Saturday, October 29, 2011

Safe Starch Debate: A Diabetic's Perspective

There is a debate raging in the low carb blogosphere about the concept of "safe starches." Here is the start of the debate; here is Paul Jaminet's initial response, and here is the latest installment, featuring Dr. Ron Rosedale, with an response coming on Tuesday from Paul Jaminet.

One thing all sides have said: We do not necessarily recommend "safe starches" for diabetics. Well, I am a type II diabetic and a Perfect Health Diet follower, so I want to chime in with my experience.

First off, I have lost about 62 pounds, but 55 of that came following the diet described in the back of Gary Taubes' book, Why We Get Fat, which I later learned was the Atkins Induction phase. This helped to stabilize my blood glucose levels in about three weeks time, as well as returning my blood pressure to a normal range. But then I stalled and started reading more broadly about low carb diets. I discovered Gary Taubes didn't have all the answers, and I switched from the Atkins Induction diet to the Perfect Health Diet. I have been eating rice, potatoes, bananas, and other safe starches ever since, as well as fermented dairy products, such as plain, whole milk yogurt. I have also slowly lost another seven pounds. I enthusiastically recommend the book, Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet.

Today, my fasting blood glucose reading was 105. Note that since following the Perfect Health Diet, my fasting blood glucose reading has gone down. Previously, I was suffering from the "dawn phenomenon." My blood glucose levels overall were well below 140 one hour after a meal and 120 two hours after a meal. Only my fasting BG reading was out of whack, usually between 120 and 130, first thing in the morning.

For dinner tonight, I had a fatty pork rib, green beans, and a small baked potato with butter and sour cream. For dessert, I had a half cup of vanilla ice cream. One hour after eating, my blood glucose level was 128 and two hours after, it was 112.

So not only am I losing weight on the Perfect Health Diet, my blood glucose levels have actually improved, thanks to the increased carbs counteracting the dawn phenomenon, just as Dr. Kurt Harris (another proponent of safe starches) said it would.

So for me, as a type II diabetic, this "safe starches" exclusion is pointless. I realize that I have greatly helped my diabetes situation by losing a lot of weight prior to switching to the Perfect Health Diet.  And I am taking Metformin Extended Release pills every day. Nevertheless, despite the type II diabetes, I am doing just fine on the Perfect Health Diet, thank you. I reject the diabetic exclusion of safe starches.


  1. Have you seen this research from Staffan Lindeberg? Seems you are not alone re diabetes and safe starches.

  2. Hi Beth. No, I hadn't previously seen that study. Thank you for bringing it to my attention! It's now in my "arsenal."

  3. Oh, and congratulations on being the volunteer chair for AHS 2012. I may have to attend this time around.

  4. Curious Newell, are you still taking T2 drugs?

  5. Hi Big Tim. Yes, I am still taking Metformin (extended release). I got off of insulin after about three weeks on a low carb diet, then switched from Janumet to Metformin ER shortly thereafter. I really should have mentioned that in this post. My bad.

  6. No worries..have you thought about stopping it? How close to your goal are you now? I quit my Metformin and Actos 2 weeks into living Primal/Paleo, and consider myself cured, however I still am following a relatively low carb Paleo/Primal plan and am not ready to introduce potatoes & rice back in yet.

    My BG fasting numbers are routinely in the 90-110 range, and very rarely does it get higher than 125 now, lows on fasting days are in the 85-90 range. I've been this way since Mid May.

    I started on 4/28/11 and my fasting BG was 190 taking the 2 drugs, 2 weeks Primal, they were in the 140 range, that's when I stopped them, and at 30 days it was 125. haven't taken them since, and the food has regulated it along with CrossFit, and I'm down 44lbs in 6 months now.

    Would be interesting to see if you stopped the Metformin as the long term side effects were what I was worried about with these drugs. I am happier and healthier than i've ever been, and at just 43 yrs old, have bought myself a heck of a lot more time. You can see my results out on facebook as I just posted my 6 month results yesterday. :-D


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