We currently find ourselves in very interesting times. On the one hand technology has helped us eradicate many of the diseases that used to ravage our world. On the other hand technology has been equally responsible for our modern day chronic health issues such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Fortunately, there is a revolution occurring that is recognizing the importance of our external and internal environments, their impact on the our gut health, and, therefore, the impact on our overall health.
I’d like to begin this series with a case study of my oldest son, Liam, and how we went from a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes to a full recovery in two months. In four months his HbA1c went from 9.5 down to 5.6. He also regained the weight that he initially lost and continues to gain normally in height and weight. At the time of this writing, 6 months after his diagnosis, he remains non-medicated and completely healthy with an average non-fasted glucose level of 96.
(Update, we are now 2 months shy of 2 YEARS since initial diagnosis and he remains free of medication with an glucose levels averaging in the 80s. And, yes he DOES have elevated antibodies to human insulin as any diabetic would.)
So as not to keep the reader in suspense, I would like to summarize the steps that we followed:
- We immediately reduced the load on his pancreas by reducing his carbohydrate intake favoring healthy fats and proteins
- We helped calm and regulate his immune system with:
- daily Vitamin D,
- by removing foods that he tested as being sensitive to (IgG),
- by addressing a candida yeast infection that was discovered and
- we used daily omega-3 fatty acids to reduce systemic inflammation.
There certainly was more to it than the above steps so please continue to read the rest of the articles in this series where I will elaborate in much greater detail. Please keep in mind that this is simply to educate. I am in no way claiming that all cases of diabetes or other autoimmune diseases can be completely reversed as everyone’s situation is unique.
However, I do believe that by following a methodical process based on the most up to date scientific research on nutrition and healing modalities, one’s chances of achieving greater levels of optimal health can be vastly improved well beyond what typical medical standards currently settle for.
Our story begins on September 3rd of 2015 when our son, Liam, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Our family rarely ate fast foods, never drank sodas, sports drinks or fruit juices. We favored organic and non-GMO foods and avoided artificial sweeteners. Although admittedly lacking in vegetable intake, we were fairly discerning in the types of snacks that we would allow and kept sugar intake to moderate levels.
Suffice it to say that as our diet was certainly better than the average Standard American Diet, and, no one in our families has ever had the disease, a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes came as quite a shock to us. Up to that point, aside from asthma (which he had grown out of and the general topic of which we will discuss in great detail in a future post), Liam was an apparently healthy 8 year old child.
Two weeks prior to his diagnosis we had spent several days in Northern Michigan. As the trip wound down to an end, the whole family was experiencing minor allergy issues such as runny noses. Upon returning home, Liam’s symptoms persisted and worsened into a persistent cough. Over-the-counter allergy medication did not relieve his symptoms and, after developing a fever of 103, a local allergist treated him with antibiotics and an oral steroid for croup.
As his outward health returned back to normal, we were surprised by another unexpected physiological issue. He suddenly began wetting the bed. As it had been very hot and given the fact that he was a very active child, we rationalized that he was either overly tired at night and/or consuming too much water throughout the day.
The bed wetting continued, though, and he developed an unquenchable thirst. Although initially in denial, my wife Lisa, being a Registered Nurse, recognized the telltale symptoms. After a few days had passed with no change in symptoms she immediately arranged for him to be brought to the medical facility where she was working at the time. Thankfully, my mother, Gail, was able to bring him, as we were both working.
Our fears were confirmed with a fasting blood glucose reading of 246! By the time we got to his pediatrician his blood glucose was 377 (it was also noted that he had lost 5 pounds which is a lot for a child his age)!
At that time we were instructed to immediately admit him to a local hospital. Once there his glucose was checked again…over 500 now! We were very fortunate to have recognized the symptoms early and seek prompt treatment before he had experienced even more serious symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, nausea, confusion or coma.
While in the ER waiting to be admitted, another important blood test was measured called HbA1c (also referred to as Hemoglobin A1c or simply A1c). As I want to keep this blog science based yet simple enough for anyone to follow, I’ll give an uncomplicated explanation of this important blood marker. This is a valuable measurement to understand if you or a loved one are diagnosed with diabetes.
Red blood cells live for approximately 8-12 weeks at which time they are replaced with new cells. During that time your blood glucose levels (blood sugar) rises and falls throughout the day. When the body processes sugar, some of it “sticks” to the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar is on average, the greater the HbA1c, or the amount of sugar stuck to the red blood cells during their 8-12 week lifespan.
Notice how this is different from a blood glucose level. Your blood glucose level is the concentration of glucose in your blood at the specific point in time that you measure it. Your HbA1c tells you your overall average glucose over 8-12 weeks.
An HbA1c measurement of between 5-6% is considered normal whereas 6% or higher is indicative of diabetes. The day Liam was admitted to the hospital his HbA1c was 9.7%. Upon learning of the significance of this important blood marker, I knew that this would also be a highly relevant way of measuring the success I hoped to achieve in restoring his health.
As we continued to wait in the ER, the gravity of the situation began to set in. We did our best to try to comfort our son but in the back of our minds was a deep sadness and concern for the future of Liam’s health. Optimistically, I also started to wonder just how permanent this disease was and what, if any, success there had been in terms of “cures”.
Four to five hours passed in the ER. Eventually we were taken to a room in the pediatric unit. The basis behind admission for diabetes is twofold: to make sure the patient’s blood sugar has stabilized and to provide teaching. The patient and family are taught about the nature and physiological mechanisms behind diabetes as well as how to care for the patient on a daily basis once back home.
It is at this point that I have to bring up some difficult issues regarding the shortcomings of our modern health care system. However, I must first exclaim how grateful I am for its strong points, such as emergency medical treatment as well as for all of the caring and giving individuals who work long and often stressful shifts within our medical treatment centers. It is not a stretch by any means to say that where modern medicine shines is in trauma, acute infection and other surgical and emergency procedures. As for chronic disease, on the other hand, sadly there is much room for improvement.
Getting back to the hospital admission, the standard process is that the patient would be admitted for typically four days. We were in the hospital for only two days as, fortunately, my wife and I have backgrounds in the medical and health fields (she is an R.N. and my bachelor’s degree is in Exercise Science). During the hospital stay you are taught how to monitor glucose, calculate insulin dosages, how to administer insulin injections, and, lastly, some dietary guidelines which, in this author’s opinion, are disturbingly rudimentary (for MUCH more on this topic see part 2).
I must say that my heart goes out to anyone going through this. It is very stressful and quite overwhelming at first. I feel particularly sympathetic for those who have no background in science or medicine and for those who have poor math skills. In fact, the same weekend that we were admitted, there were FIVE other children admitted to the pediatric unit as newly diagnosed diabetics. This is an alarmingly high number indicative of the declining health of our population. To this day I often find myself compassionately pondering how those children are faring.
In regards to the teaching that was provided, I should like to give credit to the staff in terms of delivering the material that they themselves had been instructed to cover. The staff was very caring and considerate of our situation. Regarding the insulin dosage calculations and injections in particular, I will spare the details, but the teaching process was very thorough and designed to ensure that we left the hospital with confidence that we could monitor and control Liam’s blood sugar.
When it came to the dietary aspect, however, this is where things fell apart. With no disrespect to the Registered Dietitian (she did her best in parroting what she was indoctrinated in), I immediately began to wonder if the purpose of the dietary guidelines was to GUARANTEE that the patient would be dependent on injected or infused insulin for life.
The expectation that my wife and I held regarding diet was that there would need to be radical changes and that it would be very difficult to not only subject a child to those changes, but also to get him to adhere to them. And, mind you, this is coming from a place where we were already eating better than what I regarded as average.
I was very shocked to find that we were taught the exact opposite of our expectations. Not only were we told that it was “ok” for Liam to keep eating the way he was currently eating, but if we actually followed the advice we were given, in some ways it was worse than our current eating habits. Everything that we thought we should be avoiding we were being told was ok as an underlying message began to unfold; as long as we counted his carbohydrates and took an appropriate amount of insulin, diet was only marginally important.
In fact, my shock turned to outright offense and disbelief when the head pediatric endocrinologist visited to conduct his teaching session. At one point, he actually said “it’s ok, you can still have your McDonald’s, you can still have your fries…”!!! He must have noticed the stark change in my countenance as I said, “Well, wait a second…we don’t eat those things to begin with!” At that point he backpedaled and began to elaborate that he and his family do not eat fast food either nor do they even drink juice.
It was then that I started to consider the thought that “wow, this guy has one set of standards for himself and another for his patients!” As I said, the take home message was “count your carbs and take your insulin.” While that plan may prevent death, it was certainly not a plan for achieving optimal health. I knew from that moment on we were on our own or at least had to look elsewhere if we were to find a way of restoring our child’s health.
Upon returning home from the hospital, and after getting the family settled in, I immediately popped open the laptop and began researching, determined to cure my son. Admittedly, it was quite discouraging at first as there was so little information on curing type 1 diabetes and what little I found was sketchy at best, so I dug deeper.
I was already familiar that metabolism can be impacted by a number of things such as nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, stress, environmental toxicity, gut health, and hormonal imbalances. I still did not have a plan or a cohesive enough thought process and, because of that, I am very thankful for my friend and Registered Dietitian, Samantha.
In chatting with her about Liam’s situation, she mentioned that in autoimmunity you need to consider three things: genes, immune regulation, and environment. That was a tremendous help to my research as it provided the cohesion in thought that I needed!
Using that information and Google Scholar as my jumping off point I pored through the medical literature.
In the upcoming articles in this multi-part series, beginning with diet in part 2, I will cover one-by-one each step that we took along with references that will provide support to our methodology in the sincere hope that others can learn from our experience and apply it to the healing of themselves or their loved ones who may be suffering from diabetes or other autoimmune disorders.
As you continue reading about our success, please bear in mind that our methodology was employed in the acute phase at the time of diagnosis. I do not purport that the same results can be expected by those suffering from chronic type 1 diabetes long after destruction of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. With thatbeing said, if the information that follows was instituted as standard protocol upon diagnosis, I wonder how much future suffering, illness and death could be prevented…
The topics that will be covered in subsequent articles are as follows (links below that are clickable are complete whereas the others are in progress and will be posted soon):
- Part 2 – Macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats)
- Part 3 – Vitamin D
- Part 4 – Omega-3 fatty acids
- Part 5- Probiotics
- Part 6 – Candida yeast overgrowth and colloidal silver
- Part 7 – Food sensitivity testing (IgG)
- Part 8 will be medical research review paper written for health care practitioners showing how that the methodology we followed is substantiated by over a decade’s worth of research
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