Dr. Edwards generously answers all of our questions, including the difference between Type 1 and 2 diabetes, the healthiest sweeteners, the difference between eating fruit versus straight sugar, and he shares an example of how even the toughest cases of Type 2 Diabetes can be stopped in their tracks by what you eat.
Even if you don’t have Type 2 Diabetes yourself, this episode is an easy-to-understand overview of Diabetes and how food can help you or someone you love who may be diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Click the button below to download the mp3 podcast file.
Hello, and welcome to Episode #51 of the Raw Food Podcast. I am your host, Laura-Jane, the Rawtarian. Today we are talking about and nutrition. In this episode I am joined by special guest Dr. Chad Edwards who gives us a crash course in everything we need to know about reversing diabetes with nutrition. Dr. Chad Edwards is an osteopathic physician practicing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His primary interest is functional medicine using a holistic approach. He’s also the host of the Against the Grain podcast. Dr. Edwards generously answers all of our questions, including the difference between Type I and Type II diabetes, the healthiest sweeteners, the difference between eating fruit and eating straight sugar, and he shares an example of how even the toughest cases of Type II diabetes can be stopped in their tracks by what you eat. Even if you don’t have Type II diabetes yourself, this episode is an easy to understand overview of diabetes, and how food can help you or someone you love who may be diabetic or pre-diabetic. Stay tuned, and Dr. Edwards and I will be with you shortly. _
Laura-Jane: Thanks so much for joining me.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Hey, thanks for letting me be here. It’s an honor.
Laura-Jane: You and I know a little bit about each other, but let’s open it up for our listeners and tell them a little bit about you, about your background, and your interest in prevention and your story.
Dr. Chad Edwards: I worked in the medical division in the army as a preventive medicine specialist as an enlisted guy. I did that for eleven years, and I worked with special operations and had some really neat experiences in the past with that. I always knew I wanted to go to medical school. In 2000 I finally was able to go to medical school and the stars lined up, so to speak, and I was able to realize that. I went to Oklahoma State University. It’s an osteopathic physician school. If the listeners don’t know the difference between an MD and a DO, in the United States we’re fully licensed to practice medicine in the same ways that MDs are. In fact, I took MD residency boards, so I’m board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. As I started practicing, I was a special operations physician, and my job was to keep these guys that are these Olympic level athletes that are out protecting our country and doing things that a lot of people would never do. They’re really good at breaking themselves down. I started seeing that my traditional approach - even though I was a DO, which is a little different than my MD colleagues - but a lot of what I was doing just wasn’t having the effect that we were wanting to have. Then you look around in the country and you see diabetes is rampant, obesity is rampant, lots of inflammatory problems. There’s just this whole cascade of problems. There’s a longer story there, but basically it just opened Pandora’s box, as to what I was doing was merely treating disease, and that’s not why I was put on this planet. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we can prevent that stuff, it would save so much money, and we would be so much healthier. I started listening to Rob Wolf’s podcast in 2010, and it got me turned on to the nutrition piece. I was an athletic trainer in college, and I worked with athletes a lot; I did a fair amount of nutrition, but this was a different perspective with a different foundation. That really opened my eyes to a whole other world, and once you open that box, there’s no going back.
Laura-Jane: I think one of the things that makes your story powerful is that you’re a really interesting hybrid of the military doctor, manly kind of guy, but also who’s very passionate about lifestyle changes and the power of nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, all that kind of stuff. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m excited to talk to you, because I know you have the medical training, but you’re also really open minded as well to making changes in people’s lives where sometimes it takes a bit of hard work, but, as we all know, as you said, prevention is worth a pound of… whatever the expression is!
Dr. Chad Edwards: You got it.
Laura-Jane: We might as well just jump into it. Just a little bit of context here: we do want to talk about diabetes. What I’m looking for from you at the outset is just a quick overview, almost in layman’s terms, about the different types of diabetes just to get that clarified. I know, having listened to one of your podcasts recently, we could just touch on being pre-diabetic as well, and maybe even gestational. Give us an overview of the different types of diabetes.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to understand the concept of what is diabetes, and what differentiates the different types. Diabetes is a condition in which we lose the ability to regulate our blood sugar. That’s just ultimately what it is. Blood sugar levels in our system begin to rise, and that causes a whole host of problems. I almost think about it as a rust - you’re rusting from the inside, so to speak. Those glucose molecules are toxic, and they begin to wear away at our physiology through a number of different mechanisms. The medical community sets this diagnosis where here you have diabetes. I think one of the podcasts talked quite a bit about what’s called the hemoglobin A1C. We’re measuring one of these proteins that’s been glycated. It’s got this glucose molecule attached to it. That process, that glycation, is much of the damage that we get with diabetes.
Laura-Jane: Is that the rusting?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yes, exactly. It alters the protein, and it makes it where it doesn’t function in the same way it did before, and that process is permanent. Once you glycate that protein, there’s no going back. Now some of those proteins will be eliminated and you’ll generate new ones, but once that protein has been glycated there’s basically no going back from there. In the medical community we like to define, “When are you diabetic?” and “When are you not?” We see things as this black and white “disease” or “not disease.” We don’t live in that box. Our physiology doesn’t operate that way where you’re completely normal all the way up to this number and then past this number you’re diabetic. That’s just not the case. So when we go to pre-diabetes, we have a case where you have altered physiology, the ability to control that blood sugar is beginning to deteriorate. My goal with my patients is for them to be optimal in their physiology, so it’s very important for me to identify that pre-diabetes. Again, we’re creating another box that’s outside the diabetes box, but we want to be optimal. So that’s my goal, and that’s my focus with pre-diabetes. If you think about a Nascar, you’ve got these high performance automotive vehicles that are operating at the peak of our ability to make a car go, and then you have this car that’s burning oil and sputtering and has blown head gaskets and all these kinds of things.
Laura-Jane: Do you mean like my car?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Well, it could be. I haven’t seen it. Laura-Jane: Keep going, keep going.
Dr. Chad Edwards: You have these two different ends of the spectrum, and then you have all different levels of vehicles in the middle. We want to be operating at a Nascar, and we don’t wait until your car has blown up to intervene. Same thing with diabetes, if that makes sense. Does that make sense, as far as that spectrum? Laura-Jane: Yes, definitely, but I think - especially because the names Type I and Type II - we could almost think - and I know this is not true - it’ s not like one is worse than the other. Your insides are rusting, but they are very different.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yep, that’s right. So basically we’re looking at how do you get to the point where you’re losing the ability to control that blood sugar. That’s where the Type I, Type II comes in. You have a hormone in your body called insulin. It’s incredibly important for a number of things. One, it helps to control your blood sugar by lowering it, and it drives glucose into cells.
Laura-Jane: Okay, whoa. So Type I is an autoimmune disease.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yes, it is an autoimmune destruction, meaning that your immune system has recognized certain cells in your pancreas, which is an organ in your abdomen. It’s recognized certain cells as abnormal and you have antibodies that begin to attack that and destroy those cells. Those cells secrete insulin. They’re called the beta cells, or the beta cells in the eyelets in the pancreas. You destroy those cells and you cannot create insulin anymore. Now you have a condition where you don’t make insulin. There is none. Several decades ago, that was a fatal condition. You cannot live without insulin.
Laura-Jane: Okay, let’s move right on to Type II…
Dr. Chad Edwards: Type II diabetes is where you actually have insulin, but that insulin is not working efficiently at the cell. Insulin is supposed to bind to a receptor - kind of like a lock and a key. So that key - insulin - is supposed to fit into the lock - which is the receptor on the cell - and that allows glucose to go into the cell. It’s like the key doesn’t fit anymore. It’s like it’s worn out, and you have to jiggle the key in order to get it to turn. That’s basically Type II diabetes. It’s what we call insulin resistance. That hormone is just not working like it should. We overwhelm the system by secreting more and more and more insulin, and then it ends up controlling our blood sugar a little bit better.
Laura-Jane: With Type I, if you’re not doing anything, you don’t have enough insulin.
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s correct.
Laura-Jane: With Type II, do you have too much insulin? There’s too much floating around?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yes, so that will often be one of the first things that I’ll begin to notice with my patients: their blood sugars look normal; they’re fine; they’re controlling it well. But we’ll see insulin levels begin to rise. It’s not necessarily that it’s too much. It’s an indicator that insulin’s not working efficiently. The body’s trying to adjust.
Laura-Jane: My general understanding is Type I is something that you were born with, frequently?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Most of the time Type I is juvenile onset. There is a condition LADA, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adulthood. We’re seeing things like Celiac disease and an association with Type I diabetes. We talk about altered intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, that can increase the inflammation, which ultimately can lead to autoimmune disorders. There are a lot of things that can contribute to that. And because of the kinds of foods that we eat and the health that we have, we’re seeing an increase in Type I diabetes both in children and in adulthood.
Laura-Jane: So Type I, I said, was something you’re born with, and you can’t do anything about it. That is incorrect?
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s correct.
Laura-Jane: The incorrectness is correct?
Dr. Chad Edwards: That is incorrect. You are right. It gets into genetic and epigenetic factors, meaning, you may be predisposed, but you could have genetic twins which one gets diabetes and one does not. It all depends on the environment and what they’re exposed to.
Laura-Jane: One gets Type I, and the other does not get Type I?
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s correct.
Laura-Jane: And then if we contrast this to Type II, the stereotype of this is “You’ve eaten badly, and therefore over time you’ve developed Type II.” That may be a bit blunt, but is that true?
Dr. Chad Edwards: For the most part, for your average person, I would say that’s pretty true. It’s important to understand that certain nutritional deficiencies, for example chromium, can cause Type II diabetes, because you have to have chromium for insulin to work, in order for it to fit into the key, so to speak. So if you’re chromium deficient, that can cause Type II diabetes, and if you replenish the chromium, it can cure the Type II diabetes.
Laura-Jane: Is that chromium deficiency more like, say, less than ten percent of Type II? It’s more rare? Or is that a common thing with Type II?
Dr. Chad Edwards: I routinely measure chromium levels, and I do see some association. When I’m trying to manage a patient with Type II diabetes, it’s one of the things that I always consider because if they are chromium deficient, we can make a big difference without giving them a whole bunch of medication. I don’t know the numbers because no one’s done a study. I have to base it off my observation in my clinic. Certainly it’s regional; in some regions, they don’t have as much chromium in their nutrition. Then there are other conditions where you can have toxins that interfere with it, more elimination, those kinds of things.
Laura-Jane: I know I’m wanting to maybe focus more on Type II for our discussion. The reason I want to do that - and please correct me if I’m wrong - this is because Type II is something that can be more easily fixed by what we eat, as opposed to Type I, which can’t be helped by diet.
Dr. Chad Edwards: I think you’re on the right track. If we have to categorize them (I always want to be very careful about speaking black and white, because patients will prove me wrong every day), Type I, for the most part, you can’t turn that around. Sometimes you can. We have some cases where we’ve seen that. Type II is much more of a situation where we may be able to turn that around. I had a patient that came in with a very high hemoglobin A1C, his blood sugar was very uncontrolled. We simply changed his diet, gave him a couple of supplements, and he is diabetes-free and doing very well just on optimizing his nutrition. We do see that with Type II.
Laura-Jane: So let’s talk about Type II. Let’s even pretend with this guy you were talking about who was very disregulated and now is much better. I think a common thinking about this is that you can’t eat sugar, and the way to change your diet - to reverse Type II diabetes - is to cut out sugar. Is it more complex than simply cutting out sugar? Let’s talk about what you may have said to Bob, let’s call him. What does one need to do to try to reverse Type II diabetes with food?
Dr. Chad Edwards: The first thing is let’s define sugar. We’re not speaking necessarily of all carbohydrates, which your body ultimately processes as this generic term of sugar.
Laura-Jane: Meaning a carbohydrate could be like a bun? Dr. Chad Edwards: Yes. Any of your carbohydrates. It could be fruits, grains. There are carbohydrates in many legumes, vegetables, those kinds of things. Your body will ultimately process them as glucose or carbohydrates. So when I say sugar, I refer to the processed sugar, which is sucrose - the chemical name for it.
Laura-Jane: Like white sugar which you put in your tea.
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s correct. There I absolutely pretty much across the board recommend eliminate as much as possible processed sugar. All of the evidence is consistent with this. It’s consistent with sugar. Sugar is not natural. Our hunter gatherer societies don’t have—
Laura-Jane: They’re like, “Oh, there’s the beach. It’s made of white sugar. Get your scoop, kids.”
Dr. Chad Edwards: Exactly. Going back to how we were made - we just didn’t have a lot of sugar. So, yes, 100 percent, eliminate sugar, we see improvement pretty much across the board. Now that does not necessarily apply to eliminate all fruits, eliminate all grains, eliminate all those kinds of things. There may be reasons that we need to do some of those things, but if we’re talking specifically about diabetes, that’s not necessarily the case.
Laura-Jane: Before we leave this, can we touch on this briefly: when I make recipes (I love desserts) I never use white sugar, but I am often using maple syrup or honey. It’s not okay to simply say, “I’m not eating white sugar. I’ll use other sweeteners instead.” Can we talk a little bit about those other sweeteners? I’ve also heard of Stevia - I use a little bit myself - and the glycemic index, which is kind of like the how intense the sugar is? Can we talk about this a little bit? Dr. Chad Edwards: Sure. So the glycemic index refers to how quickly your blood sugar goes up in response to a certain food. If you eat a sugar - a carbohydrate - and you eat fat and protein with it, it’s going to slow that down. And they’ve tested this with patients and measured their blood sugar. Now when you look at some of the sweeteners like agave.. agave is essentially fructose. It has a very low glycemic index because it doesn’t make glucose levels rise in your blood.
Laura-Jane: This is good. A low score on the glycemic index means it’s less sugary?
Dr. Chad Edwards: It means your glucose levels don’t rise as much.
Laura-Jane: Is that good?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Sort of. And that was the original thought: we need to go to agave for diabetics because it doesn’t make blood sugar go up. That’s not the whole story. Basically, what fructose does when you eat it — basically, when we eat foods, everything goes to the liver first. The liver gets first crack at it. It goes and fills up the sugar levels in the liver, and once the liver is full, 100 percent of the rest of that fructose goes to fat. And you can only story so much fat. It’s one of the reasons that we see so much fatty liver - because of that fructose burden. When you look at that table sugar, it’s half glucose, half fructose. High fructose corn syrup (I don’t know how much of that you have in Canada, but in the United States it’s everywhere) - corn syrup, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup… You know the sucrose molecule is 50/50: half glucose, half fructose. High fructose corn syrup is fifty-five percent fructose. Not a big difference, but it’s still too much in my opinion. We should eliminate both of them.
Laura-Jane: Can we boil this discussion down to (I know I’m cutting you off, but it’s like the fat is spilling over in my brain)… If there is a way to make a scale, where white sugar is the worst and maybe agave is not as bad, what would be the best sweetener for Type II diabetics?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Across the board I like Stevia. It’s got a decent flavor profile. (You would know more about that then I would.) You can use it in baking and things like that. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, and it can play a role as well. Some of the dentists like it because the bacteria can’t use the xylitol and so they kind of starve, so to speak. It doesn’t cause your teeth to rot as much. Erythritol is another one, and most sweeteners have a funky taste, so you have to get them in combination so you offset some of that weird taste. Stevia’s way up there on my list.
Laura-Jane: If the best would be xylitol, stevia, et cetera, is there anything that is still somewhat a natural sweetener - honey, or even dates or maple syrup or agave? Is there any one that you think is better? Or is it that they’re all sort of similar?
Dr. Chad Edwards: I think that they’re all similar and so, when it comes to honey and maple syrup and those kinds of things, I do not eliminate those things. I say pick your poison. If you’ve got somebody that’s a very uncontrolled Type II diabetic, we may have to do a cleanse (I hate that word, but we’ll call it a cleanse) and just avoid it completely for a couple of months, and then let’s reintroduce some as your physiology adjusts to this new way of eating. So honey, maple syrup, those natural things, I think they’re appropriate, I think they’re fine, but you’ve got to be careful on how much you’re getting.
Laura-Jane: I think they’re quite high on the glycemic index as well. Could we also say the difference between white sugar and honey isn’t that different?
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s probably a true statement. We just have to be careful about how much we use.
Laura-Jane: Thank you for working through that with me. How does fruit fare in this?
Dr. Chad Edwards: All fruit is not the same. Some of the fruits that I just absolutely love are very high in simple sugars, like grapes, mango, pineapple, I love them.
Laura-Jane: Those are the best ones!
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yes, exactly. So good.
Laura-Jane: So sweet, probably.
Dr. Chad Edwards: But you have to understand that there’s a lot of good stuff that comes with those as well. There’s nutrients, there’s multiple vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, all kinds of things that come with them. So we’re not talking about processing something down to just the sugar. If you’re talking about a good, better, best, the best option is how the fruit comes in its natural form, like an apple. An apple, in my opinion, would be the best way to go. The next best way to go would be apple juice. You lose a lot of the fiber - and remember when we talk about the glycemic index, we’re talking about other things in conjunction with it that slow down its absorption - and when you get apple juice, you’ve lost a lot of the fiber, you’ve lost some nutrients, and you’ve processed it one step further. And then the worst one would be apple flavor, where we just take an extract of the apple and use that. It’s going from that, worst to best. Eat the food in the way it grew on the planet naturally, and the less processing we do to it, the better. I’m not talking bout slicing it up and putting it on your salad, I’m not talking about baking with it and those kinds of things. I’m talking about don’t just process it down so you can put it in a juice.
Laura-Jane: I actually really like the way that yo’ve explained that. To me, we always hear about “eat things in their natural form,” but what you’ve added to that - for me, anyway - is it’s almost weighted down. The sweetness has a chain around its neck where it’s hauling along this fiber, and it’s hauling along whatever else that helps to slow it down so that it’s not hitting your system so intensely. I think this helps as a visual for why fruit might be different than sugar or honey or what have you.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Sure, and I like the way you said that. That’s a very good visual.
Laura-Jane: I do know that often people will contact me and say, “I’ve just been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I don’t know what to eat. What do I do?” Would you say, with your patients, you suggest - I know we don’t like the word cleanse for this - but starting in an extreme way? How do you suggest your patients try to deal with this diagnosis if they want to change it with diet?
Dr. Chad Edwards: So the first thing is you have to get their buy-in; you have to have them on board. If you make such a sweeping change that it’s seemingly not doable to them, then you’ve lost them. You have to scale it for each patient in a way that they can do. Some people are rip the band-aid off people, and they just want to dive in and they’re in. You have other people who have to wade into the water more deeply, so you have to be very careful and customize it for that patient. That’s the first thing that I would say. The second thing: you never want to let perfect be the enemy of good. This may be the perfect level, but it may be unattainable for them. Let’s do better. My goal is to help them in their journey. Let’s do better. How can we do that? The more we can eliminate those simple, refined, processed sugars, the better off we are. Sometimes I will recommend a ketogenic diet. I’ve seen good benefit with that in some people. Dr. Pearlman - I don’t know if you’ve heard of him—
Laura-Jane: I’ve heard of him, but I don’t remember what a ketogenic diet is. What are the bones of that?
Dr. Chad Edwards: It’s important to understand that in diabetes as well. When your insulin levels drop very low, then you’re able to burn more fat. So, one of the byproducts - it’s kind of the ashes, so to speak - of burning fat is ketones. These ketones are good and beneficial, so long as you don’t have too much of them - and in normal physiology that doesn’t really happen. Diabetics can do into ketoacidosis. But ketosis is just where you’re creating these ketones and you can measure them in your urine and in your blood. Basically it lets us know that we’re eating so few carbs that we don’t have a ton of insulin so we’re burning more fat as fuel.
Laura-Jane: Is a ketogenic diet low-carb?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yeah, it almost has to be, unless your physiology is abnormal like with a Type I diabetic. Otherwise as you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar level will rise and insulin levels to have go up. That insulin does more than just control your blood sugar. One of the things is it shifts your energy burning systems so that you’re burning different kinds of fuel. With higher levels of insulin, you don’t burn fat.
Laura-Jane: Moving away from the scary words that scare me…. Going back to my question, we said, “How does one approach this?” and we began talking about ketogenic diet, and then we said ketogenic diet is low-carbish. How else would you describe the ketogneic diet in terms of what you’re eating?
Dr. Chad Edwards: Basically it’s proteins and fats. So you’re talking about beans - although beans have carbohydrates in them as well. You’re talking about high levels of fat - coconut oils; any kind of animal fat assuming that it’s normal healthy animals, not confined feeding operation type, hormone laden, you know that kind of stuff; good butters - grass fed kinds of butters, those kinds of things. And of course your green leafies are always good - broccoli and cruciferous vegetables, those kinds of things. Carrots are higher in carbohydrates, so you can’t eat a lot of carrots on a ketogenic diet.
Laura-Jane: So basically you’re not eating a lot of sweets, you’re not eating a lot of high carb stuff, and you’re just eating proteins, vegetables, -ish.
Dr. Chad Edwards: And fats. That’s correct. I was recently in Paris, and just looking around, there’s not a lot of obesity. There in fact it’s rare. They eat tons of a lot of the foods that in America I would say don’t eat those things. I would argue that there’s something different about our food here then there is there. It’s a common theme. We think there’s definitely something different. I think there’s more to it than just simply talking about the sugars, but I do think that’s an important piece.
Laura-Jane: I totally agree with that. I am learning a lot. This is great. So, with Type II… Now, me, not struggling with any of these issues myself, can we talk through someone who comes to you and says, “I feel bad; something’s going on,” and you do testing and you realize you’re a Type II diabetic. Does this mean, logistically, from a medical perspective, they then have to be testing their insulin levels daily? What is the process from a Type II diagnosis? Dr. Chad Edwards: It really depends on that spectrum. And it depends on the medications that I’m using. If I’m giving someone insulin, it can make their blood sugar drop dramatically, and low blood sugar can be fatal - it can kill you - so we have to be very careful about that. If I put someone on insulin, they have to be checking their blood sugars, without question. Now if they’re a low severity diabetic, they’re not uncontrolled, I’m going to start with lifestyle changes, which is exercise and watching carbohydrates and refined sugars and all those things. The second thing I’m going to do it start adding some supplements. We mentioned chromium. That’s one thing I’ll often add. There are several herbs that can be beneficial. And I will add those, depending on the patient’s thoughts. Alpha lipoic acid is a substance that our body makes, but taking it as a supplement (in a very, very high quality supplement) can be very beneficial in lowering blood sugar. So I’ll add supplements. And then the last thing I’ll do is add medications. I just see more risk in adding medications.
Laura-Jane: Okay, we have a brand new diagnosis of Type II. Some people probably just are not emotionally able to really consider any lifestyle changes, so some people might just get medication and continue eating the same way (this is not ideal but it probably happens) and then just dealing with their Type II with drugs.
Dr. Chad Edwards: We see that all the time. I don’t see that as much in my practice because most of my patients—
Laura-Jane: Well because you’re you, and people love you. They come to you for that.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Exactly. But, before I opened my own clinic, yes, that was very mainstream. “I don’t want to change anything, and why should I? You can just give me a pill.” I see it all the time.
Laura-Jane: If someone comes to you with very bad Type II diabetes and says, “Oh, no, I’m a hippie. I don’t do medication. I want to only control this with diet and I’m ready to go all the way. Is that too risky?”
Dr. Chad Edwards: No. In fact, let me illustrate that with a story. So Dr. Huizenga is the medical director on the TV show The Biggest Loser. I’ve worked with him; he’s a friend of mine. He was telling me about one of the contestants on one of the seasons. I don’t remember the patient’s name, but he had horribly uncontrolled diabetes. He was medically disqualified from the show. But Dr. Huizenga said, “No, I’ll take care of him. We’re going to get him taken care of.” So they brought him on the show. He was on thirteen diabetes medications everyday. Three of those were injections - every day. And his blood sugar was horrifically uncontrolled in the 2- and 300 level. So two weeks on the show, he was off all of his medications. In two weeks he was off all of them. They use a device called a dexcom which is a continuous plasma glucose monitor. They did this for a week, and at ten weeks he put this contestant’s dexcom results up. He was off all of his medications, and his blood sugar was 100 percent normal, including an oral glucose tolerance test, where they give a high dose of carbohydrates and see how you respond. So this is a case where he was horrifically uncontrolled and completely reversed that process within ten weeks.
Laura-Jane: He was a Type II diabetic?
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s correct.
Laura-Jane: And if he was on that show, he was quite obese.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Yes, that’s correct. And he lost quite a bit of weight. He didn’t lose all of his weight in two weeks. But the physiology changed that much that quickly. It is an intense process.
Laura-Jane: Some of our listeners are healthy but maybe have people in their lives who they’re trying to help. The idea is if you have Type II, no matter who you are, you can get it under control through diet.
Dr. Chad Edwards: I would argue that with 90-plus percent certainty, that’s absolutely the case. At the same time, I will say, it’s going to take a lot more work than you think. Or it can take a lot more work than you think.
Laura-Jane: And particularly a lot of the work in life - which is something I’m really passionate about - is lifestyle change and creating healthy habits. If you are in a very bad state in Type II, it’s going to be a major change for you, and you’re going to have to learn a lot of new things, and that is intense, as we both know.
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s exactly right. It can be a challenge.
Laura-Jane: I do feel like a lot of people have a lot of fear about changing - it could be about so many things, really - also even just about medically. It almost sounds like, “I should just be taking the drugs.” I’m not completely against taking whatever medication you need to take, but I think a lot of people think, “I can’t solve this problem with food.”
Dr. Chad Edwards: Right. Exactly. Our society is geared toward medication. I worked in the emergency department as well. I see a lot of that. I have a headache, I take Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I have a fever, I take a pill to make my fever go down. You have a problem you take a pill. That’s just kind of how we think. And I see that all the time, and we don’t consider that what Hippocrates said thousands of years ago: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Laura-Jane: How do you feel - firstly, I think we’re probably going to be winding this up, because I’m just mindful of your time, and I’ve covered so much of the good stuff that I just want to go forever - but do you feel in your practice that you probably have moments of excitement where you’re helping people and you’re really making the changes that you know will help them? How do you feel in terms of your work and your patients? You have patients across the spectrum?
Dr. Chad Edwards: We do. I have some patients that I’m like, “I don’t understand why this person’s coming to see me, because they’re not willing to make any changes.” But they prove me wrong so often. They’ll come in and they’ll say, “Hey, I made one little change.” And then we’ll see a difference that that made, and we’ll show them the results and say, “See, just making that one little change resulted in all of these good things. You’re not fixed, but you’ve made some positive changes.” And that motivates them to take the second step. Again, we’re about doing better. Let’s help them get better.
Laura-Jane: Totally, and I think when you set people up for those small successes - that they can actually get a win and see the results - I guess in your case, your clinic does a lot of testing - I think it is really true when you’re in a position of power like you are, because if someone’s coming in having eaten McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you say, “Oh, you have to do this ketogenic diet, no sugar,” it’s just too much, but if you can get them to focus on one thing and then see a good result, then that can be really inspiring for them.
Dr. Chad Edwards: That’s exactly right.
Laura-Jane: Dr. Edwards, tell us a little bit about your practice. I mentioned that you are in Tulsa. What do you offer there? Tell us more.
Dr. Chad Edwards: I have Revolution Health and Wellness Clinic, and our goal is to revolutionize medicine across the spectrum. We want to treat each patient like they’re our only patient and really take optimal care of them. When they come in with a complaint - and probably the average complaint is “I just don’t feel well” - this kind of vague thing that they go to their other doctors and get some labs and they say, “Everything’s normal. You’re making this up, or it’s in your head, and you need an antidepressant.” But it’s so rare that that’s truly the case. There’s something else going on. Let’s figure this out. So as you mentioned earlier, we do a lot of testing. We want to know what’s going on under the hood. Why does this person feel bad? Let’s fix that. Let’s turn that around. Lifestyle change is a big part of that. With nutrition, exercise, optimizing rest and stress reduction - all of those kinds of things. Then the second piece is adding supplements to fix the nutritional gaps. And then the third piece would be medications when needed. Some patients need medication. I’m not opposed to that, but we want to be careful about how we utilize those. Then we offer hormone therapy, kind of an anti-aging approach, to help people age gracefully and stay young and healthy as long as they can. One of my passions is called prolotherapy. It’s an injection where we heal damaged ligaments and tendons, so we can take care of a lot of knee pain, back pain, headaches, partially torn ligaments, ankle sprains - all kinds of things that we can resolve and get our patients back to 100 percent health.
Laura-Jane: Awesome. Well I with you were my doctor. I’m on the east coast of Canada, so it’s a bit of a commute, but I would love the weather down there too.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Oh, yeah. Exactly. And with a name like Laura-Jane, you’d fit right in.
Laura-Jane: I know. I’m so Southern. Thank you so much. What’s really sad, Dr. Edwards, is that I know you’re a Seinfeld fan, and I am a huge Seinfeld fan. I’ve listened to your podcast Against the Grain, and you often make Seinfeld jokes. And I’m so sad because the whole podcast episode, I was like, “How am I going to work a Seinfeld joke in here?” and I failed. I have none.
Dr. Chad Edwards: I guess we can end it by saying, “That’s it. I’m outta here.” I made my joke and now we’re done.
Laura-Jane: Exactly. George style. Well I am mindful of your time, so I am just going to say, “Thank you, Dr. Edwards, so much.” Thank you, on behalf of all your patients. It’s true, what you said: so many people go to their doctor and say, “Things aren’t right.” Not all doctors have the time or the ability to be able to really address those issues, and I think we all are so in tune with our body and know when we’re not feeling right, but the question is what we do about it. So thank you, on their behalf, for listening and going through this with people, because it’s so important.
Dr. Chad Edwards: Thank you, and it was a true honor to be on your podcast. Anything that I can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Laura-Jane: Thank you. Do check out Against the Grain podcast. You can get that on iTunes, or at againstthegrainpodcast.com. There’s a lot more there if you’re interested in diabetes. He’s got a couple of episodes there that talk about the science, if you’re into that, if you want to take this episode as a jumping off point and learn more from Dr. Edwards. I will let you go. Thank you so much. _
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