Atkins diet resembles traditional diet

The Aboriginal diabetes epidemic has reached emergency proportions and urgent measures are needed to prevent and mitigate type II diabetes in the Aboriginal population. That was one of four recommendations to come out of the Symposium on Traditional Diet and Diabetes, hosted in Gatineau, Quebec by Dr. Carolyn Bennett, minister of state for Public Health. "The people at the symposium felt there was huge potential for (traditional diet) to help prevent and treat existing diabetes in the Aboriginal population," said Dr. Jay Wortman, one of the eight speakers at the Feb. 5 symposium.

Article Source: http://www.wawatay.on.ca/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=914

 The Aboriginal diabetes epidemic has reached emergency proportions and urgent measures are needed to prevent and mitigate type II diabetes in the Aboriginal population. That was one of four recommendations to come out of the Symposium on Traditional Diet and Diabetes, hosted in Gatineau, Quebec by Dr. Carolyn Bennett, minister of state for Public Health. "The people at the symposium felt there was huge potential for (traditional diet) to help prevent and treat existing diabetes in the Aboriginal population," said Dr. Jay Wortman, one of the eight speakers at the Feb. 5 symposium. About 30 public health specialists and First Nations and Inuit community representatives attended the symposium to learn about diet and diabetes from Wortman and the other seven speakers: Dr. Stewart Harris, University of Western Ontario; Dr. Walter C. Willett, Harvard School of Health; Dr. Harriet V. Kuhnlein, McGill University; Dr. Stephen Phinney, University of California; Dr. Eric Westman, Duke University; Dr. Mary C. Vernon, Rockledge Medical Services; and Dr. Richard G. Mathias, University of British Columbia. Wortman, a MÈtis from northern Alberta and the director-general for the B.C. Region of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, has been on a low-carbohydrate diet since he found out he had diabetes in 2002. His instinctive reaction at the time was to quit eating carbohydrates, so he went on the Atkins Diet, which cuts out most carbohydrates. "I've been doing the Atkins diet for over two years," Wortman said. "I've never felt better. My blood pressure is normal, my blood sugar is normal ñ it used to be high." Bennett and Wortman both pointed to the success Jim Wilson, a Kwakiutl from the We Wai Kai Nation in British Columbia, has had in controlling his diabetes. "He was on insulin for 17 years," Wortman said, adding that even though Wilson was on insulin, his blood sugar levels were still high. "He started on the Atkins diet and within two months he was off insulin and had regular blood sugar levels." Wilson's blood pressure levels are also back to normal, and he has lost about 50 pounds since going on the diet, Wortman said. "There seems to be a link with the depletion of a traditional diet," Bennett said. "Looking at the Inuit, the people who have stayed on a more traditional diet don't have as much diabetes as other more southern people." The symposium's three other recommendations were: modern low-carbohydrate diets may help to prevent and mitigate type II diabetes and warrants further research; research should focus on determining what kind of program based on traditional diets would be most helpful to Aboriginal communities; and the urgency of the situation warrants the immediate initiation of program interventions that show promise, such as the development of a clinical guideline using a low-carbohydrate diet approach, the inclusion of a traditional diet component in the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, and the development of programs to assist communities to obtain healthy foods and follow a healthy diet. Wortman has already had communities volunteering to be part of a low-carbohydrate diet research project. Some First Nation communities in Canada, such as Sandy Lake First Nation, have among the highest type II diabetes rates in the world. Wortman's mother, her parents, and some of her siblings are among the growing numbers of Aboriginal Canadians struggling with diabetes. "The symposium recognized the urgent need to start (initiating program interventions) right away to get people on a healthy diet," Wortman said. Doctor's diet When Wortman cut out carbohydrates from his own diet in 2002, his blood sugar and blood pressure levels dropped back to normal, he lost 22 pounds, and he has maintained that weight since then. He usually eats an omelet with cheese, mushrooms, bacon, and sausage for breakfast, along with some tea, without sugar. For lunch, he usually eats fruit and salads without croutons or bread, such as a green salad with some cheese or a salad with sliced chicken. For dinner, he always eats plenty of green vegetables, along with fish or meat as the main course. "Any vegetable that grows above the ground is OK," Wortman said, listing broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, zucchini, and squash as some of the good vegetables. "You don't eat any potatoes." While Wortman does add some onion to his food for flavour, he's completely cut out pineapple, bananas, oranges, and fruit juice from his diet. "I haven't had a banana in two years," he said. "But I eat a green apple a day."

 

Wawatay News Vol.32 #04 (February 24, 2005)

Additional information