Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Recommendations

That Nice Girl I Married and our daughter who is visiting from Utah took off for the weekend with a bunch of women in our ward, so I had a lot of time to read, and read I did.  I read two books on diabetes that I can now highly recommend.

The first is Blood Sugar 101 by Jenny Ruhl.  Jenny Ruhl also has a web site by the same name, but I found the book much more accessible.  She advocates the low carb diet and gives specific blood sugar guidelines to strive for.  Her book lists all of the possible drugs to treat type II diabetes, and the strengths and drawbacks of each drug.  Perhaps the most useful part of the book was the section on physicians.  She deftly describes physician attitudes towards diabetes and suggests that if your physician doesn't live up to a list of criteria, it's time to get a new doctor.  She made me realize that my doctor, an internist, is out of date and out of touch with type II diabetes.  I need a new doctor.  She also mentioned how a type II diabetic who actively manages and controls the disease needs a letter signed by your doctor about your treatment plan, in case you are ever hospitalized, as they will put you on the insane high carb, low fat diet that is the exact opposite of what you need.  Plus take away your diabetes management tools (blood glucose meter, drugs, insulin) while you are in the hospital and, Because They Know Better, treat you the way they always treat diabetes.  Which is to say, very poorly.

The second book I read was Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars.  A very interesting, if somewhat dogmatic book about the management of type I or type II diabetes.  Unlike other books, this one strives to get you to normal blood sugar levels, the type that non-diabetics routinely achieve.  This means HgA1C levels in the 4.2 to 5.0 range.  His solutions work, though he did come across as a bit insistent and dogmatic ("use this chart and these abbreviations in this way....") but I learned a tremendous amount about managing the disease, the drugs used to treat it, insulin therapy, exercise, and diet.  He, too, recommends a low carb diet for the management of both types of diabetes.  His recommendations boil down using a blood glucose meter aggressively and following as many of the following four steps as it takes to achieve normal blood sugars:

1.  Follow a low carb diet (and lose weight).  For some, this may be enough to normalize blood sugars.
2.  Get plenty of anaerobic exercise, mostly resistance training (weight lifting).
3.  If the first two aren't enough to manage type II diabetes, use drugs
4.  If the first three aren't enough, use a consistent, low dose of insulin

The book has tremendous details for each of the steps mentioned above.

After reading the two books, I was left with one big question: why didn't any of the physicians I have used over the past ten years know this information?  I have consistently been given the wrong information about treating type II diabetes.  How can a non-M.D. like Jenny Ruhl, who also writes bodice ripper romance novels (under the pen name Jenny Brown), know so much more about managing the disease than any doctor I have used?


  1. Cont...The internet provides options, and it makes alternative solutions available to anybody who's willing to do the research. I think a similar thing has happened with the natural birth movement. Women are starting to want a say in how their baby is born because they have an informed opinion about it and they've read the studies.

  2. cont 2...I think the internet is changing the medical field. People can get high quality, sometimes cutting edge, information about the disease they have, and they will choose to base their lifestyle accordingly. I think that physicians will begin having to keep up with new literature or new approaches to what they're treating, or people will begin looking for new physicians. As people demand physicians that are up-to-date and aware of the information patients now have, physicians will appear to fill this demand and will get more and more business. People will continue going to doctors, but their information no longer comes solely from doctors, and physicians will have to keep up.

  3. Interesting point about natural child birth. We will be watching that video on NetFlix you recommended to your sister, The Business of Being Born.