You’ve heard me say repeatedly that a healthful diet should be based on whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables and that the least healthful part of the North American diet is white flour: bread, spaghetti, macaroni, pretzels, bagels, crackers, cookies, pastries. A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health shows that a diet loaded with white flour can cause diabetes (1).

This is very disturbing because the American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics eat a diet based of food exchanges that allow significant amounts of bakery products made from white fluor. As a result, specialists in the treatment of diabetes commonly prescribe an exchange diet and start their patients on insulin or other drugs that make their patients hungry all the time, which causes them to gain weight and require even more insulin. This can eventually kill them. The treatment for diabetes should include a diet that substitutes whole grains for refined flour. The doctor should prescribe Glucophage and Actos, the only drugs that lower blood sugar levels without making a person fat. A diabetic should try to reduce insulin to the lowest dose that controls blood sugar levels.

Why is it important for diabetics to eat whole grains in place of flour? Diabetics often develop horrible nerve damage causing blindness, deafness, loss of feeling, sensations of burning, itching and pain, amputations and kidney damage. Nerve damage is caused by high blood sugar levels which depend on how many calories a diabetic eats and how high the blood sugar level rises after meals. Whole grains draw five times their weight in water to swell the intestines and suppress appetite and they also release sugars slowly into the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high.

By Gabe Mirkin, M.D., for CBS Radio News

Most cases of adult-onset diabetes can be cured just by getting a diabetic to eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet and lose weight. Many late-onset diabetes have high levels of insulin. Their bodies cannot respond to insulin because before insulin can do its job of driving sugar from the bloodstream into cells, it must first attach to insulin receptors, little hairs on the surface of cells. Being fat and eating fat reduce the number of insulin receptors, so that more insulin is needed to do the same job. JAMA 1997 (Feb 12); 277: 472-477.