Almost a year ago, I was lying in a bed in the intensive care unit of my local hospital. The day before, I’d gone to the E.R. because my left shin was hurting and an angry red splotch had developed. It was roughly the size of my palm. The doctor gave me antibiotics and a topical ointment but didn’t take blood, and sent me home. Overnight, the infection bloomed. My white blood cell count was frighteningly high, and if I hadn’t returned to the hospital when I did, you wouldn’t be reading this. All this from a scratch on my leg that my dog licked.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2004 during an annual physical. The doctor prescribed Metformin and told me to have a gastric bypass, which I did not do. I eventually developed neuropathy in my feet and lower legs, so when the scratch on my shin became inflamed, I didn’t really notice the discomfort, and wasn’t even aware that my leg was infected. I was lucky to get treatment when I did. The infection came close to causing amputation. And, I’m even luckier that it didn’t kill me.
I was athletic and healthy through most of my life. At 35, I was 6’2”, 203 pounds and doing two-hour aerobic workouts. Three years later, a career change had me traveling up to 300 days a year and eating every meal on the company’s dime. I ballooned up to 300 pounds. Being away from friends and family, emotional eating, and free food all took a toll on my body. But the job kept me very active and I was still able to do strenuous work that my thinner friends couldn’t do because of their inactivity. I thought I was heavy, but healthy.
In my 20s and 30s, I tried a variety of healthy diets, from vegetarian (four years), to lower calories and more exercise. The second one worked for me when I was only 30 pounds overweight, but I’ve since learned that a person with 30 pounds to lose is far different from someone who needs to lose 90 pounds or more. It’s not as if you just need to stay on the diet three times as long. The reasons for that much weight gain can differ dramatically and those reasons aren’t necessarily being addressed just by lowering calories and increasing exercise. Different problems require different solutions.
Intermittent Fasting and Type 2 Diabetes
My wife she recently reviewed a book called The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Dr. Fung is a Toronto, Canada-based nephrologist. After writing his first book, The Obesity Code, Dr. Fung realized the need for a follow-up book on diabetes. His current and historical research is thorough and his course of action for solving the diabetes code is working for his patients. I read it, too, and I’ve decided to become one of Dr. Fung’s followers and test out his intermittent fasting eating protocol. In the case of intermittent fasting and Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Fung has shown you can heal yourself.
As a busy person, I’ve never minded when an event or activity was cancelled, because that was just one less thing I’d have to fit into my schedule. Well, here’s an eating plan that works the same way. Instead of complicated plans of food preparation, or eating replacement meals, bars or shakes, Dr. Fung presents an eating plan with less to do. Don’t eat. Much less food prep is involved, and when you do eat, you may be quite happy to prepare it since you’re only dealing with one or two meals a day instead of the standard “three with snacks” mentality.
Dr. Fung learned through studying various types of bariatric/weight-reducing surgeries that symptoms of diabetes were eliminated. This inspired him to seek ways to reduce and eliminate symptoms through fasting and without surgery. The theory is that, by not eating, you lower your glucose, so the body’s insulin levels are also lowered because there’s no need to produce it. If your body, for a time, is running off of stored energy in fat, insulin isn’t involved in that process. After allowing your system to rest when you are fasting and by eating a low carb+higher protein+healthy fat protocol, you will be improving the body’s response to insulin and keeping your glucose numbers in the normal range.
So that’s what I’m doing. My wife gave me Dr. Fung’s book and I was so impressed with his research, historical examples, and approach, that I decided to commit to improving my diabetes health, losing weight, and sharing the experience. I don’t think it’s going to be easy right off. Luckily, I don’t have a lot of heavy lifting in my line of work anymore, but it will prove a huge “heavy lifting achievement” to get past the first few weeks of sugar detox, creating new habits, and avoiding trigger foods and temptations.
My goal is to follow Dr. Fung’s intermittent 30-hour fasting plan (there’s also a 36-hour plan) combined with his recommended eating plan. I’ll be logging my experiences, successes and failures, how I felt during the fasts and when eating, and what my numbers were for my weight and glucose readings. I’ll report back with my results after I’ve completed a month on the plan. Wish me luck and fast fasts!