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January 1, 1885

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The disease of diabetes is described by Dr Tyson, who suggests that it is easy to cure with a dietary regimen - The efficiency of this treatment depends upon the successful elimination from the diet of all articles containing grape-sugar, cane-sugar, beetroot-sugar, and starch, it being universally recognized that in the early stages of the disease these foods are the sole source of the glucose in the urine.





Diabetes Mellitus by James Tyson A.M. M.D.


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Diabetes mellitus is a term applied to a group of symptoms more or less complex, of which the most conspicuous is an increased flow of saccharine urine—whence the symptomatic title. It is associated with a derangement of the sugar-assimilating office of the liver, as the result of which an abnormally large quantity of glucose is passed into the hepatic vein and thence into the systemic blood, from which it is secreted by the kidneys. The condition is sometimes associated with alterations in the nervous system, at others with changes in the liver or pancreas, while at others, still, it is impossible to discover any structural alterations accompanying it.

Dr. Pavy has recently put forward some chemical theories which explain the action of the hyperæmia in producing glycosuria, but they do not account for the hyperæmia itself. In healthy digestion the carbohydrates (starch and sugar) are converted, not into glucose, but into maltose, C12H22O11, dextrin being intermediate in composition. Maltose is absorbed and assimilated, converted into glycogen. So, too, when glucose is ingested as such, it is converted by the glucose ferment into maltose in the stomach and intestines. For the proper production of maltose and its assimilation a good venous blood, producing a maltose-forming ferment, is necessary. In diabetes, in consequence of the dilatation of the arteries of the chylopoëtic viscera, the blood enters the liver too little deoxygenated, and a glucose-forming ferment is produced. The glucose thus formed is not assimilable, but passes off into the circulation and the urine.

ETIOLOGY.—The problem of the etiology of diabetes mellitus is as unsatisfactorily solved as is that of its pathogenesis. Certainly, a majority of cases of diabetes cannot be accounted for. A certain number may be ascribed to nervous shock, emotion, or mental anxiety; a few to overwork; some to injury and disease of the nervous system; others to abuses in eating and drinking. Among the injuries said to have caused diabetes are blows upon the skull and concussions communicated to the brain, spinal cord, or vaso-motor centres through other parts of the body. Hereditation is held responsible for a certain number of cases. Malarial and continued fevers, gout, rheumatism, cold, and sexual indulgence have all been charged with producing diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus is most common in adult life, although Dickinson reports a case at six years which was fatal, Bence Jones a case aged three and a half, and Roberts another three years old; and in the reports of the Registrar-General of England for the years 1851-60 ten deaths under the age of one and thirty-two under the age of three are included. This statement, in view of the experience of the difficulties of diagnosis in children so young, seems almost incredible. I have never myself met a case in a child under twelve years. At this age I have known two, of which one, a boy, passed from under my notice, while the second, a girl, recovered completely. The disease is most common between the ages of thirty and sixty. The oldest patient I have ever had died of the disease at seventy-two years, having been under my observation for three and a half years.

It is decidedly more frequent in men than in women, carefully prepared statistics of deaths in Philadelphia during the eleven years from 1870 to 1880, inclusive, giving a total of 206 deaths, of which 124, or three-fifths, were males, and 82, or two-fifths, females. This is the experience of all.

My own experience has been singular and interesting. Up to April, 1881, I had never met a case in a woman. Of 18 cases outside of hospital practice which I have noted since that date, 9 were men and 9 women. But I still do not recall an instance of a woman in hospital practice, although I have constantly cases among men.

Not much that is accurate can be said of the geographical distribution of the disease. It seems to be more common in England and Scotland than in this country, at least if the statistics of New York and Philadelphia are considered. In the former city, statistics extending over three and a fourth years show that out of 1379 deaths, 1 was caused by diabetes; in Philadelphia, in eleven years, 1 out of 875; in England and Wales, according to Dickinson from observations extending over ten years, 1 out of 632; and in Scotland, 1 out of 916. According to the same authority, the disease is more prevalent in the agricultural counties of England, and of these the cooler ones, Norfolk, Suffolk, Berkshire, and Huntingdon. According to Senator, it is more common in Normandy in France; rare, statistically, in Holland, Russia, Brazil, and the West Indies, while it is common in India, especially in Ceylon, and relatively very frequent in modern times in Wurtemberg and Thuringia. Seegen says it is more [p. 204]frequent among Jews than among Christians, but I have never seen a case in a Hebrew.

Changes in diet of course modify the secretion of sugar, starches and saccharine foods increasing it, while nitrogenous and oily foods diminish it. So, too, the urine secreted on rising in the morning has almost always less sugar in it than that passed on retiring; and it is not rare to find no sugar in urine passed on rising, when that passed on retiring at night may contain a small amount of sugar—from ¼ to 1 per cent. On the other hand, I have found a small amount of sugar in the morning urine when the evening urine contained none. Anxiety and excitement both increase the proportion of sugar.

DURATION.—Diabetes is a disease of which the duration is measured by months and years, and although cases are reported in which death supervened in from six days to six weeks after the recognition of the disease, it is evident that such periods do not necessarily measure its actual duration. The disease may have existed some time before coming under observation. On the other hand, a case is reported by Lebert which lasted eighteen years; another, under the successive observation of Prout and Bence Jones, sixteen years; and a third, under Bence Jones and Dickinson, fifteen years. The younger the patient the shorter usually is the course run and the earlier the fatal termination. Yet I have known a girl of twelve recover completely. After middle age the disease is usually so easily controlled by suitable dietetic measures, if the patient is willing to submit to them, that its duration is only limited by that of an ordinary life, while carelessness in this respect is apt to be followed by early grave consequences.

Again, it is well known that the later in life diabetes occurs the more amenable it is to treatment, and that if a proper diabetic diet be adhered to by the patient his life need scarcely be shortened. On the other hand, diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the expectant plan is dangerous. If it does not improve it usually gets worse; and many a patient has fallen a victim to his own indifference and indisposition to adhere to a regimen under which he could have lived his natural term of life. This is especially the case when the disease appears after middle life.

If, on the other hand, the condition becomes thoroughly established before twenty-five years of age, it is less amenable to treatment; but even in such cases a promptly vigorous treatment is sometimes followed by recovery. I have already mentioned the case of a child twelve years old in which complete recovery took place.

TREATMENT.—The treatment of the aggregate of symptoms known as diabetes mellitus is conveniently divided into the dietetic, the medicinal, and the hygienic, of which the first is by far the most important. The efficiency of this treatment depends upon the successful elimination from the diet of all articles containing grape-sugar, cane-sugar, beetroot-sugar, and starch, it being universally recognized that in the early stages of the disease these foods are the sole source of the glucose in the urine. The normal assimilative action of the liver, by which the carbohydrates are first stored up as glycogen, and then gradually given out as glucose or maltose to be oxidized, being deranged, such foods not only become useless as aliments, but if continued seem to aggravate the glycosuria, and the excretion of sugar steadily increases. There is, therefore, a double reason for excluding them from the food. This is easiest accomplished by an exclusive milk diet. The exclusive milk treatment of diabetes was suggested by A. Scott Donkin in 1868. That he is correct in his assertion that in the early stages of diabetes lactin or sugar of milk is quite assimilable, and does not in the slightest degree contribute to the production of glycosuria, I cannot doubt; that it is in this respect even superior to casein, as claimed by Donkin, I am not prepared to state from actual knowledge; but that casein itself resists the sugar-forming progress immeasurably greater than any other albuminous substance, so that in all but the most sure and advanced or complicated cases its arrest is complete, I am also satisfied. Certain it is that in a large number of diabetics the use of a pure skim-milk regimen results in a total disappearance of the sugar from the urine. That in a certain proportion of these cases a [p. 219]gradual substitution of the articles of a mixed diet may be resumed without a return of the symptoms is also true. In other more confirmed cases the use of skim-milk results in a decided reduction in the amount of sugar, with an abatement of other symptoms, which continues as long as the diet is rigidly observed. In still other cases, while the skim-milk treatment makes a decided impression upon the quantity of sugar, it still remains present in considerable amount, while the disease progresses gradually to an unfavorable issue. These three classes of cases represent, ordinarily, different stages of the disease, so that it may be said that as a rule cases recognized sufficiently early may be successfully treated with skim-milk, although it may occasionally happen that cases pursue a downward course from the very beginning despite all treatment. Yet I have never seen a case which, when taken in hand when a few grains of sugar only to the ounce were present, failed to yield to this treatment.

While I am confident that the promptest and most effectual method of eliminating sugar from the urine is by a milk diet, it occasionally happens that a patient cannot or will not submit to so strict a regimen. In other instances, again, it is not necessary to resort to it, because a less restricted diet answers every purpose.

A suitable diabetic diet would also be obtained by eliminating from the bill of fare all saccharine and amylaceous and other sugar-producing substances. Such a diet is, strictly speaking, impossible. For, apart from the fact just mentioned that even fats, as well as albuminous substances to a degree, are capable of producing glycogen, the monotony of a pure meat diet soon becomes unbearable, to say nothing of other derangements it may produce. Fortunately, it is not necessary that such an exclusive diet should be maintained, for certain saccharine foods seem capable of resisting the conversion into sugar more than others. Sugar of milk, or lactin, has already been mentioned as one of these, and to it may be added the sugar of some fruits, and probably also inosit or muscle-sugar, mannite or sugar of manna, and inulin, a starchy principle abundant in Iceland moss. It is found also that there are many vegetable substances containing small quantities of sugar and sugar-producing principles which may be used with impunity in at least the milder forms of diabetes. This being the case, a bill of fare for diabetics may be constructed quite liberal enough to satisfy the palate of most reasonable persons by whom it is attainable.

FOOD AND DRINK ADMISSIBLE.—Shell-fish.—Oysters and clams, raw and cooked in any way, without the addition of flour.

Fish of all kinds, fresh or salted, including lobsters, crabs, sardines, and other fish in oil.

Meats of every variety except livers, including beef, mutton, chipped dried beef, tripe, ham, tongue, bacon, and sausages; also poultry and game of all kinds, with which, however, sweetened jellies and sauces should not be used.

Soup.—All made without flour, rice, vermicelli, or other starchy substances, or without the vegetables named below as inadmissible. Animal soups not thickened with flour, beef-tea, and broths.

Vegetables.—Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels-sprouts, broccoli, green [p. 221]string-beans, the green ends of asparagus, spinach, dandelion, mushrooms, lettuce, endive, coldslaw, olives, cucumbers fresh or pickled, radishes, young onions, water-cresses, mustard and cress, turnip-tops, celery-tops, or any other green vegetables.

Fruits.—Cranberries, plums, cherries, gooseberries, red currants, strawberries, apples, without sugar. Or they may be stewed with the addition of bicarbonate of sodium instead of sugar. (See below.)

Bread and cakes made of gluten, bran, or almond flour, or inulin, with or without eggs and butter. Griddle-cakes, pancakes, biscuit, porridges, etc. made of these flours. Where especial stringency is required these should be altogether omitted.

Eggs in any quantity and prepared in all possible ways, without sugar or ordinary flours.

Nuts.—All except chestnuts, including almonds, walnuts, Brazil-nuts, hazel-nuts, filberts, pecan-nuts, butternuts, cocoanuts.

Condiments.—Salt, vinegar, and pepper in moderate quantities.

Jellies.—None except those unsweetened. They may be made of calf's-foot or gelatin and flavored with wine.

Drinks.—Coffee, tea, and cocoa-nibs, with milk or cream, but without sugar; also milk, cream, soda- (carbonated) water, and all mineral waters freely; acid wines, including claret, Rhine, and still Moselle wines, very dry sherry; unsweetened brandy, whiskey, and gin. No malt liquors, except those ales and beers which have been long bottled, and in which the sugar has all been converted into carbonic acid and alcohol.

Vegetables to be especially Avoided.—Potatoes, white and sweet, rice, beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, peas, and beans; all vegetables containing starch or sugar in any quantity.

The following list, including essentially the same articles, but arranged in the shape of a true bill of fare, by Austin Flint, Jr.,49 will be found very convenient:

BILL OF FARE FOR DIABETES.—Breakfast.—Oysters stewed, without flour; clams stewed, without flour. Beefsteak, beefsteak with fried onions, broiled chicken, mutton or lamb chops; kidneys, broiled, stewed, or devilled; tripe, pigs' feet, game, ham, bacon, devilled turkey or chicken, sausage, corned-beef hash without potato, minced beef, turkey, chicken, or game with poached eggs. All kinds of fish, fish-roe, fish-balls, without potato. Eggs cooked in any way except with flour or sugar, scrambled eggs with chipped smoked beef, picked salt codfish with eggs, omelets plain or with ham, with smoked beef, kidneys, asparagus-points, fine herbs, parsley, truffles, or mushrooms. Radishes, cucumbers, water-cresses, butter, pot-cheese. Tea or coffee, with a little cream and no sugar. (Glycerin may be used instead of sugar if desired.) Light red wine for those who are in the habit of taking wine at breakfast.

Lunch or Tea.—Oysters or clams cooked in any way except with flour; chicken, lobster, or any kind of salad except potato; fish of all kinds; chops, steaks, ham, tongue, eggs, crabs, or any kind of meat; head-cheese. Red wine, dry sherry, or Bass's ale.

[p. 222]Dinner.—Raw oysters, raw clams.

Soups.—Consommé of beef, of veal, of chicken, or of turtle; consommé with asparagus-points; consommé with okra, ox-tail, turtle, terrapin, oyster, or clam, without flour; chowder, without potatoes, mock turtle, mullagatawny, tomato, gumbo filet.

Fish, etc.—All kinds of fish, lobsters, oysters, clams, terrapin, shrimps, crawfish, hard-shell crabs, soft-shell crabs, (No sauces containing flour.)

Relishes.—Pickles, radishes, celery, sardines, anchovies, olives.

Meats.—All kinds of meat cooked in any way except with flour; all kinds of poultry without dressings containing bread or flour; calf's head, kidneys, sweetbreads, lamb-fries, ham, tongue; all kinds of game; veal, fowl, sweetbreads, etc., with curry, but not thickened with flour. (No liver.)

Vegetables.—Truffles, lettuce, romaine, chicory, endive, cucumbers, spinach, sorrel, beet-tops, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels-sprouts, dandelions, tomatoes, radishes, oyster-plant, celery, onions, string-beans, water-cresses, asparagus, artichoke, Jerusalem artichokes, parsley, mushrooms, all kinds of herbs.

Substitutes for Sweets.—Peaches preserved in brandy without sugar; wine-jelly without sugar, gelée au kirsch without sugar, omelette au rhum without sugar; omelette à la vanille without sugar; gelée au rhum without sugar; gelée au café without sugar.

Miscellaneous.—Butter, cheese of all kinds, eggs cooked in all ways except with flour or sugar, sauces without sugar or flour. Almonds, hazel-nuts, walnuts, cocoanuts. Tea or coffee with a little cream and without sugar. (Glycerin may be used instead of sugar if desired.) Moderately palatable ice-creams and wine-jellies may be made, sweetened with pure glycerin; but although these may be quite satisfactory for a time, they soon become distasteful.

Alcoholic Beverages.—Claret, burgundy, dry sherry, Bass's ale or bitter beer. (No sweet wines.)

Prohibited.—Ordinary bread; cake, etc. made with flour or sugar; desserts made with flour or sugar; vegetables, except those mentioned above; sweet fruits.

49 "On the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus," a paper read before the American Medical Association at its meeting in Washington, May, 1884, and published in the Journal of the association July 12, 1884. I have so far modified the bill of fare as to permit the use of milk, which Flint excludes.

One of the foods the omission of which is most illy borne by the diabetic, however great his previous indifference to it, is wheaten bread, while the substitutes which have been at different times suggested for it very imperfectly supply its place. Perhaps the best known of these is the bread made of gluten flour. It was suggested by Bouchardat in 1841, and is made by washing the ordinary wheat flour to free it from starch.50

50 The Health Food Company, of 74 Fourth Avenue, N.Y., prepare a gluten flour by first removing the five bran-coats, pulverizing the cleaned berry by the cold-blast process, stirring the powder into iced water, and precipitating the gluten, cellulose, and mineral matters, siphoning off the water holding in suspension the starch, and drying out the precipitate. In this manner the salts of the wheat are retained. A purified gluten made by the Health Food Company is deprived of the cellulose walls of the cells in which the gluten granules are held. Directions for making gluten bread and cakes of various kinds are furnished by the company on application.

Gluten flour, however prepared, contains some starch, as indeed it must if bread is to be made out of it; and I confess to having been a good deal disappointed in its use. I have known the sugar absent in a [p. 223]selected diet to return when gluten bread was permitted, and again disappear on its withdrawal. Of course gluten flour contains less starch than the ordinary wheat flour, and there may be cases where the starch in the former can be assimilated when the quantity in the latter cannot be. The gluten may be made into porridge.51

51 Gluten porridge is made by stirring the gluten into boiling water until thick enough, and then keeping up the boiling process for fifteen minutes. A little salt and butter are added at the close to improve the flavor, and it may be eaten with milk or cream.

A method of getting rid of the starch and sugar in bread, suggested by Liebig and tried by Vogel, consists in converting the starch into sugar by the action of diastase and dissolving out the sugar thus produced. This is accomplished by treating thin slices of bread with an infusion of malt. The bread is then washed, dried, and slightly toasted.

Another substitute for wheaten flour is the bran flour whence the starch is removed by washing.52 The bran itself, according to Parkes,53 sometimes contains as much as 15 per cent. of nitrogenous matter, 3.5 per cent. of fats, and 5.7 per cent. of salts. It is therefore not wholly innutritious, although the salts are washed out in removing the starch. It is considered especially useful when there is constipation, the slightly irritant properties of the bran aiding in maintaining a proper peristalsis and action of the bowels. These irritant properties are, however, inversely as the degree of comminution. The bran flour may be made with milk and eggs into a variety of cakes, of which the best known are those made according to Camplin's directions.54

52 A very carefully prepared bran flour, as well as a wheat-gluten flour, is prepared by John W. Sheddon, pharmacist, corner of Broadway and Thirty-fourth street, New York City.
53 Practical Hygiene, 5th ed., Philadelphia, 1878, p. 222.
54 The following are Camplin's directions for making biscuit of bran flour: To one quarter of a pound of flour add three or four fresh eggs, one and a half ounces of butter, and half a pint of milk; mix the eggs with a little of the milk, and warm the butter with the other portion; then stir the whole together well; add a little nutmeg or ginger or other agreeable flavoring, and bake in small forms or patterns. The cake, when baked, should be about the thickness of an ordinary captain's biscuit. The pans must be well buttered. Bake in rather a quick oven for half an hour. These cakes or biscuits may be eaten by the diabetic with meat or cheese for breakfast, dinner, or supper; at tea they require rather a free allowance of butter, or they may be eaten with curd or any soft cheese.

Where extreme restriction of diet is not required the ordinary bran bread of the bakers may be used. The unbolted flour of which this is made of course contains the starchy principles, but in consequence of the retention of the bran the proportion of starch is less. The cold-blast flour of the Health Food Company is said to contain the nutritious, but not the innutritious, parts of the bran.55

55 It is made by pulverizing the carefully cleaned wheat by a compressed, cold air blast, which strikes the wheat and dashes it to atoms.

The almond food suggested by Pavy is another substitute for bread. The almond is composed of 54 per cent. of oil, 24 per cent. of nitrogenized matter known as emulsin, 6 per cent. of sugar, and 3 per cent. of gum, but no starch enters into its composition. Theoretically, therefore, the food should be everything that can be desired if the gum and sugar can be removed. The latter is done by treating the powdered almonds with boiling water slightly acidulated with tartaric acid, or soaking the almonds in a boiling acidulated liquid which may form a part of the process for blanching. The boiling and acid are necessary to precipitate [p. 224]the emulsin, which would otherwise emulsify the oil of the almond. Pavy speaks well of biscuit made of almond flour and eggs, which he says go very well with a little sherry or other wine, although he admits they are found too rich by some for ordinary consumption. One person only under my observation has used the almond food, and found it unpalatable.

Seegen recommends an almond food made as follows: Beat a quarter of a pound of blanched sweet almonds in a stone mortar for about three-quarters of an hour, making the flour as fine as possible; put the flour thus obtained into a linen bag, which is then immersed for an hour and a quarter in boiling water acidulated with a few drops of vinegar. The mass is thoroughly mixed with three ounces of butter and two eggs; the yolks of three eggs and a little salt are added, and the whole is to be stirred briskly for a long time. A fine froth made by beating the white of the three eggs is added. The whole paste is now put into a form smeared with melted butter and baked by a gentle fire.

Biscuits made of inulin, the starchy principle largely contained in Iceland moss, were suggested by Kuelz. Although a starch, it is one of the assimilable ones alluded to, of which small quantities at least may be taken as food without appearing in the urine as sugar. The biscuits are made with the addition of milk, eggs, and salt, and are inexpensive.

To some persons sugar is almost as imperative a necessity as bread, although to many it is not a very great sacrifice to omit it from ordinary cooking, if not from tea and coffee. For the latter it is just as well to dispense with sugar altogether. But where patients feel that they must have some substitute for sugar, glycerin has been suggested for this purpose, at least for sweetening tea and coffee. But Pavy has noted56 that under the use of glycerin the urine increased from three and three and three-fourth pints to between five and six pints, and the sugar from 1100 grains to 3000 grains per diem, in the course of three days. Its withdrawal was followed by a prompt fall in both the urine and sugar, a return to it by a second increase, and subsequent withdrawal by another decline. Along with the increase of urine and sugar came also more thirst and discomfort. An examination of the chemical composition of glycerin would seem to confirm these results of experience. Glycerin is represented by C3H8O3, sugar by C6H12O3, and glycogen by C6H10O5; whence it is evident that a conversion of glycerin into sugar may take place in the liver. These facts seem to show conclusively that glycerin is no suitable substitute for sugar. I therefore do not use it.

56 On Diabetes, London, 1869, p. 259.

From what has been said it may be inferred that sugar of milk, mannite, and lævulose, or fruit-sugar, are admissible where sugar is demanded. They may be tried, but the urine should be carefully examined under their use, and if glycosuria occur or be increased they should be promptly omitted.

Almost every purpose of sugar in the cooking of acid vegetables is served by bicarbonate of sodium or potassium. As much bicarbonate of potassium to the pound as will lie upon a quarter of a dollar will neutralize the acidity of most fruits which require a large amount of sugar to mask this property. In this manner cranberries, plums, cherries, gooseberries, red currants, strawberries, apples, peaches, and indeed [p. 225]all fruits to which sugar is usually added in the cooking, become available to the diabetic.

In the matter of drinks, where the patient is not on a skim-milk diet, which usually affords as much liquid as is required by the economy, little restraint need be placed upon the consumption of water, which is demanded to replace that secreted with the sugar. Instead of water, Apollinaris water, Vichy, or the ordinary carbonated water may be used if preferred, and to many they are much more refreshing by reason of the carbonic acid they hold in suspension. Apollinaris water is particularly so, and one of my patients, who recovered completely under a suitable selected diet with which this mineral water was permitted, insists that it was that which cured her.

Where a simple selected diet is adopted, tea and coffee without sugar are usually permitted. The propriety of the substitutes for sugar already referred to must be determined by circumstances.

Of distilled and fermented liquors, moderate quantities of whiskey and brandy, dry sherry and madeira, the acid German and French wines—in fact, any non-saccharine wines—may be permitted. A medical friend who reports himself about cured of diabetes writes me that he has consumed eighty gallons of Rhine wine since he began to adhere closely to a diabetic diet. On the other hand, the free use of the stronger alcoholic drinks has been charged with causing diabetes, and I have known such use to produce a recurrence of sugar. No malt liquors, except those in which the sugar has been completely converted into carbonic acid and alcohol, should be used. Bass's ale may be allowed where no especial stringency is required.

Topics: (click image to open)

The harm of eating carbohydrates.
Facultative Carnivore
Facultative Carnivore describes the concept of animals that are technically omnivores but who thrive off of all meat diets. Humans may just be facultative carnivores - who need no plant products for long-term nutrition.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet involves eating only animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, marrow, meat broths, organs. There are little to no plants in the diet.
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