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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Review: The Diabetes Code

The Diabetes Code is Jason Fung's book about the root cause of diabetes and his cure, which he claims to be incredibly effective, in some cases curing people of diabetes in as little as 2 weeks.

The thesis of the book is that Diabetes is always and everywhere an Insulin phenomenon. The idea is that insulin secretion causes fat storage while lowering blood sugar. The problem with adding more insulin to this system is that it makes you fatter, increasing insulin resistance while not solving the root cause. The solution, therefore, must come in reducing fat, which initially might not decrease blood sugar levels, but in the long term should reverse diabetes.

Fung's proposal for curing and reversing diabetes is the intermittent fasting diet: once (or twice, or three times) a week, don't eat for 24-36 hours, drinking only water (or other no-calorie drinks, but he recommends avoiding artificial sweeteners as well, though for no documented reasons). The idea is that within the first 8-12 hours your body will deplete the glycogen stores and then be forced to burn fat. Now this isn't a crackpot diet: Dr. Fung insists that you avoid carbohydrates in your diet even when you're not fasting. This isn't a license to eat chocolate and drink fruit juice on the days when you're not fasting.

Fung contends that diet and exercise by itself doesn't work. (Strangely enough, it seems to work for me!) Basically, nobody in the general population can keep up an exercise program, despite well-known studies that note that being unfit is even worse than being diabetic! If that's you, then Fung's intermittent fasting program (in either the 24 or 36 hour form) is something well worth trying.

All through the book are scattered case studies of people who've cured themselves of diabetes. I'll note that all of them conform to the Western model: fat, out of shape, diabetic. None of them conform to the Asian model, where normal BMIs can still lead to diabetes! This is expected, as Dr. Fung works in Toronto, where there's presumably a shortage of Asians that he can reach in his practice. I would love to see Dr. Fung practice on people who do exercise, have normal BMIs, and aren't already diabetic.

All in all, the book makes a convincing argument, but I'm not a medical doctor. In any case, given the prevalence of intermittent fasting in traditional cultures, if you're diabetic, intermittent fasting probably can't do much harm and might be worth discussing with your doctor.


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