Pricking fingers to check blood glucose, downing pills every morning and evening, and injecting insulin–these are daily routines for over 350 million people who suffer from diabetes worldwide. Many more are prediabetic.
Before now, it was generally believed that diabetes cannot be cured; that once diagnosed with diabetes, one can only manage it to prevent the complications that arise from poorly managed diabetes including blindness, kidney failure, leg ulcer leading to amputation and increased risk for stroke, etc. I too subscribed to the belief that diabetes could not be cured until a few months ago when my sister, A, added me to a closed Facebook group that promotes a diet high in fat and low in carb as, among other things, a remedy for diabetes.
At first, I was skeptical of the group which markets itself primarily as a weight loss group. For months, I watched from the sidelines, questioning, analyzing, and trying to poke hole in their theory that consumption of food low in carbohydrate and high in fat (hence LCHF) will help one lose weight. At the same time I was a skeptic, I watched the testimonies pour in: people losing 10kg in the first month, infertile women conceiving, and even better, people with diabetes reporting that LCHF lifestyle was helping them control their blood sugar. One testimony stood out: an Igbo man whose blood sugar reading was in the 400s and who was taking three different diabetic medications reported that his blood sugar had normalized since he resisted the temptation to eat rice, pasta and beans, essentially, all food high in carbohydrate. Of all the good news reported as LCHF successes, the part about LCHF reversing diabetes got me interested the most because of my family’s medical history.
So I started digging and researching on other websites and forums. I read countless testimonies from people in U.S., U.K., Sweden, etc testifying that they got off their diabetic medications simply by eating a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates. Did I mention that my sister lost weight on the lifestyle that even my rather reticent father commented on her weight loss and how well she looked? I also listened to and read testimonies from at least five doctors who testified to how LCHF had either helped them stabilize their blood sugar or helped their patients stabilize theirs. I became a believer. After some research, I realized that it makes sense that LCHF helps normalize blood sugar.
The Science Behind It
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A blog entry cannot do justice to this topic. This is just an attempt to get everybody who might benefit from it to pick interest and read up further to see how it works. But here is a simple explanation for it as written in Dietdoctor.com the leading online resource for those who want to reverse diabetes naturally without relying on medications to manage it. The website is founded by a Swedish medical doctor, Andreas Enfeldt who is an LCHF advocate.
“The problem for diabetics is that the body has difficulty keeping blood sugar levels down. The blood turns too sweet. So where does sugar in the blood come from?
Sugar in the blood comes from the food that we eat. The foods that turn into different types of sugar as soon as they reach the stomach are called carbohydrates. This means sugar (as in soda, fruit juice, candy) and starch (as in bread, pasta, rice and potatoes).The starch, in for example bread, is broken down to glucose in the stomach. When glucose enters the blood stream it’s called blood sugar.
The more carbohydrates we eat in a meal, the more sugar is absorbed into the blood stream. The more sugar that’s absorbed into the blood stream, the higher the blood sugar will be.”
The explanation makes common sense; if you don’t take sugar or food that gets converted to sugar in the body, you won’t have too much sugar in your blood.
But if one dispenses with carbohydrate which we learned from primary school is the class of food responsible for giving energy, how can the body function without fuel? That is where high fat comes in. The body can use fat as a source of energy in the absence of carbohydrate, a state I understand is called ketosis. So when we eat a lot of fat to compensate for the absence of carbohydrate, the body adjusts by using up fat to produce energy. Just as a car can function using petrol or electricity as a source of energy, so can the body function using either carbohydrate or fat as a source of energy.
What to Avoid Under an LCHF Diet
This website and other resources sum it up as follows:
Sugar including those in soda, ice cream, etc.
Sugar substitutes including those in diet and zero soda
Flour, pasta, rice, juice, crisp bread, cereals, beans, potato, spaghetti, macroni, wheat, oatmeal,popcorn, noodles or grain foods
Cookies, cakes or crackers
Carrots and other veggies that grow beneath the ground
As a rule of the thumb, always read the contents of ingredients on all products. If the carbs are more than 5g then don’t eat them!
What to Eat Under an LCHF Diet
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Eat eggs. (Eggs are great in all ways! It fills you up and you can vary how you eat your eggs in many ways. You can always have a boiled egg with you in you bag if a feeling of hunger should come about.)
Vegetables including Cabbage, eggplant, cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, etc
Fish and other sea foods
Remember to eat fat!!! This is very important. Add at least 30-50g fat to each meal!
It’s all about natural fats. Organic Coconut oil is the absolute best
Cream, butter, fish, meat, avocado, nuts.
Vegetables that grow above the ground.
This website has the most detailed list I have seen on what to eat. You may want to check it out.
A Word on Fat
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Choose your fats and oils carefully. One of my initial concerns about LCHF was the effect over-consumption of fats may have on one’s cholesterol levels. However, from the testimonies I have read, people who have been on LCHF diet say that it doesn’t affect cholesterol negatively, if anything, it improves it. But this may be because they choose their fats carefully. When embarking on this journey, follow these guidelines as written in this website
Fish (preferrably wild-caught)
Coconut oil (unrefined, extra-virgin)
Olive oil (unrefined, extra-virgin)
Animal fats (preferrably from pasture-raised/grass-fed animals)
Macadamia nut oil
Trans-fats (not naturally occuring)
If you choose to start an LCHF diet, please consult your doctor first if you are already taking diabetes medication because starting the diet while taking the same dose of medication may lead to your blood sugar taking an unsafe dip.
Don’t take excess protein as this, I understand, may lead to a rise in blood sugar anyway because excess protein converts to glucose. Over consumption of protein may also lead to kidney damage. Compensate for the absence of carbohydrate with more fat, not protein. Dr. Sarah’s talk in the link below has a visual graph that drives home this point more than a thousand words can.
Once your blood sugar normalizes by following this lifestyle, you may need to continue with it as going back to the old ways may lead to a relapse and an onset of diabetes. And that is why I’ve used reverse, not cure, in this post.
You may be diabetic without knowing. If you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, or notice symptoms of diabetes including frequent thirst or urination, please visit a doctor to check your blood sugar levels; a stitch in time saves nine.
I am not a physician and this post is based on my research from reading countless articles and watching videos on the subject. Why isn’t the scientific community adopting LCHF as a panacea for diabetes if it is truly effective, you may wonder? The answer is that researches are still ongoing on the subject and some countries have given LCHF a nod as a viable tool for fighting diabetes. Swedish government has certified that LCHF is indeed an effective way of losing weight, and weight loss is a universally accepted strategy for managing diabetes. American Diabetes Association allows this thread that discusses LCHF on its website. Indeed ADA itself recommends to do away with refined sugar and certain carbohydrates, and advises that only 1/4 of the food of one’s plate should come from the types of carbohydrate it approves.
In a way, LCHF merely reinforces what we have always known about eating healthy– vegetables are good, sugar is bad. The only concern will be LCHF recommending high fat when we have always been advised to avoid fat to reduce risk of heart disease. However, if one chooses good fat, which the body will readily use up as fuel anyway, the likelihood of suffering from the effects of over-consumption of fats become minimal.
Here’s another way I see it, even if the fat consumed in a LCHF eventually proves to be bad, should one ignore a proven remedy for what ails them over fear of what isn’t ailing them yet? In other words, if you are driving on the highway and you have a flat tire, do you continue to manage it and not use your spare tire over fear of the spare tire getting bad too. In my opinion, if the body is unable to process carbohydrates leading to high blood sugar, then it seems wise to tap into another source of energy. So while the scientific community continues to conduct a long-term research on the subject, you may want to consider LCHF to treat your diabetes. I read of a man whose leg was going to be amputated because of astronomical blood sugar level but who within months of adopting LCHF normalized his blood sugar levels and got off medications entirely. LCHF doesn’t get any better than that.
For further resources including those from doctors who have testified to the effectiveness of using LCHF to fight diabetes, please see
Dietdoctor.com which in my opinion is the most useful resource online
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ a Tedtalk by Dr. Sarah Halberg who has incredible results using LCHF on her diabetic patients
Tedtalk by Peter Attia, a medical doctor who successfully used LCHF to normalize his own blood sugar and is now an advocate and one of the leading researchers on the subject
Ditchthecarb a website which has testimonials and recipes.
LCHF Nigeria a Nigerian resource which offers guidance and recipes
Obviously, this blog entry is only a summary on the subject. I encourage you to read the above resources yourself and read the comments made on them and you will be encouraged when you see how thousands of people have taken simple steps towards combating a deadly disease.
Disclaimer: The above blog post is not written by a healthcare professional and is written for information purposes only. Please consult a doctor and do your own research before deciding to embark on an LCHF diet or any diet for that matter.
Since writing this post four months ago, I noticed several of the people who read it got here by googling “LCHF Nigeria recipe” or something similar. So I though to give readers the contacts of a Nigerian who is an expert in LCHF; She is a living proof of the benefits of LCHF (both for weight loss and health). Here’s her message:
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