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Ken's Engineered Type 1 Diabetes Whole Food Plant Based Low Fat Lifestyle

Ken in His Engineering Lab Ken in His Engineering Lab

Previous experiences with my doctors were extremely difficult because they wanted to control my Type 1 diabetes by prescribing specific medication doses and defining what I should eat. But, none of that was working. I felt extremely diseased and disabled. I was kind of terrified from all that and so decided to apply the techniques of my profession: fault analysis and electronic design. In addition to studying cellular level biology at the Midwestern State University library, I began an elimination diet to find out what foods did what. All the foods my doctors were telling me to eat were not working. In fact, those foods made things far worse. That was how I discovered that plant based foods, very low fat and low protein with no animal products were the best foods. I found starches and fruits made diabetic control and my life extremely easy.

Every time I would go to my doctor, however, I would end up in an argument. He would review my blood work and tell me that my blood work was the best he had ever seen. My A1c was 5.1 my total cholesterol was 100. Then his next sentence was that he wanted to put me on Lipitor. I asked him why and he told me it was because "All diabetics should be on Lipitor." He then proceeded to explain that my diet was all wrong because it was not a proper diabetic diet. He explained that my A1c was too low and should be in the diabetic range - since I am a diabetic. This went on until June of 2012.

2012 was the year I discovered Dr. McDougall during some casual Google surfing. I did not know before that time that there was such a thing as a plant based doctor. I found a list of plant-based doctors on his web site and found Dr. Carney in Buda, Texas. I thought this is awesome, now I can go to a doctor without having to be told that my diet is all wrong when it is actually working.

My wife who was having a lot of gastrointestinal issues, went to Dr. Carney before I did. She was cured of all of those problems. She then told Dr. Carney that I wanted to be her patient. But, Dr. Carney let her know she was not accepting any Type 1 diabetics into her practice because she did not have the time to devote to controlling a Type 1 diabetic. I wrote her a letter to let her know she would not need to worry about that because I had the Type 1 diabetes under control. In fact, I was not interested in having a doctor control my diabetes. However, I still needed a doctor that could write prescriptions for insulin because times have changed and I cannot get insulin, syringes or test strips without a prescription. I needed a doctor that would prescribe those without fighting about my control regime.

My control regime controls both ends. In other words, the traditional method is that you take insulin to bring the blood sugars down. Blood sugars are always ramping up and you're taking insulin to pull it back down again. With my method, I use the insulin to switch that to a continuous blood sugars down ramp instead of a continuous up ramp. I then use fruits to level the down-ramp. My doctors would completely freak out anytime I explained what I was doing and tell me "Ohhh.... you're going to crash and die." So, I just quit telling them.

I take the insulin so that I have a continuous downward trend. Then I use fruits to level it. So, as the blood sugar is coming down, but before it gets low, I'll have a piece of fruit. I have learned how much fruit to take for whatever the circumstance to coincide with the ramp-rate (in electronics that is called slew-rate) of the downward trend and level it off. This way I can maintain my blood sugar levels in the normal (70 to 100 mg/dl) range all the time instead of what is classed as diabetic levels. I didn't want the diabetic levels. I don't want to be a diabetic. I want normal levels. I am able to do it using my method. That always frightened all my other doctors who tell told me "you should never do that." But, I tell them "I have been doing it for decades."

The doctors would tell me that my A1c was "wrong" because it would always range from the low to middle 5's. The doctors would tell me that is outside the diabetic range. I would tell them "Yeah, but it is inside the normal range." They would tell me, "Yeah but you're a diabetic and diabetics should be over 6 like in the 7's or 8's or higher." And I would tell them "But, I don't want it there, because I know that is damaging."

My first doctor told me that no matter how well I controlled my diabetes I would definitely still have diabetic complications. He said, "just know that is going to happen." Now I know why he said that because if I had kept my range and control method as he prescribed, then yes, I would definitely have had complications by now. As it turns out now after almost three decades, I have no diabetic complications. I don't have any test results to show that I am a diabetic. Unless I tell the doctor's, they wouldn't know.

My eye doctor has told me that she can always tell a diabetic by looking at the capillaries in their retina. She can't see that in me. She told me that my retinas look like that of a child or young adult (30 or less years old). She retook my retina photos to be sure since I am 65. Interestingly, I was in my 30's when I changed my diet to whole food plant based. Apparently, I may have arrested "normal" deterioration around that time.

My life before the diabetes started, was on the Standard American Diet. During that time, I had issues like most Americans have. I had a really bad case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), for which the doctor just put me on medications, without mentioning anything about diet, apart from saying that diet didn't make any difference. The IBS was really chronic and problematic for me.

One day I was killing some time and walked into a health food store and started looking at some books and I noticed there was an article in one of the books about bowel issues. I thumbed through the book and read that bowel issues were a problem caused by insufficient fiber. The book showed the food items that had fiber, all of which were plants. So, I decided to give some of those foods a try. Within a week all of the colon issues were gone. I was astounded at the rapid rate of healing though I was still eating meat.

My diabetes onset took place over a period of about one month; from no symptoms to being carried to the hospital after being found passed out at my desk. It was a really quick transition. I had been going to the doctor for my IBS and my blood sugar levels were always normal. Then I found myself getting super thirsty, super tired and super weak and rapid weight loss. Throughout my prior life, I had always been overweight. I lost 40 pounds within that month down to 108 lbs. I was deathly weak and could barely walk. It was dangerous to drive. Just getting into the car was a struggle. I did manage to make it to work and the next thing I knew I was being carried out to the hospital. I had passed out at my desk. This all happened around Thanksgiving of 1988.

While still in the hospital and hooked up to IV's, I had a conversation with a fill-in physician who saved my life. I was in distress. I was swinging from blood sugars that were so high that I could barely maintain consciousness to low blood sugar induced convulsions. I had no idea what was going on. It was horrific. I did not think I was going to survive. It was terrifying. I felt completely helpless. After a few days in the hospital, I was expressing my fears to the fill-in physician, Dr. Talbert, who was standing in for my regular doctor while he was out of town. Dr. Talbert told me "No doctor can control your Type 1 diabetes. You need to be able to track it too quickly and the doctors can only see you occasionally at visits. That's impossible. You have to know what you are doing. You have to control it yourself." He explained that it would be like a back-seat driver telling you how to drive a car while you're driving wearing a blindfold.

That was really good news to me when Dr. Talbert said, "You have to learn to do it and you have to do it yourself". I thought "I feel more comfortable with that." It gave me hope. I decided to deal with it the same way I already practiced in my profession as a fault analysis engineer. I decided to log everything to find out what does what. By now I did have an idea that diet was involved. But, I had no idea how. I did know that what was being done was certainly not working. 

I got a standard engineering spiral bound notebook which became permanently attached to me. I would log my insulin dose, the time, what I was doing, and what I would eat. I knew, from my profession that you had to reduce the variables. So, I narrowed the food down to as simple as I could possibly get it. I would just eat one thing for a long time and then another thing for a long time and log it. It really did not take very long for me to discover that eating meats and fats was really bad. Meat and/or fat gets the insulin out of sync and it is almost impossible to get the insulin to match with the food. It creates big spikes and valleys and made it impossible to get a straight line.

My logs morphed in time as I gained understanding. I still log but the logs that I use now are very simple. Perhaps I could be okay now without logging but I am more comfortable maintaining the logs. It is just a part of me. I would feel lost without it. But I no longer log the food because I have it so well memorized that I no longer need to track it. Also, I originally had to count calories to match the insulin, but that went away when I started my both-ends control scheme. Now, as long as I keep animal products and fat out of my diet, I can eat indiscriminately without issue.

1989 was the year that I figured out the diet by trial and error. In the beginning I weighed everything, vegetables, fruits, starches, everything! I also counted calories and logged it all to calculate my insulin dose. Now since I maintain a constant downward trend in blood sugar I don't worry about it. I am not going to get a blood sugar spike. I can eat really high glycemic foods, such as potatoes until I am miserably stuffed and I still won't get a spike. I still have to fill in later with some fruit or something to keep from dropping too low. And this is controlled with about one quarter of the amount of insulin I used to take before when I was eating meats and fats.

Sometimes, but rarely, I have gotten 'contaminated' with a film of olive oil or sliver of avocado "sneaked" into a salad. The effects will last for about a month. It becomes difficult to get the insulin to match (sync) with the food in order to maintain a normal straight line without blood sugar swinging up and down.

The reason I believe people don't discover this is because it takes two days before the effect starts, then about two weeks before it begins to subside and a month to get back to normal. The effect is just too slow to make the connection to any particular thing eaten. If a person has just a 'little bit' of oil once per month, they will never ever know what it feels like to be insulin sensitive. The problem is they won't notice because it takes so long to start, it is such a slow ramp of change and it has a super slow recovery time. This is true for the non-diabetic as well. The only difference is that in the non-diabetic, the insulin/blood-sugar control loop is still functioning. It is maintaining normal blood-sugars although struggling to do so. This makes fats appear benign. So, basically, having a "little" fat once a month (or less) you will never ever get to the point where you know what feel-good actually feels like. From my experience, I don't believe there is any such a thing as 'a little bit' of oil. Any is too much. It creates insulin resistance. And - it's not just oil. Any ingredient in any dish that contains more than 10% calories from fat does the same thing as oil, just scalable less with oil being 100% fat. I have also found that it is virtually impossible to get too little fat. Even raw lettuce contains 8% fat. Celery has 9%. You only need 6% or less. Over the past three decades of being an obsessive fat-free fanatic, I have yet to find a minimum.

Some key concepts covered in detail in my blogs are Insulin Resistance, Insulin Sensitivity and Ramp Rate. Insulin sensitivity is an opposite term to insulin resistance. With metabolism, glucose is your fuel. Insulin is like the fuel injectors on your car. Insulin is a hormone that injects glucose into the cells to be metabolized much like the fuel injectors, of your car, inject gas into the cylinders to be burned. If the injectors are clogged, that is like insulin resistance. You have the fuel available but you can't get it into the cells. You should be burning it, but you can't burn it. When we have insulin resistance, just like your car with clogged fuel injectors, we have less energy - like your car, we feel tired. Insulin sensitivity is when the injectors are super clean. Everything is working top notch. The fuel is there, its flow is unhindered and you burn it right away. When we have insulin sensitivity we feel like we have boundless energy.

Ramp Rate can be measured over time and calculated. It is a rate of change. It can be charted and graphed. You always want your blood sugar levels to stay in the normal range and to not change too fast. The range I have chosen is 70 to 100 mg/dl. When the rate changes too fast it just doesn't feel good. If it drops really fast I feel nervous. When it rises really fast I feel sluggish. Actually, anytime blood sugar rises is because it is not being burned fast enough, making you tired.

Ken Climbing on a Playground Structure

My expectations about life before the diabetes was for me to be in line with my family. When all the people I knew started getting near their fifties, their health would start failing and they would have all these problems like heart disease and diabetes. When the diabetes hit me, I wasn't sure I was going to survive it. But now after I have started living this lifestyle, my amazement is that the potential for a good life is so far beyond all of that. It is beyond what I could have ever imagined.

I am now 65 and I feel better than I did when I was 20. I weigh less than I did when I was 20 but have measurably more strength. I enjoy working on cars. Now at the age of 65 I can take a break over wrench and put it on a lug nut at 150 pounds of torque and take it off using one arm. I used to need to use both arms and leverage the weight of my body to do that. I never would have thought that would happen at the age of 65. Insulin sensitivity appears to increase our strength as the system burns fuel efficiently.

As such, it is no surprise to me that the world's strongest man record holder, as of 20 September 2015, happens to be vegan. His name is Patrick Baboumian. How do you beat that? I think this has been the way things have always worked. Plant eaters are stronger. Mankind started killing and eating animals, mistakenly thinking it would make them strong. But it is the animals that are not carnivores that are the strongest. The herbivores have strength and stamina far beyond the carnivores. The carnivores have kill power because they have built in killing apparatus, not because they are stronger. The meat industry capitalizes on these misconceptions. But, now at this point in my life I can see the absurdity of the meat and milk industry.

Watching the children of family and friends growing up, it is apparent to me that children naturally prefer plant based foods. They have to be taught to eat meat. This is so ingrained in our society that the parents are not even aware they are teaching them to eat meat. But, the foods they always gravitate to are fruits and vegetables. I can't count the many times I have witnessed a child not being excused from the table until after they have eaten their meat.

A few years back (2012) my life got really happy, beyond just the health benefits, when I discovered that there was actually a plant based community, other people who lived like this. I discovered Dr. McDougall, Dr. Esselstyn, a long list of others, and of course Dr. Carney. Then I started attending health events like the Healthfest in Marshall Texas, the ATX Alive PlantPure Potlucks in Austin Texas and many more. All of this is extremely thrilling to me because previous to this I felt very alone in my dietary lifestyle.

Ken Climbing on Rock

About a year after the diabetes onset, and after I had things in check by eating a plant based diet, things became more normal. I was a member of the singles group at a local church. Most of the people were late teens and early 20s. I was almost 40 at the time. The group went on a trip to Six Flags Over Texas in Dallas. We got there early in the morning when the gates opened. I had a ball all day until they closed the gates late at night. I was overflowing with energy. The rest of the people were exhausted. They became annoyed with me because I wanted to walk to the vehicle and not take the tram. That was a real eye opener for me. I had only been plant based for a year. I realized then how great I was starting to feel and how much energy I had. It has been that way ever since. It was an Aha moment.

I had similar experiences when I used to be a skydiver before we moved to Austin. I would often want to land way out so we can have an adventurous walk back through the countryside. But, nobody else was interested. The difference was the food.

Ken Performing Parachute Landing

I now know what food is and what isn't food. I love it. Before I thought I loved food. I thought I loved a juicy steak. I was single and would buy myself fancy filet mignon and fish filets and really fancy stuff and I thought it was wonderful. But, the tastes that I get now from plant based foods far exceeds any flavor I enjoyed before. At that time, I would never have imagined that would happen. Eating this way is not a struggle at all. This is what now feels natural.

Traveling or social meetings used to prove a challenge to me. But, it has been so long for me that now it is no big deal. I am used to it. We prepare before we travel, mapping out grocery stores like whole foods and make sure we have plenty of food with us. The foods I previously loved would taste awful to me now. Learning curves are always difficult but only while you are learning. Once you have learned things become easy and routine. This is the easiest way to live.

The care I received from Dr. Carney is a polar opposite to any care I ever received before. I had some expectations when I found her on the list of plant based doctors on Dr. McDougall's site. Before I met Dr. Carney I never knew what a real doctor was. Dr. Carney is a REAL doctor, one who is genuinely interested in making you healthy instead of just treating your disease. Visiting all the other doctors was like being on an assembly line or a cattle chute. Extremely impersonal. But, Dr. Carney changed that view. I now realize that she is what a doctor is supposed to be.

I have been able to help other Type 1 diabetics through my Member Blogs on DrCarney.com, through conversations at the ATX Alive potluck, through lunch with Type 1 diabetics at Dr. Carney's office that Dr. Carney arranged in order for me to talk with other Type 1 diabetics. When traveling we meet people and share with them. I wrote a blog called Be Careful What You Pray For! about one of those encounters. Spoiler alert: This way of eating is not a sacrifice.

I grew up in Texas cattle and oil country. We all believed that you could not survive more than three months without eating meat. At the time, that made sense to me and I believed it. But after I started eating plant based and three months passed I was surprised because I was feeling better and better. I was definitely not dying. So, I never ate another piece of meat again.

Not only has my experience proven to me that a Whole Food Plant Based life style is the best, it is also proven by the people I know. Everyone I know; members of the McDougall forum, member of the ATX Alive potluck and many others that are living a WFPB lifestyle are all in great health and growing healthier. Everyone I know who are living on the Standard American Diet; their health is in a steady decline. That is 100%. Everybody I have ever met who is following this lifestyle has gotten dramatically better or is in the process of getting better. That is also 100%. This is the way things should be. It is how the human system works best.

For Further Discussion:

Sign up to interact with Ken in the Social Network at DrCarney.com

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More Information:

(1) Read all of Ken's blogs starting from the back and work your way up

(2) Discussion explaining how Insulin Resistance prevents weight loss

(3) Low-Carb Theory Regarding Meat/Insulin is Flawed

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