Dr. Neal Bernard & his theory of "Reversing" diabetes - My rant

By PRP Latest Reply 2010-08-09 11:52:48 -0500
Started 2010-07-30 11:03:59 -0500

After a long time I finally met with a diabetic educator. The delay was because of insurance details. By that time I had researched and educated myself as musch as possible, thanks to all the really wonderful people on this site. By the time I met him most of the things he talked about was already old news and I was already doing most of the stuff. And also had a good feedback after my first follow up (A1C went down from 6.4 to 5.4). But one thing he gave me was a hand out for "Dr. Neal Barnard's program for reversing diabetes : the scientifically proven system for reversing diabetes without drugs" caught my attention. I had already started to read Dr. Bernstien's book so I promptly went to the library and and got this one too and started reading. What are your opinions on his theory?

I know the title is more sensationalism to sell the book. But what are your opinions on his lipids theory ? If you are really in the beginning can we really reduce the insulin resistance to a bare minimum if not completely make it go away? Has any one tried it and has it worked? The more I research diabetes the less confidence I have on the entire medical profession. They should stop calling it "medical sciences" and start calling it "medical arts". There is nothing scientific about medicine. Everything seems to be an opinion based on conjecture. I have never come across this situation in all the "scientific" education I have received, where 2 + 2 might be something other than 4 depending on which expert comes up with an answer. This brings up the question what is the unequivocal truth when it comes to treatment ? The only thing certain is that I have diabetes and when I eat carbs and sugar blood sugar levels goes up and when I don't they don't. When it comes to treatment I do not get the same level of clarity I want i.e that 2 + 2 is always 4 no matter what. How do you all come to terms with this vague uncertainity when it comes to treament/"reversal"/control?

29 replies

groucho333 2010-08-08 15:54:26 -0500 Report

Although I haven't seen Dr. Dick (Richard) Bernstein for about sixteen years, it was he who discovered my diabetic retinopathy some 24 years ago. He sent me to a Retinologist who explained that diabetic retinopathy only gets worse, never better. That has been proven incorrect. I had hemorrhages in both eyes, so close to the macular (center of vision), that the Dr. did not want to risk laser treatment.

I no longer have retinopathy. It was reversed by the treatment of Tight Control. Luckily (or because I wanted to avoid blindness) I am very disciplined. I'm planning to live to 105. I am now 83 and loving life.

Choose what you really want. Be passionate about caring for yourself and enjoy.
Whatever you do, don't ever say " so, I'll live 5 years less". If you do, you will (or even less).

PRP 2010-08-09 11:52:48 -0500 Report

Congrats and Thanks for that wonderful story. I only read his book and I am already amazed by him and his theories. I bet he is even more impressive and passionate in person. I am trying my best to do what he preaches within the confines of my restriction (vegetarianism). I wanted to control it entirely thru diet and looks like I might have to jump to his level 3 (Diet +exercise + oral insulin sensitizing or oral insulin mimetic agent). It took a while to accept the fact that I cannot be in level 2 (diet + exercise). Now that the denial phase is complete I have to just talk to the Doc and start on metformin.


imsuzie2 2010-08-01 05:43:31 -0500 Report


I was amazed that you said you didn't know anything yet your first follow-up A1c went down from 6.4 to 5.4…you are already doing things right! I can't get over the great advise members here have…I don't think any advise has been wrong. Most of us will say something like"in my experience" or "what works for me"…a kind of trial and error. And, I think you already see how we support one another.

I have the hour PBS Dr Neal show saved on my TIVO, but only watched about 20 minutes so far. I think his message would better serve us if it was not "reverse" but "control so well, your numbers are like those of a person without diabetes". I think a diabetic who does not really much might think I reversed diabetes and never have to think about it again. WRONG.

Welcome to the community and thanks for the thought-provoking questions and observations.

PRP 2010-08-01 07:37:10 -0500 Report

Don't get me wrong. I have done enough reading and researching on the pathological part of the diabetes to understand "why" it is happening. I fully understand that the "what" is happening in my body. Knowing those things has helped me greatly in understanding and accepting the fact that I am a diabetic and it was not all my fault (putting on weight and not exercising was entirely my fault). So I am not depressed or blame myself that I am diabetic. I deal with it the same way I deal with all my other physical aspects, balding and being only 5 and 1/2 feet etc etc. It is my genes so no point in worrying about why it has to be that way. I usually deal with how to overcome it. Like saying "Bald is beautiful" or saying I don't have a haircut expense or get a ladder etc. That is where my frustrations are. I know I have to control it and I know if I don't I will not live long enough to see my grand kids weddings. My kids are 9 & 4 , so you see I have some really long term goals and I want to reach them. So I have started making some changes on the "my faults" part of it. I have lost 35 lbs and went from "changing channels" as my only exercis to strength training and tabata cardio for 6 days a week. What I am struggling with is the other part of the equation. Diet & medication (whether to take it or not to take it). Being a vegetarian already limits my choice too. And this is where my bewilderment, confusion and frustration are stemming from. I guess I have to keep reading and researching and listening to all the wonderful and really helpful people here and some time in the future I will
overcome this too.

Thanks for the kind words.!!


imsuzie2 2010-08-03 02:58:41 -0500 Report

PRP, I think you are still in the learning stages, and it will be trial and error for awhile. I take 1000 mg of cinnamon each nite to help lower my morning test #, and it works for me. This last week I have been running in the high 1teens, with one 126, which was scary. My am BS is usually in the low 100's or mid 90's. I recently cut my Actos in half, and my doc said not to be surprised if my numbers go up a bit, so I am not really panicking.

My diabetic educator suggested taking 1 meal for 3 to 5 days and test before that meal, and either 1 or 2 hrs after. The target after meal # is 50 pts 1 hr after the meal or 30 pts after 2 hours. You need to test before the meal for the constant and the upward movement tells you how that meal effects you.

I still say that drop you had from the first test to the 2nd is fabulous. 6 months ago my A1c was 6.0 and it went to 6.1 being on 1/2 Actos. I still take 500 mg Metformin after breakfast and dinner. My breakfast is usually 2 slices of low carb wheat bread, a slice of cheese and chicken, tuna, egg salad…cuz I don't like breakfast and need to eat it on the drive to school.

Kirla has great ideas, Skip has it under control, as do KD, Mays, Gabby and others. Remember what works for one may not work for another, we we all have ideas to help.

I am so impressed with what you are doing, and can't wait to hear the results of your next A1c. S2

SkipT 2010-07-31 20:49:54 -0500 Report

I am a Bernstein advocate. I have followed his program for over 4 years now. I lost over 50 lbs on his program and have kept it off for over three years now. I was also able to get my self off of metformin and actos. I have been med free for over 2 years. People say the program is tough, but things that are worth something usually require commitment. I am committed to stay healthy and alive with all of my body parts as long as possible.

kdroberts 2010-07-31 21:05:18 -0500 Report

Bernstein and Barnard are very different doctors with polar opposite methods to treat diabetes. I agree with Bernstein in principle, very low carb diet, not for me personally 100% but I do take from him. Barnard advocates a low fat, high carb vegan diet which I do not agree with at all. I think its quite telling when you see Bernstein is a diabetic and endocrinologist while Barnard is a psychologist.

PRP 2010-08-01 07:49:27 -0500 Report

That was the first book I read too. And I try to follow that where I can but it is kind of difficult to do that because of the fact that I am a vegetarian and I cannot do the levels of carbs he prescribes. Since you are following his regimen for a long time may be you can answer my predicament. If I am asking too many of those please ignore me. Most of my post meal number are around 120 - 130. But the only exception is the after breakfast numbers and to some extent fasting ones. My after breakfast one usually shoot up to 130 - 140 and my fasting ones are in 110 - 120 range. As of now I am not taking any medication. My dilemma is do I have to start taking metformin to control the Fasting and after breakfast numbers ?

Looking forward to you take on this.


SkipT 2010-08-01 16:45:03 -0500 Report

Dr. Bernstein indicates that breakfast is the worst meal of the day as far as BG is concerned. That is the reason he only recommends 6 grams of carbs. Most of the time I actually eat half of that. My other two meals are fine. My post prandial number for breakfast never goes over 119.

Crashnot 2010-08-02 12:25:05 -0500 Report

So I'm not the only person who's as high as a kite after breakfast? I so love my breakfast carbs, but it seems like I eat even a bit and my sugar goes up 100 points. I eat the same thing in the afternoon or evening and it isn't even a blip on the radar. Guess I'll have to start cooking up the fresh eggs our free-range hens are starting to lay!

PRP 2010-08-02 13:09:37 -0500 Report

I don't really like breakfast at all. But I have started eating breakfast after I was diagnosed mainly because I was told that I have to have frequent smaller meals at regular times. I can go without BF until I take lunch. Is skipping BF a good thing or a bad thing? I would like to add that just because I skip BF I don't think I will start gorging at lunch. I usually an take early lunch @ 11:00 because my day starts at 4:30 AM with a 15- 30 min exercise.


Kirla 2010-08-02 13:25:58 -0500 Report

When I wake up I have a low carb (2 net carbs per serving) protein drink and for a mid morning snack I eat one once of sunflower seeds with a cup of coffee or tea. Seems to work for me. I found that it doesn’t matter if I eat or not, my blood sugar will go up, so I figure I might as well eat something. As long as I keep the carbs down I don’t spike too much.

GabbyPA 2010-07-31 09:14:33 -0500 Report

Your ultimate question is how do we deal with the uncertainty of our treatments and I can only say one day at a time. I find some general rules that apply to me and do my best to keep them in mind. However, there are so many extenuating factors that cause a rise or fall in our levels it is nearly incomprehensible to think that we could control what our creator made our bodies to do for us. These unlimited variations will never allow us the mathematical result. It is all theory and investigation. And it is a daily experiment that sometimes does get really old. It just proves to me the incredible complexity of our own bodies when they are working correctly. It does all those adjustments without a conscience thought, just naturally. Now THAT is what's amazing.

PRP 2010-07-31 19:50:10 -0500 Report

May be the relative "newness" of this maybe my frustration. I am not yet reached a point of dealing with uncertainties of the treatment because I have not yet come to what "that treatment" is. It has only been 3 - 4 months so I lack the experience of figuring out what works for me and what wont. I am still trying to separate the fact from the fiction. Or more like quackery from science. I am really surprised and confused that the markets sells things specifically for diabetes which have the same or more carbs than regular food items. Glucerna bars for example. I cannot understand how a tiny little bar that packs 12 gms of carbs and less than 1 gm of fiber can be a good diabetic food when a ALMOND JOY Candy Bar snack size has only 11 gms of carbs and 1 gm of fiber. Adding insult to injury the glucerna Bar came as a free sample along with my diabetic supplies.
I don't even want to talk about the different theories on controlling the glucose levels because the discussions on whether to control within a tighter range or control it within a broad range itself seems to be rampant. Some adhere to the strict theory to control between 80 - 120 by any means (like Dr.Bernstein) and some have a much more relaxed levels (like AACE bit more lax, or ADA which is even more lax). So the confusion for me is what is my goal here? If I go by Dr. Bernstein's theory highs of more than 120 start causing damage even if they occur as infrequently as once a week or I don't have to worry about it at all until I reach 140 according to AACE or maybe even 180-200 according to ADA. Even my pea brain says not all of them are correct. As I see it my options are be a paranoid person and control it to less than 120 by hook or crook and be stressed out all the time in doing so or adopt a blasé attitude and don't worry about a thing until it goes beyond 200.
I guess I need more experience under my belt to deal with all these uncertainties. I never really understood the phrase "laughing at the face of adversity" until now. I am amazed at the positive attitudes of a lot of people here. gregsteele , kirla, kdroberts, MAYS, you, petals, harlan, RAYT721 come to mind. These are only a hand full of people out of many. Please donot get offended if I did not include a lot of other names. I hope someday I will be like one of you. Until then time and again I will get on my soap box and will be shouting. Please bear with me. I guess it is time to get off my soap box. Thanks for all the kind words and most of all thanks for listening.


GabbyPA 2010-08-01 17:56:12 -0500 Report

I guess what I am saying, and I guess you will not like it, is that there is never a point where we really figure it all out. Our bodies change, our circumstances change, our diets change, our activity levels change....

We are our own guinea pigs and we experiment with it every day. What worked for me today may not work a week or a year from now. It is constant. That is why we are always on watch. Our meter tells us so much of what is going on. But it cannot tell us why. We have to figure that out and one little thing being different will cause a different reading.

So we steal a little from one person, add a dash from a doctor, sprinkle in some common sense, and then close our eyes and say "enee-meanie-minie-moe" This is one reason I encourage journallling and not just food and exercise. Journal your emotions, the situations that happened that day or even week. Journal the weather, work issues, and other stresses. Journal the family times, the time of the day and when you are trying something new...anything new.

Take notes from the books you read, journal how you incorporate them, adjust them and find ways to make them work for you. Patience is also needed, because you have to give your body time to adjust to your new things that you are trying. Just doing a food test one time is not enough. You have to keep trying it until you are convinced of how it works for you.

It is frustrating. It is time consuming. It is worth every effort you put into it, because it will grant you better health.

PRP 2010-07-30 12:17:47 -0500 Report

I don't get the joke. I guess I have to look up who Dr Neal Bernard is. It seems to touch a raw nerve in so many people. I just heard about him. Kind of curious why he has such an effect on people who responded thus far. (Scurries away to google Dr Neal Bernard) .

kdroberts 2010-07-30 12:33:15 -0500 Report

Pretty much his entire philosophy is based around his personal belief in all things vegan. He is a member of PETA and pushes their beliefs into his treatments. His basic diet for a diabetic is a low fat, high carb vegan diet.

PRP 2010-07-30 13:03:49 -0500 Report

After googling a bit I found out about his connection to PETA and the relationship between his organization and PETA. This shows how using a polarizing figure takes away the merit in any discussion. My main point of the thread was how people deal with conflicting and often vague and unscientific "remedies" for diabetes. Now I see how that whole point was completely lost and the entire focus was on a polarizing figure.
On a side note I am a vegetarian by birth, culture and religion but let me just say I just don't like PETA and their propaganda. I don't want everybody to become vegetarians due to a very selfish reason too. If everybody became one, the natural plant and fruit reserves would be gone in a heart beat and there would be famine and such all over. So I am very thank full that different people like different things and this results in a much more harmonious world.


kdroberts 2010-07-30 13:28:19 -0500 Report

"My main point of the thread was how people deal with conflicting and often vague and unscientific "remedies" for diabetes. Now I see how that whole point was completely lost and the entire focus was on a polarizing figure."

I don't think it was lost. You did exactly what anyone should do when they come across vague and unscientific "remedies" for diabetes, research it and make your own mind up based on the information you get. Really, that applies to everything related to diabetes, scientific, medical or whatever. Research and make your own mind up.

Mama Dee
Mama Dee 2010-07-30 12:10:20 -0500 Report

Happy day,

I agree w/all of you I am LOL my opinion is not well ok so no comment as MAYS has said.

Working 4 Jesus, & Loving it.

kdroberts 2010-07-30 11:13:27 -0500 Report

I won't tell you what my opinion of Dr. Neal Barnard is, it will probably get deleted!

gregsteele 2010-07-30 11:19:54 -0500 Report


Denise56 2010-08-01 00:11:34 -0500 Report

i have been reading a book called Reversing Diabeties but not sure if it is the one you are talking about , the MD who wrote it also wrote Reversing Hypertenision and Heart attacks

Denise56 2010-08-01 00:16:09 -0500 Report

guess it is same book i was a little skeptyical when i starting reading it but i could almost be vegan but i love milk and steak, lol

Crashnot 2010-08-02 12:27:30 -0500 Report

Is that the book by Julian Whittaker? I found most of his advice very reasonable. It's helped both my type 1 and my husband's type 2 very much.

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