Interview with an outspoken advocate of truth in diabetes 2. April 2008 William Davis (6) I stumbled onto Jenny Ruhl's Diabetes Update blog after I received several very insightful comments to this blog whenever I posted a discussion on diabetes or pre-diabetes/metabolic syndrome. Who the heck was this commenter who clearly had deep insight into diabetic issues?It turned out to be Jenny Ruhl, a woman who learned her lessons the hard way: by receiving a belated diagnosis of (an unusual form of) diabetes, then receiving plenty of mis-guided advice from physicians on diet and treatment. Reading her many blog posts and websites, you get the clear sense of how hard this individual worked to gain the depth of knowledge she's acquired, on a par or superior to most diabetes specialists. And she minces no words in expressing her heartfelt and carefully considered opinions. But that's what I look for: people who are unafraid to voice opinions that may not be consistent with the flow of conventional thought, but ring true and prove effective. Dr. Davis: From your blog and websites on diabetes, it is clear that you exceptionally knowledgeable in the world of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and related disorders. Can you give us a little background on how you came to this quest? Jenny: Though I was told I was a "classic type 2" [diabetic] by my doctors, nothing I read about diabetes corresponded to my own experience. I knew my diabetes had not been caused by obesity because I'd been a normal weight all my life until my blood sugars went out of control at which point I developed ravenous hunger and gained a lot of weight very quickly.I also wondered at the huge gap between what Dr. Bernstein said was a normal blood sugar and what my doctors told me was a safe blood sugar for a person with diabetes. The people I met who followed Bernstein's very low carb diet had much better blood sugars and far fewer complications, but my doctors dismissed this as irrelevant. So I decided to do some research to find out who to believe. I plunged into the medical journal articles that had recently been made available on the web to see if I could answer two questions: What causes diabetes? and "What does science actually know about what blood sugar levels damage organs?"The result was the information that became the basis for the Blood Sugar 101 site. Initially, I attempted to sell it as a book, but editors told me that though what I'd learned was "fascinating" it would be "over the head" of the typical health book buyer who wanted simple explanations and if possible, a simplistic slant towards "cure." Fortunately, the very strong response and high traffic volume to the web site proved that, as I had thought, there are a lot of people who do want more than an oversimplified overview and who, given the information they needed, were able to make huge positive changes in their health.Dr. Davis: What do you think your life would be like if you hadn't pursued this unique course?Jenny: Possibly a lot shorter. People in my family die of heart attacks in their 50s, probably from undiagnosed high blood sugars. The pattern of the type of diabetes I have is to have a normal fasting blood sugar and an extremely high post-meal blood sugar after consuming very few grams of carbohydrate. When doctors diagnose using only the fasting blood test, they miss those highs, which research is now finding to be a primary cause of heart disease.I also would have been a lot fatter. My doctors told me that I was packing on 20 lbs a year due to "normal menopausal changes" and that there was nothing I could do about it. Lowering my carbs significantly dropped all the weight I had gained and I still weigh a lot less now than I did in 1998.Dr. Davis: You've been a keen observer of the diabetes scene for some years. Have you discerned any important trends in both the public's perception of diabetes as well as how diabetes is managed in the conventional world?Jenny: The huge difference I see is that, over the last decade, the online diabetes community has learned the value of cutting back on carbohydrates and shooting for truly normal blood sugar levels. So people who put some time into researching diabetes online and talking with those of us who have succeeded in avoiding complications will learn that they do not have to settle for very high blood sugars and deterioration their doctors think inevitable.Unfortunately, the media have put most of their energy into promoting the discredited idea that diabetes is caused by gluttony and sloth and to promoting the equally discredited idea that people with diabetes should eat a high carbohydrate diet and avoid fat.So for now there is a huge divide in the quality of life of those people with diabetes who educated enough to go out on the web and educate themselves and those who get their diabetes information from doctors. Sadly most doctors still encourage patients to eat low fat/ high carb diets, and counter the very high blood sugars this diet produces with oral drugs of questionable efficacy, while assuring patients they will be safe if they maintain blood sugar levels that meet the American Diabetes Association's recommendations, though a mass of research shows these are high enough to produce every single diabetic complication possible.Dr. Davis: I understand that you've released a new book, Blood Sugar 101. How is your book unique in the world of diabetes books? Who should read Blood Sugar 101?Jenny: Blood Sugar 101: What They Don't Tell You About Diabetes differs from other books in that it gives the reader a much deeper understanding of what is really going on in their bodies as their blood sugar control breaks down and what sciences knows about how abnormal blood sugars cause complications. Then it gives the reader the tools they need to find what diet and/or drug regimen will brings their own, unique, blood sugars down to a truly safe level. Unlike some books, this one does not present a one-size-fits-all solution, but recognizes that Type 2 diabetes is really a catch-all diagnosis that covers a lot of disorders that behave quite differently. That is why what works for one person with diabetes may not work for another. Because this book provides details available nowhere else about the physiology of diabetes and the drugs available to treat it, readers will find the information they need to work with their doctors to craft a regimen that brings their blood sugar into the range that preserves and improves their health.Dr. Davis: Before we close, tell us a little about yourself outside of your diabetes advocate role. Jenny: I live in rural New England and am a passionate gardener. I've been online since 1980 when I was part of the team at IBM that developed the first commercial email program, PROFS. I got involved in online discussion groups in 1987 and have been messaging on bulletin boards ever since. I was a professional singer/songwriter in Nashville in my youth and spent my middle years as a bestselling author of books about consulting. Right now a lot of my energy goes into managing the financial and software side of a family business that makes hand made pocket tools for collectors.Dr. Davis: Thank you for your great insights, Jenny!