can Heart Asso­ci­a­tion and the Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion urge peo­ple to eat fish. Yet if peo­ple fol­low that advice, they’ll still be at risk for heart dis­ease and dia­betes and they might increase their risk for can­cer. The omega 3 fat­ty acids in fish oil can end up in the fat­ty deposits that clog people’s arter­ies. Like oth­er fats, they pro­mote insulin resis­tance. Also, eat­ing too much omega 3 fat­ty acid could pro­mote can­cer by sup­press­ing the immune sys­tem.

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Peace on Earth, Even Though War Sometimes Cures Diabetes

Dur­ing the Siege of Paris in 1870, a French phar­ma­cist named Bauchar­dat noticed that the health of dia­bet­ics was improv­ing while every­one else was suf­fer­ing as a result of food short­ages. That’s because the most com­mon form of dia­betes is type 2 dia­betes, which the French call dia­bète gras, or fat dia­betes. Type 2 dia­betes rep­re­sents the body’s attempts to resist gain­ing too much weight on a fat­ten­ing diet. If the weight gain is solved by eat­ing few­er calo­ries, then the type 2 dia­betes improves.

World War I pro­vid­ed insight into anoth­er way to deal with type 2 dia­betes. Even though Den­mark was neu­tral dur­ing the war, its grain sup­ply had been cut in half by the Atlantic Block­ade. To pre­vent the grain short­ages from caus­ing wide­spread star­va­tion in Den­mark, the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment devel­oped a rationing plan. Instead of peo­ple feed­ing the avail­able grain to ani­mals and then eat­ing the ani­mals, the gov­ern­ment decreed that most of the food ani­mals should be slaugh­tered imme­di­ate­ly and the grain be fed direct­ly to the peo­ple. It also decreed that grain should not be used to make alco­hol. The Danes could eat as much bread and pota­toes and cab­bage as they want­ed; but their intake of meats, fats, and alco­hol was severe­ly restrict­ed. Not only did this rationing plan pre­vent star­va­tion, it improved the over­all health of the Dan­ish pop­u­la­tion so much that Den­mark enjoyed the low­est record­ed death rate in its his­to­ry.

I don’t know how much of the low­er mor­tal­i­ty in Den­mark dur­ing the war was due to a decrease in the rate of dia­betes specif­i­cal­ly and how much to a low­er risk of heart attack or stroke among non­di­a­bet­ics. All of those dis­eases result from the same cause, which is a rich, fat­ty diet. For­tu­nate­ly, I do have data on how wartime rationing affect­ed the risk of death from dia­betes in Eng­land and Wales dur­ing the first half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.


Notice that the risk of dia­betes went up dur­ing times of peace and pros­per­i­ty and dropped like a stone dur­ing wartime rationing. It stayed low dur­ing the Great Depres­sion, when many peo­ple sim­ply couldn’t afford to overeat. The effect of dietary changes was so pow­er­ful that it com­plete­ly obscured the impact of the intro­duc­tion of insulin ther­a­py in the ear­ly 1920s. That’s because the most com­mon form of dia­betes is type 2 dia­betes, which results from eat­ing a fat­ten­ing diet. Less than 10% of dia­betes cas­es result from fail­ure of the pan­creas to pro­duce insulin.

Low-carb gurus keep telling me that a diet based on grains caus­es obe­si­ty and dia­betes. It’s true that the low-carb diets seem to pro­vide some short-term ben­e­fit for dia­bet­ics. Depriv­ing a per­son of car­bo­hy­drates does make high blood sug­ar go down imme­di­ate­ly, even if makes the dia­betes worse in the long run. If the low-carb diet sup­press­es the person’s appetite enough to cause weight loss, the dia­betes could improve. How­ev­er, this improve­ment would be due to weight loss, not to eat­ing fat and pro­tein instead of car­bo­hy­drates. At the same time, the low-carb diets pro­vide an over­load of fat and pro­tein, which is par­tic­u­lar­ly bad for peo­ple with dia­betes because they are so prone to heart and kid­ney prob­lems. The heavy load of ani­mal pro­tein in low-carb diets would also pro­mote osteo­poro­sis and can­cer, but those prob­lems might not show up imme­di­ate­ly.

The low-carb gurus ignore an obvi­ous fact: dia­betes and many oth­er chron­ic dis­eases are rare in pop­u­la­tions that eat a diet that’s heav­i­ly based on grains or oth­er starchy sta­ples, such as pota­toes. Dia­betes is com­mon only in soci­eties that base their diet heav­i­ly on ani­mal prod­ucts. When a pop­u­la­tion shifts from an ani­mal-based diet to a diet based on grains and oth­er starchy sta­ples, such as pota­toes, the rates of obe­si­ty and dia­betes come tum­bling down. For­tu­nate­ly, there doesn’t have to be a war for peo­ple to make this change in diet. It only takes aware­ness and a new set of recipes.

The good news is that we don’t need to starve our­selves or suf­fer the hor­rors of war to cure type 2 dia­betes. All we need to do is go ape, go wild, and eat plants. Peace on earth!

Pho­to by Kylie_Jaxxon

Note: In my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2, I explain why a high-car­bo­hy­drate diet is good for peo­ple with any kind of dia­betes.

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Scientists Rediscover That Starvation Cures Type 2 Diabetes

Yes, you can reverse type 2 dia­betes if you starve your­self. In fact, a med­ical­ly super­vised water-only fast can be a use­ful way to man­age many dif­fer­ent kinds of diet-relat­ed dis­eases. For­tu­nate­ly, you do not have to starve your­self to reverse your type 2 dia­betes. Instead, you could sim­ply eat a low-fat, plant-based diet—like the pop­u­la­tions that don’t get type 2 dia­betes to begin with.

In June of 2011, some researchers from Britain pub­lished the results of a tri­al in which peo­ple with type 2 dia­betes who went on a star­va­tion diet (600 calo­ries per day) end­ed up with nor­mal fast­ing blood sug­ar lev­els. To me, that is not news. By 1841, a French phar­ma­cist named Apol­li­naire Bauchar­dat was rec­om­mend­ing that patients with what we now call type 2 dia­betes should eat as lit­tle as pos­si­ble and that they should fast occa­sion­al­ly to bring down their blood sug­ar. Since then, how­ev­er, dia­betes researchers have learned that it’s pos­si­ble to reverse type 2 dia­betes with­out such severe calo­rie restric­tion. In fact, I think that it’s bet­ter to teach peo­ple the diet that will enable them to cure their type 2 dia­betes with­in a cou­ple of weeks with­out lim­it­ing their food intake than to set them on a course of yo-yo diet­ing and pos­si­ble eat­ing dis­or­ders.

Bouchar­dat was one of the first clin­i­cians to put patients in charge of mon­i­tor­ing their own dia­betes. At first, his patients did this by keep­ing track of what they ate and tast­ing their urine to see how sweet it became. Lat­er, Bauchar­dat worked out a chem­i­cal test to detect sug­ar in urine. From mon­i­tor­ing the sug­ar con­tent of the urine, Bauchar­dat showed that when peo­ple with dia­betes ate sug­ars or starch­es, large amounts of sug­ar passed into their urine. The sug­ar in the urine reflect­ed high blood glu­cose lev­els. How­ev­er, the prob­lem in type 2 dia­betes is not that the per­son is eat­ing car­bo­hy­drates, it’s that the body has become resis­tant to the hor­mone insulin.

Start­ing in the 1930s, sci­en­tists start­ed to real­ize that fat­ty diets made the body less sen­si­tive to insulin, and that this insulin insen­si­tiv­i­ty was the under­ly­ing cause of the high blood sug­ar lev­els in peo­ple with type 2 dia­betes. Peo­ple who went on a low-fat, high-car­bo­hy­drate diet rapid­ly became more respon­sive to insulin.

Start­ing in the 1940s, Dr. Wal­ter Kemp­n­er at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty report­ed aston­ish­ing suc­cess in revers­ing type 2 dia­betes and dia­bet­ic com­pli­ca­tions with a diet based entire­ly on rice and fruit. Patients who found that they were los­ing too much weight on that low-fat diet were encour­aged to add pure white sug­ar to get more calo­ries. In Kempner’s report of 100 patients with dia­betes who were fed his high-car­bo­hy­drate, low-fat, low-pro­tein diet, most of the patients decreased their insulin dos­es and many dis­con­tin­ued tak­ing insulin. (It’s like­ly that some of the patients had type 1 dia­betes and there­fore would need to keep tak­ing insulin for the rest of their lives.)

The Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion cur­rent­ly rec­om­mends that peo­ple with type 2 dia­betes eat lim­it­ed por­tions of foods from all of the four food groups. In 2006, how­ev­er, a clin­i­cal tri­al showed that the peo­ple who were ran­dom­ly assigned to eat as much as they liked of low-fat, unre­fined plant foods (75% car­bo­hy­drate by calo­rie) found it eas­i­er to stick to their diet, lost more weight, and made faster progress in revers­ing their dia­betes than did the peo­ple who were ran­dom­ly assigned to fol­low the ADA’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Behind Barbed Wire_PrintNote: In my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2, I explain the rela­tion­ship between body weight and blood sug­ar. French doc­tors have always used the term fat dia­betes (dia­bètes mai­gre) to refer to the rel­a­tive mild form of dia­betes that occurs in peo­ple who are at least a lit­tle bit over­weight and that goes away if they lose weight. Fat dia­betes is the body’s way to avoid stor­ing too much of the fat from a fat­ty diet. If you have fat dia­betes, it means that you are a nat­u­ral­ly thin per­son. It means that your body is will­ing to sac­ri­fice everything—your feet, your eye­sight, your kid­neys, and even your life—to keep you from gain­ing any more weight. The solu­tion to this prob­lem is to switch to a low-fat, high-car­bo­hy­drate, high-fiber diet. This diet revers­es type 2 dia­betes and is also good for peo­ple with thin dia­betes (type 1 dia­betes).

Scientists Know that Fatty Diets Cause Blood Sugar Problems

There’s a huge dis­con­nect between what sci­en­tists know about diet and what ordi­nary peo­ple are being taught about diet. Most peo­ple seem to think that peo­ple get dia­betes from eat­ing too much sug­ar or starch. How­ev­er, the sci­en­tists who wrote this arti­cle seem to think that it’s com­mon knowl­edge, at least among sci­en­tists, that peo­ple get type 2 dia­betes from eat­ing too much fat.

Behind Barbed Wire_PrintNote: To learn how fat­ty diets cause blood sug­ar prob­lems, read my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2.

Wild Animals Don’t Count Calories or Sign Up for Step Aerobics

Have you ever seen an obese wild ani­mal? Look at these wilde­beests in Krüger Nation­al Park in South Africa. There’s no cel­lulite on their thighs! Wilde­beest weigh only 40 pounds at birth, but then they gain weight rapid­ly. By the time they’re a year old, they weigh about 200 pounds. The females reach a peak weight of about 350 pounds at 4 years of age. The males peak at 500 pounds at 5 years of age. Yet after that, their weight stays remark­ably sta­ble. Why do they stop gain­ing weight? Since they don’t start count­ing calo­ries or tak­ing step aer­o­bics class­es in adult­hood, they must have some built-in mech­a­nisms that reg­u­late their weight nat­u­ral­ly. Do humans also have in-born weight-con­trol mech­a­nisms? If so, why have so many peo­ple been get­ting so fat late­ly?

To keep our body weight at a nor­mal lev­el, we are told to engage in unnat­ur­al behav­iors. We’re told to eat less and move more. Yet wild ani­mals nev­er lim­it their food por­tions, and they do only the amount of activ­i­ty they feel like doing. I think that their secret for stay­ing slim is that they eat the kind of food that is appro­pri­ate for their species. If you trapped some wilde­beest in a pen and fed them a diet that was much rich­er in calo­ries than what they ate in the wild, they’d prob­a­bly get fat. That’s what has hap­pened to human beings in indus­tri­al­ized soci­eties. To cure our weight prob­lems, we need to escape from our cubi­cles and start eat­ing a more nat­ur­al diet. Go play out­side, and eat low-fat unre­fined plant foods instead of eat­ing ani­mals and processed foods.


When you look at pop­u­la­tions all over the world, you’ll notice that the peo­ple who eat a diet based on unre­fined plant foods stay nat­u­ral­ly slim and remark­ably free of heart dis­ease and dia­betes and oth­er chron­ic dis­eases. For many gen­er­a­tions, most of the world’s pop­u­la­tion ate like that. Only the rich could afford to eat large serv­ings of rich foods, such as meats and but­ter and hon­ey, on a reg­u­lar basis. As a result, only rich peo­ple suf­fered from obe­si­ty, gout, and ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis. Because of agri­cul­tur­al poli­cies, those foods have now become cheap while fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles are still rel­a­tive­ly expen­sive. As a result, the “dis­eases of afflu­ence” are now a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem for poor peo­ple in the Unit­ed States.

Pho­to by h.koppdelaney

Behind Barbed Wire_PrintNote: In my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2, you can learn more about how a low-fat, high-fiber, high-car­bo­hy­drate diet helps peo­ple lose weight and revers­es their type 2 dia­betes.

Starchy, Low-Fat Diets Reduce Deaths From Type 2 Diabetes

Here is an inter­est­ing arti­cle that was pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Roy­al Soci­ety of Med­i­cine in 1949. It points out that type 2 dia­betes is com­mon in places where peo­ple eat a fat­ty, low-carb diet and rare in places where peo­ple eat a starchy, low-fat diet. When a pop­u­la­tion that had been eat­ing a fat­ty diet switch­es to a starchy diet, such as under rationing in wartime, the num­ber of peo­ple who die of com­pli­ca­tions of dia­betes falls off dra­mat­i­cal­ly. See the graph on page 324 to see the effects of rationing, eco­nom­ic slump, and the intro­duc­tion of insulin ther­a­py on the num­ber of peo­ple who died of dia­betes in Eng­land and Wales in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry.

The author point­ed out that you can see the same rela­tion­ship between high fat con­sump­tion and deaths from dia­betes all over the world:

There thus seems to be a uni­ver­sal rela­tion between diet and dia­bet­ic mor­tal­i­ty. The dietet­ic fac­tor most close­ly relat­ed is fat con­sump­tion.

It may seem odd that the intro­duc­tion of insulin ther­a­py didn’t make a dent in the graph.  That’s because most peo­ple with dia­betes have type 2 dia­betes, which used to be called non–insulin-dependent dia­betes. You’d see a dif­fer­ent pic­ture if you looked at a graph of deaths from type 1 dia­betes, which used to be called insulin-depen­dent dia­betes.

Note: For a clear expla­na­tion of why high-car­bo­hy­drate diets are good for peo­ple with any type of dia­betes, see my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 2, Cure Type 2.

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