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In recent years the ketogenic diet has been studied more and more, with scientists determining the beneficial aspects of the diet for a number of disease pictures. Among epilepsy, dementia, obesity, mood disorders and many more, one condition that seems to respond very well to the keto diet is Type II Diabetes. It responds so well that in fact, many doctors and scientists have declared it should be the first line of attack against the disease, with medications and other lifestyle changes playing second fiddle in more difficult cases.

But that doesn't mean it has anything like mainstream acceptance. Quite the opposite. Recently the Department of Veteran Affairs announced a partnership with Virta Health Corp., a company that has been using ketogenic interventions for Type II Diabetes to great success. This, of course, brought out the professional nay-sayers, claiming (without evidence) that the diet is dangerous, that simply by trying this intervention the VA is irresponsibly lending legitimacy to a fad diet that will ruin people's health.

On this episode of Objective:Health, we take a closer look at the keto diet and its promise for Type II Diabetes. Is there any legitimacy to the haters' complaints?

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Running Time: 00:22:58

Download: MP3 — 20.6 MB

Here's the transcript of the show:

Doug: Hello everyone. Welcome to another action packed episode of Objective:Health. {laughter} I am your host Doug and with me in the virtual studio are Elliot and Tiffany.

Tiffany: Hello.

Elliot: Hello.

Doug: As always in the background on the ones and twos, holding things down is Damian.

Damian: Whatsapp? {laughter}

Doug: Alright. I'll give a little background here. There was an article that was put up on USNews.com that said "As VA tests keto diet for diabetic patients, skeptics raise red flags and it's about how the Department of Veteran Affairs has partnered with a silicon valley start up called Virta Health Corp. and what they're doing is introducing the keto diet to veterans who have type II diabetes. As with any mainstream article about the keto diet, despite them giving the good news that they're actually going to be testing out this diet which, as we've covered many times on this show before, is very effective for type II diabetes and not just type II diabetes, they of course had to quote from multiple dieticians and doctors who don't know anything about what they're talking about, about how dangerous this is and how it's incredibly irresponsible of the Department of Veterans Affairs to even consider doing this just by doing this study, which isn't actually study, it's a trial to see how it works, it's irresponsible because it lends legitimacy to this horrible, awful, dangerous diet.

So we thought this would be a good entry point to talk about the keto diet for type II diabetes. Like I said, we've talked many times before on this show about the keto diet. We're big fans. From all of the research that we've done, when you come across an article like this you're just slapping yourself on the forehead because we've come across so much research on the benefits of this diet for blood sugar control, among many other things, and to still have people out there in the mainstream talking about how dangerous it is and how everybody's going to clog their arteries and die as soon as they start doing this diet...

Elliot: Yeah, it's almost criminal.

Tiffany: It is criminal!

Elliot: Anyone who goes into pubmed, types in ketogenic diet, there are thousands, thousands of clinical trials showing benefits of this and that's both animal studies, human studies for a variety of different conditions, particularly diabetes. Diabetes is one of the first things that a ketogenic diet is and should be used for. It almost seems like it's disingenuous, right? Virta Health, if you look at the organization, it's made up of world experts. You've got Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek. Those guys really did a great job of actually bringing the ketogenic diet to the forefront in terms of the public eye kind of thing. They've written books about it. They've done clinical trials. I'm pretty sure that those guys have helped their patients achieve clinical remission from diabetes on probably by now, thousands and thousands of different cases.

So they have got a clean track record, backed up by science, by physiology, by clinical research. There's very little argument now that anyone can present. It seems like it's just backlash. It seems like the powers that be, the financial structure, the big ag, whatever you want to call it, big food that wants to sell junk food, crappy carbohydrate, sugar {laughter}, high refined sugar, get people doped up on their products, it seems like they cannot allow this to become public knowledge because when that happens, there's going to be a major backlash.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah, it's tough to believe that people still think this way after all these years and all the n=1 and the anecdotal reports and the published scientific studies, that so-called professionals still have this mindset that keto diet can be dangerous. You'd think at this point in the game after this many years, if you're still holding onto that line, you're being purposely malicious or you're the biggest idiot there ever was that walked the face of the earth because obviously you don't even open a book or a newspaper and your curiosity can't be sparked to actually pursue the literature and you call yourself a professional.

Doug: Yeah.

Elliot: Or you've got some kind of funding...

Tiffany: Yeah, exactly.

Elliot: ...some kind of financial tie there, Nestle or Coca-Cola or something like that and you'd be surprised how many dieticians or MDs who are really famous, kind of thing, how many of those are actually sponsored by these companies that sell sugary pop, who sell cereal bars, who sell all of this kind of junk food.

Doug: Yeah. That's certainly one angle for sure. I think that the entrenched system is so entrenched that any evidence that runs counter to it is just attacked maliciously. But there's also this whole plant-based diet thing and the keto diet - despite the fact that they say there is a vegetarian version of the keto diet, I'm a little skeptical on that one - the ketogenic diet does fit within that plant-based paradigm at all.

Tiffany: Right.

Doug: And that is a major force to be reckoned with right now. The amount of corporate backing that the planetary health diet, the EAT Lancet study, all those kinds of this, are big money. They're big money. All these people think that the vegetarian diet or the vegan diet is a grassroots movement and it's gaining traction just because of success rates and its popularity, all this kind of stuff. No. That is a corporate diet that is being pushed by corporate entities and the ketogenic diet is the polar opposite of that. A lot of people will say it's funded by the beef industry. Well, maybe there's some money floating around there from the beef industry or something like that, but it does not compare to the corporate interests that are behind trying to push people into plant-based diets. It's night and day. There is absolutely no comparison there.

So if you really want to look for a grassroots movement, the keto diet is it versus this plant-based nonsense.

Elliot: There's a lot of problems - this is kind of off-topic but it's tangentially related to what you just said - with this idea that vegan, vegetarians or plant-based advocates would generally throw in this argument that you're getting funding from the meat or dairy industries. But if you look at the meat and the dairy industry, the profit margins, in comparison to grains, to soy, to sugar, to these processed foods, you can make a lot more money off of vegan alternatives, off of impossible burgers, off of grain, than you can off of meat and dairy, right?

There's only so much profit that can be gained by growing cows, farming meat and actually milking the meat and then making some cheese or selling the milk. There's only so much profit that can be made there and they do all that they can with the factory farming and everything, yeah. They do all that they can to bring down the costs, but actually when you look at grains, that is significantly more profitable and you can see, as you just said Doug, the major corporate players are well invested in the agriculture, in the grain stuff, in the vegan stuff because they see there's a lot more money to be made there.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. One of the biggest contributors to the EAT Lancet - I don't want to call it a study because it's not a study - propaganda piece, was Barilla and that is a major pasta empire, a massive pasta empire. Do you think they want to see people eschewing grains to go on the keto diet and help their type II diabetes? No, they don't want to see that.

Tiffany: They'll keep a private ranch for themselves in Montana {laughter} where they can grow their own steer and eat their meat.

Elliot: This is not only this one organization, Virta, based in the United States that's doing this kind of thing. You've got these grassroots organizations popping up everywhere. You've got one in the UK. It's actually called diabetes.code.UK and they launched something called the low carb program. So last time I checked there were 433,000 people who had been utilizing this low carb program. Essentially this is very much a grassroots organization. The founder of this organization was diagnosed with type II diabetes and he wanted to know what to do about it.

So he actually learned about low carb and ketogenic diets and he's built a resource, a large organization now, and they've been lobbying for the NHS, the national health service in the United Kingdom to trial run this low carb program. So actually now there's a system - and they've done an amazing job - they've actually got a system whereby NHS doctors, health professionals, can actually refer on to this program and you should see! They've been achieving diabetes remission in so many cases. They've built apps. The response has been unparalleled in terms of the benefits, compared to the average response of, "Okay, limit your fat intake" because that's generally what a diabetic is told to do, "Limit your fats, limit your refined sugar, but you can eat as much grain and bread and starchy potatoes and pasta, as you want."

That was the conventional advice and actually what you end up with is diabetics gradually having to up their metformin, they up their diabetic medication load until their pancreas eventually shuts down so they then have to go on to using insulin. The problem is in the UK, unlike in the US, it's government funded. It's a national health service. So actually the amount of money that this is costing the NHS is an abomination. So there's people like these individuals like Virta Health are saying, "Look, we are spending unreal amounts and people are experiencing untold suffering all for nothing! We've got good evidence and good track records." Again, it's completely orthogonal to the plant-based or vegan nothing because it's very much meat-based. But actually the proof is in the pudding.

Doug: Yeah. Or in the steak. The blood pudding. {laughter}

Tiffany: Well speaking of proof, do we want to talk about the American Diabetic Association's president?

Doug: CEO.

Tiffany: Yes. She came out and said that she has been able to manage her diabetes with diet and she came off of all her medications for type II diabetes as well as her insulin. But something tells me {laughter} considering the climate that we live in and the fact that this is the American Diabetic Association, she won't be the president for long, now that she has outed herself. That's just my guess.

Doug: Well I hope that that isn't true but...

Tiffany: I hope that it's not true, but yeah.

Doug: Her name is Tracey Brown and she has come off her insulin and three other medications. Apparently she's on a fourth but she's very close to coming off of that and said that she should be off of it - I don't remember exactly what she said - but by the spring or the summer because I guess she's probably tapering down on it or something like that.

But that is another huge win for publicizing this diet. The CEO of the American Diabetes Association is low carb!

Tiffany: So is this signalling a sea change in how diabetes is going to be treated? Are they going to allow this to happen?

Doug: I don't know! They put her in charge. {laughter} Maybe they didn't know.

Tiffany: Maybe they didn't.

Elliot: It sounds like that's something that she'd like.

Tiffany: Yes.

Elliot: She did an interview with Healthline and this is to quote her, she says, "When I speak with people who are living with diabetes I believe we're coming short of truly meeting their needs. That pierces my heart. We have an opportunity to step up in a different way than we have before, to be able to deliver on that half of our mission, to help those people with diabetes and their families thrive. There's an opportunity to show up in a different way than we have for that audience."

So she's kind of saying, "Look, what we've been doing all this time, it's not really been working guys. We kind of need to completely scrap it." But the problem is, if I'm correct, if it's anything like the American Heart Association, I'm pretty sure that the American Diabetes Association also gets some of its funding and sponsorships from...

Tiffany: From big food.

Elliot: And people like Coca-Cola, right? I'm pretty sure. I saw at one of the American Diabetes Association conferences for medical doctors, I'm pretty sure it was sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Tiffany: So I'm questioning how they can let this come about. It goes against their entire business model.

Doug: Maybe she's going to get taken out.

Tiffany: Oh no, we need to keep her name on our alerts so we can follow what happens.

Doug: Yeah. Even she comes from the corporate world. She was working for Procter & Gamble before. She must know, right?

Tiffany: Yeah. This is very strange. I'm not used to people in positions of authority actually saying things that make sense.

Doug: Yeah, it's true. I wish her all the luck because she's definitely got an uphill battle. As we were just discussing, the system as it is right now and how entrenched it is, I don't know if she'll be able to actually do anything other than act as an example to others and say, "Yeah, I'm controlling my diabetes through diet and you can do that too. Here's what I do." She gives a couple of pointers and talks about how she does count carbs and says when she's traveling she'll get herself a burger and throw away the bun or something. It sounds like more of an Atkins type approach to things than a paleo approach, which is more what we advocate, but baby steps, right? Whatever she can make work.

Tiffany: Yeah. It's not like it takes a miracle to cure type II diabetes. You could even do it doing a sloppy low carb diet sometimes, depending on how long your diabetes has been around, but yeah, it's not rocket science.

Elliot: Of all the health conditions, type II diabetes is...

Tiffany: Is easy.

Elliot: ...almost the easiest thing to reverse within a couple of weeks. You could do it in a month or so. It's very much a temporary metabolic state to really protect cells from energy overload, right? Because if they continue taking in glucose then it could potentially cause really bad things. So actually it's like the body temporarily does choose to cause insulin resistance as a way of protecting itself whereas when you completely take away that energy overload and you take away the excess calories coming from glucose, a fuel source that can't actually be used very well in the diabetic, you give them fat instead, it's just like type II diabetes goes away.

Doug: Yeah, exactly.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Doug: Like flipping a switch. The biggest hurdle, I think is the mind programming that's been going on the last 50+ years against fat and particularly animal fat. I think that's the biggest hurdle that people need to get over. People who are maybe hearing about the ketogenic diet and thinking, "My blood sugar is a little bit out of control, maybe I should do that", it's kind of like, "Well my cholesterol is going to go up. I'm going to get heart disease." It's difficult to undo that programming. No matter how many times you say, "No, we were wrong about the saturated fat. It's fine. It's not going to hurt you. It's actually a very good fuel source and it's actually very good for you", that programming is so instilled that so many people are turned away or turned off of this kind of approach despite the fact that results are miraculous. They're not really miraculous, but they seem miraculous for anybody who thinks they're going to have type II diabetes for the rest of their lives.

Elliot: The problem as well is that the conventional medical system or conventional medicine classifies diabetes as something completely separate from cardiovascular disease. So you could say, "Oh right. Well I could deal with my diabetes but it means that I'll be more likely to have of cardiovascular disease."

Doug: Right.

Elliot: Whereas when you actually look at the physiology behind it, the two are fundamentally interlinked. It's very difficult to have cardiovascular disease if you don't have some degree of insulin resistance and insulin resistance is what underpins diabetes. So really, diabetes is very much a cardio metabolic condition. Cardiovascular disease oftentimes is very much an insulin resistance metabolic cardio condition. They're two very similar things. So if you improve one, it's not likely that you are going to get worse in the other. If people are reversing their diabetes, you can be pretty sure that you're going to decrease your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. That's what the research shows. But okay, yeah, it's breaking free from the kind of programming system and also it doesn't help when you have misinformed, ignorant doctors who aren't really up to date, right?

Doug: Right.

Elliot: They're not up to date with the research and so actually it's very difficult to get through to the average Joe.

Doug: Yeah. And not to mention that it can also help with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, sometimes referred to as type III diabetes. It's really good for the immune system so if that coronavirus starts spreading around even more, you're more likely to beat that if you're on a keto diet. There's so many benefits to it because like you're saying Elliot, all these things are interlinked. All these things are connected. They might have the same etiology, essentially. So there's so many benefits that go so far beyond type II diabetes that it's so foolish to be turning people away from this.

Tiffany: Yeah, don't listen to the haters, even if they are wearing a white coat.

Doug: Exactly. Well, do we have anything else to say about the ketogenic diet?

Tiffany: No.

Doug: We're' coming up on our time here.

Tiffany: I think we can let the ketogenic diet speak for itself.

Doug: Yeah, no kidding! Okay, well thanks for joining us everybody. Be sure to eat your meat and your fat and we will see you all next time on Objective: Health. Be sure to like and subscribe if you are so inclined and we will see you next time.

Elliot: Bye.

Tiffany: Good-bye.