You may be wondering how a couple of physicians who specialize in weight loss in a relatively small city in Middle America devised a nutritional program that works as well as this one does, while most of the scientists in the major universities are headed off in the opposite direction, puzzling over why their success with low-fat diet plans has been so minimal. In a nutshell, we lucked out. We lucked out because that's how science works. Science progresses because people continue to question why. Researchers propose hypotheses based on their understanding of the natural world and then test them--and most of the time these theories blow up in their faces. The lucky ones stumble onto the hypotheses that turn out to be valid. But of course there's more than luck involved because as Louis Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind," and in our case our minds were prepared by many years of clinical practice with patients suffering all the illnesses that are heir to disordered insulin metabolism as well as by our unique combination of medical interests. Mike is a collector of diet books and old medical texts and has a strong interest in paleopathology and biochemistry; Mary Dan is interested in anthropology and has published a book on eating disorders and the deranged metabolic status of eating-disordered patients.
We have a copy of the earliest diet book ever to sweep the nation, Banting's Letter on Corpulence, first printed in the middle 1800s. This restricted-carbohydrate diet worked like a charm for Banting and, if sales were any indication, many others. It has always intrigued us because it completely flies in the face of today's low-fat paradigm. At about the same time we ran across Banting we began attending paleopathology conferences and studying anthropology, where we learned what paleopathologists and anthropologists have known for years: the agricultural revolution and the increased consumption of carbohydrates it brought along with it played havoc with the health of early man. Mary Dan's extensive study of eating disorders and metabolic hormonal derangements combined with Mike's interest in biochemistry rounded out the "preparation" of our minds. We looked at Banting's success with carbohydrate restriction along with the paeopathological/anthropological data showing a decline in health acompanying an increase in carbohydrate intake and concluded that maybe the intake of large amounts of carbohydrates wasn't necessarily a good thing. That became our first mini-hypothesis: excess carbohydrate consumption isn't good. But why not?
We knew, as does every doctor, that the immediate effect of carbohydrate consumption is increased blood glucose, then an increased insulin level. We thought that perhaps the increased insulin levels might be to blame for part of the problem. As we studied the medical literature, we found that researchers the world over were finding elevated insulin levels associated with obesity, heart disease, high blood presure, and diabetes--the common diseases of modern man. We also found that the same researchers were for the most part trying to treat these patients by giving them more of the same thing we were begining to believe may have caused the problem in the first place: the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. It made more sense to us that if excess insulin indeed causes these disorders, or at the very least makes them worse, as the increasing mountain of research indicated, perhaps patients would be better off reducing their carbohydrate intake, not increasing it.
We took then as our working hypothesis that excess carbohydrate leads to excess insulin, which leads to obesity, high blood pressure, and all the rest. It fit with the anthropological and paleopathological data and, at least as far as obesity was concerned, with Banting's Dietary theory. We then began to examine this hypothesis from a basic biochemical perspective and found that it worked beautifully. From all perspectives our hypothesis looked good on paper, so we began to test it carefully, first on ourselves, then on patients in our practice. We found that the results were rapid, dramatic, and pretty much uniform--just what we expected based on the underlying science. As we worked with our patients, we continued to refine our techniques, expand our range of dietary choices, and in general collect those little tips and tricks that make the practice of medicine an art as well as a science. We are still learning and refining every day, and, as with any technique that works, more and more practitioners are beginning to use a restricted-carbohydrate diet for their patients and are adding their own unique refinements to the rapidly growing body of data.
This book is arranged in basically the sequence of our own development and refinement of our hypothesis. The first chapters give an overview and an explanation from a historical, anthropological, and biochemical perspective, which should give you the information and explanations you need to become comfortable with these seemingly radical ideas. If you don't care about the "why" of all this, just read "The Bottom Line," the summaries at the end of each chapter. The latter part of the book is a nuts-and-bolts primer on how to implement these nutritional strategies in your own health-preserving and rejuvenation program. (On the other hand, if you'd like to read more, please write to us in care of our publisher, and we'll send you a bibliography.)
You'll find the program in a nutshell on page 155, but please read all of Chapter 10, all about exercise in Chapter 12, and the essential list of vitamins at the end of Chapter 8, in addition to the Bottom Line Summaries.
Will this program work for you? In good conscience, we can only say probably. The reason we hedge a little is because of biochemical individuality--we are all as different biochemically as we are in appearance. Every doctor has encountered patients in whom medicines seem to work in an opposite fashion to that intended, patients who are kept awake by sleeping pills and pass out on stimulants. These and similar experiences keep practiced physicians from ever making blanket this-will-work-in-all-circumstances statements. AlI we can tell you is that in the almost ten years we have been treating patients with this program we have never had a negative outcome. If you're like the vast majority of our patients, you will find the results as striking and life changing as we have and will adopt this program, modified
From the Hardcover edition.