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Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution    by Richard K. Bernstein order for
Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution
by Richard K. Bernstein
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Everywhere it seems there are more reports on the growing numbers of people who have diabetes. In my own family, my aunts and mother all have Type II diabetes, and one of my nephews in my husband's family has just been diagnosed with Type I diabetes. I've not developed the disease yet, but it appears that it may be on my horizon if I don't take steps to prevent it, as my family seems genetically vulnerable. I'm definitely interested in preventing this disease, and while Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution is concerned primarily with treating the disease once it has developed, following the dietary guidelines will also help prevent the disease.

Dr. Bernstein wasn't always a physician. He actually became a doctor in mid-life, after unsuccessfully trying to publish his extensive testing and research on the effects of controlling blood sugar levels on diabetes, using his own medical history as a basis. He decided the only way to educate and change the medical thinking on diabetes at the time was to become an expert in the field of medicine. Dr. Bernstein has Type I (Juvenile) diabetes, and decades ago this was a death sentence - sooner rather than later. Dr. Bernstein suffered from many physical problems due to his diabetes, and exercise and medicine alone weren't helping. The medical philosophy at the time ignored controlling blood sugar by diet and concentrated on insulin treatments alone.

Today, blood sugar testing is very easy with the plethora of small devices that read drops of blood instantly, but back then there weren't any, and people had to test their urine. Dr. Bernstein heard about a new device that tested if comatose people were in a diabetic coma, as opposed to a drunken stupor. His wife was a physician, so he was able to get a testing device. He was amazed at how his blood sugar fluctuated throughout the day. He began to experiment with different types of foods, and noted which ones elevated his blood sugar. He succeeded in maintaining an even level, and soon many of his physical problems actually reversed.

The medical philosophy at the time was that it was impossible to monitor and control blood sugar on a daily basis, so diabetics only had recourse to treating the lack of insulin. Dr. Bernstein demonstrated that by monitoring blood sugar and limiting carbohydrates (sugar), one could successfully lower blood sugar and limit many of the deleterious effects of too much sugar on the body.

Diabetes Solution was first published ten years ago, and has now been updated and revised. This book is primarily focused on the best methods for lowering blood sugar, by diet and medicine. The types of foods and their effects, plus various medicines and their effects, are discussed thoroughly. The goal is to educate diabetics on how to control their blood sugar in an effective manner. He advises everyone to test certain foods by blood sugar level monitoring after consumption, and to raise or lower diet intake accordingly, as everyone has slightly different tolerances and requirements.

I usually treat books that promote diet as a cure-all solution to medical problems with some skepticism, although I do feel that sensible eating is important for general health. I believe that being overweight is the main cause of many cancers, Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, but I don't think that certain foods are the sole cure or cause of everything ranging from seizures to ADHD.

This book, however, is not in this category. It has very strong evidence behind it that monitoring blood sugar to maintain an acceptable level is the only effective way to manage blood sugar. A diabetic's body has limited ability to produce insulin naturally to process sugar in the blood, so keeping the blood sugar even is vitally important. Dr. Bernstein is not suggesting throwing out medicine as a treatment, but advocates practical methods for lowering blood sugar in an approach that combines diet and medicine. I recommend Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution highly as a very good guide for anyone dealing with diabetes, whether Type I or Type II.

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