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Low Carb Study

Low Carb Study

Recent History

March 30, 1889

Treatment of glycosuria


Dr Purdy explains his dietary treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes which is generally a ketogenic or carnivore diet. "Step by step the more objectionable foods should be cut off until sugar ceases to appear in the urine, or until we reach almost —indeed in some cases an absolute—animal diet."

It is customary to consider glycosuria under two forms : First .—A milder manifestation of the disease in which only small amounts of sugar appear in the urine, and these often intermittently; while the general health of the patient suffers little or no disturbance. Second .—A more severe type of the disease characterized by excessively saccharine urine, great thirst, polyuria, emaciation, etc., leading more or less rapidly to extreme marasmus and death. The first form is chiefly of reflex origin, and hence its milder type and rarely fatal termination ; while the second form is doubtless of central origin, and consequently more pronounced and serious in its consequences. In a systematic consideration of the management of glycosuria it is important that these two types of the malady be constantly kept in mind.

Physiological chemistry has shown us that glycosuria expresses itself chiefly through disturbance of the glycogenic function of the liver. Claude Bernard extended our knowledge a step farther, and showed that the elemental cause consists of some disturbance of the central nervous system, closely corresponding to the vasor-motor centre. All attempts, however, to unravel the nature of this disturbance through the aid of morbid anatomy have proved thus far entirely futile. It is well to remember, however, that in careful scientific research, failure often teaches us valuable lessons, and, indeed, often furnishes useful information. The very fact that the study of morbid anatomy in glycosuria has failed to reveal uniform and tangible lesions of the central nervous system goes far to form a presumption that if lesions exist in these cases they can scarcely be sufficiently grave in themselves to cause fatal results. Our present knowledge of the nature and course of glycosuria is quite in harmony with this presumption ; for indeed we find the cause of death uniformly to depend upon the perverted function of organs widely apart from the brain. Moreover, if the perverted function of these organs can be corrected and held under control the patient may survive almost indefinitely.

Without entering into the discussion of the many theoretical questions with which, unfortunately, our knowledge of glycosuria is at present so deeply involved, let us more practically inquire, What facts have we at command upon which to base a rational system of managing the disease ? We know that the chief expression of glycosuria is a perverted elaboration of the hydrocarbon foods in the liver, resulting in their conversion into grape-sugar. We know that the surcharging of the blood with large quantities of this sugar, not only gravely alters the nutritive qualities of the blood ; but it is also liable to induce chemico- toxic changes in that fluid, which are dangerous to life. We know, in short, that the perverted elaboration of so large a proportion of the food supply as that of the hydrocarbonaceous, the saturation of the tissues with the resulting morbid products, and the necessary efforts at their elimination, lead to altered nutrition, emaciation, wasting of the vital forces of the economy, secondary disease of important organs; and to that complex of morbid processes that in glycosuria bring about exhaustion and death. Now, obviously, if we can succeed in cutting off completely the supply of such foods as are prone to faulty elaboration—for the most part the hydrocarbons —we shall not only arrest the perverted liver function ; but we shall also save the system from the damaging effects of the morbid products poured into it through faulty elaboration of food, and thus practically arrest the regressive changes that lead to such grave results.

If we had to deal only with the purely hydrocarbon foods as the exclusive source of sugar production in the economy, our problem would be a comparatively simple one; since a thoroughly nourishing and sustaining diet can be furnished exclusive of these. But while the hydocarbons are the chief, they are not always the only source of sugar production. Experimental investigation has shown that when animals were fed on purely nitrogenous foods—even for lengthy periods of time—a small amount of glycogen still continued to be present in their livers. In the most grave forms of diabetes, the “ sugar-forming vice” of the organism becomes so strong that the liver seems capable of splitting up a portion of the nitrogenous foods, and even of the albumenoids of the tissues, and of transforming a part of these into sugar. Fortunately such cases are for the most part long- neglected or advanced ones. Although much may be accomplished even here in retarding the disease, yet it may, as a rule, be considered progressive towards a fatal termination.

The sugar-forming powers of the organism in glycosuria are feeblest in their operation upon nitrogenous materials ; indeed in the early stages of the disease it is probable that these always escape sugar transformation. Next in order come the green parts of certain vegetables, which very strongly resist sugar transformation. The hydrocarbons offer the least resisting power of all foods to sugar transformation, and of this class starch is the most dangerous element.

Practically then the more completely we are able to eliminate the hydrocarbons from the food supply in glycosuria, the more completely will we be able to bring and to hold the disease under control. Certain allowances must lie made for individual idiosyncrasies, as well as for a few exceptional articles of diet, which'experience has shown us are sometimes well borne—even when their classification would seem to contraindicate their use. To speak more accurately then, the more completely we are able to supply the system with that which it can appropriate as nourishment, and at the same time the more completely we can eliminate that which is convertible into sugar the more successful will be the treatment. Now, in view of the above facts, which I have endeavored to present as carefully separated from theoretical speculations as possible, it seems indeed strange that more earnest efforts are not made in the management of glycosuria—especially in the more pronounced types of the disease—to supply more nearly that diet upon which almost alone depends the improvement or cure of these cases. I shall first point out what seem to me the more prominent errors commonly made in dieting in the severe type of the disease, giving a list of the admissible foods ; after which I shall note some of the liberties of diet that may be indulged in the milder reflex forms ; and lastly, I shall refer to the influence of drugs over the disease.

First in importance comes the question of bread, some form of which containing starch is permitted in all the diet lists I have seen. Now I do not hesitate to state, without fear of successful contradiction, that all the so-called diabetic flours, breads, and cakes in the market of which I have any knowledge, are loaded with hydrocarbons. They are “ a snare and a delusion,” and have unquestionably shortened the lives of thousands. Most samples of gluten flour, from which the starch is claimed to have been eliminated—or nearly so—contain from 20 to 40 per cent, of starch. I saw in Dr. Pavy’s laboratory in London a few months since an analysis of one of the so-called diabetic flours on sale in our markets, which showed the starch contents to be nearly 60 per cent. Long before I became aware of these facts I found that I could not control typical cases of diabetes if I permitted the use of commercial flours so-called “diabetic.” I need scarcely add that with the above figures before me I have discarded them altogether.

The withdrawal of bread from the diet usually constitutes the most serious deprivation the diabetic patient has to encounter, although the appetite for bread is more largely a matter of taste and habit than of necessity. Some patients become quite reconciled to the change after a few weeks and do not mind it, but usually the craving for bread of some kind remains more or less strong, and will not be supplanted by the use of other foods. In the latter class of cases, if strict dieting be demanded, I permit the moderate use of bread made from almond flour as first practiced, I believe, by Dr. Pavy. The almond is absolutely free from starch, but contains about 6 per cent, ot sugar. The latter may be eliminated by boiling the meal in acidulated water for an hour or so and then straining it. The almond meal is not on sale in the markets; the large percentage of its contained oil (50 per cent.) renders it unfit for keeping sufficiently long for commercial purposes. In my own practice I direct the meal to be made as required by means of mills especially constructed for the purpose. Almond flour, when beaten up with eggs, may be raised with the aid of a little baking powder, and baked in small tins in an oven, and the resulting bread is relished by most of my patients as equally palatable with ordinary bread. It should be borne in mind that almond bread, as indeed all substitutes for common bread, should be used in moderation ; otherwise patients deprived of other luxuries of food fly to the permitted bread with an avidity seemingly born of the thought that it is indeed the “staff of life’’ instead of merely a substitute therefor. To make a substituted article of diet go further than the original one is more than is to be expected, even in these practical days, and yet I am led to believe that the failure in accomplishing this in the case of almond bread has led to its unjust condemnation by some in these cases.

The next question of importance in diet—and one upon which authorities greatly differ, is the propriety of the use of milk in diabetes. Dr. Donkin, perhaps the most enthusiastic advocate in its favor, published a book in 1871, which was devoted to the exclusive use of milk as a means of treating this disease. In England Dr. Donkin's so-called “ milk cure ” has met with few if any weighty supporters; on the contrary, many advocate the total exclusion of milk from the diet. My own experience in the use of milk in the treatment of diabetes began nine years ago since which time I have made thorough and varied trials of it, both as an exclusive and as an adjunct diet. My conclusions are that milk is successful chiefly—perhaps only—in milder forms of the disease, such as I have termed reflex cases.

Such cases are, as a rule, controllable by moderate limitations of diet, which offer greater range and nutritive power than does milk. In the more severe type of the disease I have repeatedly found when the diet was rigidly restricted, save in the use of milk, that the total exclusion of the latter without other change caused a prompt reduction, and often the disappearance of sugar from the urine.

Milk contains a very considerable amount of sugar (lactine), about half an ounce to each pint, and Dr. Pavy observes that this animal hydrocarbon “comports itself in the intestinal canal precisely as does grape-sugar.” There can be little doubt, therefore, that in the more pronounced type of diabetes requiring a strict diet, milk should be excluded from the list.

There is a form of glycosuria that occurs in obese and over-nourished subjects, in which the amount of sugar in the urine is usually small, and probably largely due to the ingestion of more hydrocarbons than the system is able to appropriate. Such cases are benefited, and indeed often cured, by a course of fasting. The “ milk cure ” consisting of the exclusive use of skimmed milk is likely to benefit such cases because it is, in fact, a system of starving.

Skimmed milk alone is not sufficient to long maintain proper nourishment to the organism. In pronounced diabetes of central origin, where the assimilative powers of the system are weakened, and more or less emaciation has already set in, it would, therefore, seem absolute folly to confine the patient to skimmed milk, for under such circumstances death from inanition must be but a question of a short time. Sir Wm. Roberts records three cases which he subjected to the ‘ ‘ milk cure ’ ’ with the result that they all succumbed in a short time My own experience is similar to Dr. Roberts’, save that I ceased to use it as an exclusive diet after seeing my first patient rapidly sink under its employment. It is important to bear in mind that lactine is confined to the whey, and consequently the other derivatives of milk—as cheese, cream, curds and butter—are unobjectionable.

Another food of animal source contraindicated in diabetes is liver. The liver of animals contains considerable sugar, as might be expected, considering the glycogenic function of that organ. Not only should the liver of quadrupeds be avoided, but certain fish, especially oysters and the interior of crabs and lobsters, since they possess proportionately very large livers. It has been claimed that this precaution is more in keeping with theory than practice, but a sufficient answer is furnished in the fact that analyses of oysters have shown as high a range as io per cent, of sugar.

The very wide distribution of starch and sugar throughout the vegetable kingdom renders our selection of food from this source limited indeed. In strict dieting we are obliged to avoid nearly the vyhole list of table vegetables. One class only are we at all safe in drawing upon—greens—and these with caution. Green vegetables fortunately consist mostly of cellulose and contain little, sometimes no starch or sugar. They are rendered still safer if boiled before being eaten ; the hot water further ensuring the absence of starch and sugar.

The starch and sugar composition of vegetables varies somewhat. This variation depends much upon the degree of cultivation, and the nature of the climate and soil in which they are produced. As a rule, a high degree of domestic cultivation favors an increase of starch and sugar, while high temperature and sunny skies have an opposite tendency. Among the least objectionable vegetables may be mentioned spinach, lettuce, olives, cucumbers, mushrooms, .Brussels sprouts, turnip tops, water-cresses, cabbage, cauliflower, and the green ends of asparagus. Nearly all nuts are unobjectionable, chestnuts forming an exception.

In the matter of beverages the diabetic patient will scarcely encounter very serious restrictions, since the range permitted includes most of those in domestic use, including many which fall within the line of luxuries. Among these may be mentioned tea, coffee, all mineral waters, pure spirits, as brandy, whisky, gin, and such wines as claret, Rhine wine and Burgundy,

Having briefly reviewed the food products applicable in glycosuria, I shall now enumerate the list I employ in dieting patients upon strict principles, as appropriate in the more severe type of true diabetes of central origin.


Meats of all kinds except livers; beef roasted, broiled, dried, smoked, cured, potted, or preserved in any way except with honey, sugar, or prohibited vegetables. Mutton, ham, tongue, bacon, sausages. Poultry and game of all kinds. Soups made from meats, without flour or prohibited vegetables. Eggs, butter, cheese, pure cream, curds, oil, gelatine and unsweetened jellies. Fish of all kinds except oysters and the inner parts of crabs and lobsters. Bread, biscuits, and cakes made from almond flour. Spinach, lettuce, olives, cucumbers, mushrooms, water-cresses, green cabbage. Almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, butternuts, cocoanuts. Salt, vinegar and pepper.

Drinks , tea and coffee, mineral waters, whisky, gin and brandy, in moderation. Claret and Rhine wine. In mild forms of glycosuria some additions may be safely made to the above diet, and often with advantage. Since in such cases the sugar-forming powers of the organism are weaker ; or, in other words, the assimilative powers for sugar and starch are greater, it is only necessary to limit, not to curtail the hydrocarbons. It seems necessary, therefore, to have at hand to draw upon a supplementary list of foods, which contain but limited amounts of these agents. The selection from the supplementary list should always be made with care; indeed, it should be almost as much a matter of experiment as rule, since we encounter wide differences in individual cases. Thus levulose— fruit sugar—is often well assimilated in the milder form of the disease, and this permits the inclusion of certain fruits in the supplementary list.


Cabbage, celery, radishes, cauliflower, green string beans, coldslaw, kraut, young onions, tomatoes, cranberries, apples if not sweet, milk in moderate quantities, and bran bread or gluten bread well toasted.

The discovery of saccharin has furnished us an admirable substitute for sugar, since this agent possesses a sweetening power nearly 300 times greater than that of sugar, and a flavor quite as agreeable and pleasant. The tablet form in which saccharin is now put up is very convenient for sweetening coffee, tea, and other beverages. Constant use of saccharin in practice for over a year has convinced me that it is entirely harmless in these cases.

The method of dieting diabetic patients is of scarcely less importance than the quality of the diet itself. In order to more accurately determine the effects of diet upon the disease, no so-called specific medicines should be administered until the sugar excretion is reduced as far as is possible by diet alone. Step by step the more objectionable foods should be cut off until sugar ceases to appear in the urine, or until we reach almost —indeed in some cases an absolute—animal diet. Of course, where patients have been enjoying all the luxuries of a diet range comprising our modern resources of food-supply and culinary arts, an abrupt change to a strict diabetic diet would carry with it more or less danger, and therefore such course is never advisable. The first step should consist in the exclusion of potatoes, sugar, and farinaceous foods, except leaving the patient the liberty of using a moderate amount of bread thinly cut and well toasted on both sides. With these restrictions the patient should continue without other changes for about two weeks. In the milder cases this “ first step ” in dieting will have caused a reduction of the sugar in the urine to relatively small proportions; indeed, in sotne cases it completely vanishes. If sugar still appears in the urine—especially if in considerable quantities— under the above restrictions, we may know that the disease is at least of moderately severe type, and we should proceed to the next step in the diet. This should consist in the exclusion of milk, and all vegetables save green ones. Greater care should be exercised in the use of bread; white bread should be forbidden, and some substitute employed that contains less starch. Gluten or bran bread may be tried, but always toasted, as this alters its contained starch, so that it is not so readily converted into sugar.

After two weeks’ adherence to the above restrictions, if sugar still appears in the urine beyond mere traces, we may be sure that we have to deal with the disease in its more severe type, and we must accordingly bring to bear against it all onr resources of diet in the most strict form. Everything containing starch or sugar that can be avoided, should be strictly forbidden. This last step should be entered upon rather more gradually than the others. Milk, if previously permitted, should now be replaced by pure cream. Cabbage, celery, radishes and string beans should be exchanged for spinach, lettuce, water-cresses, olives and cucumbers. Lastly, apples, tomatoes and all fruits should be avoided, and, with the exception of almond bread, some nuts and a few greens, the patient is reduced to an animal diet. Upon these restrictions, properly carried out, we shall find a large proportion of diabetic patients cease to excrete sugar with their urine, and with this result nearly all the symptoms of the disease will disappear.

In exceptional cases, even after a fair trial of the above restrictions sugar still appears in the urine, but it rarely exceeds i per cent. Under such circumstances the patient should be placed upon an absolutely animal diet, at least for a time. It will be found that a strictly animal diet will often remove these last traces of sugar from the urine, and after its continuance for a longer or shorter time, a reversion to some of the less objectionable articles of the vegetable order causes no reappearance of sugar in the urine.

January 2, 1892

Emmet Densmore

Obesity, Carnivore

How nature cures: comprising a new system of hygiene; also the natural food of man; a statement of the principal arguments against the use of bread, cereals, pulses, potatoes, and all other starch foods.


Dr Densmore promotes an "exclusive flesh diet" to cure obesity and comments how family doctors give poor advice.

"A fat person, at whatever period of life, has not a sound tissue in his body: not only is the entire muscular system degenerated with the fatty particles, but the vital organs--heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, liver, etc.,--are likewise mottled throughout, like rust spots in a steel watch spring, liable to fail at any moment. The gifted Gambetta, whom M. Rochefort styled the fatted satrap died--far under his prime--because of his depraved condition; a slight gunshot wound from which a clean man would have speedily recovered ended this obese diabetic's life. Events sufficiently convincing are constantly occuring on both sides of the Atlantic; every hour men are rolling into ditches of death because they do not learn how to live. These ditches have fictitious names--grief, fright, apoplexy, kidney troubles, heart disease, etc.,--but the true name is chronic self abuse."


Fortunately there is a considerably greater apprehension in the public mind now than a few years ago as to the evils of growing fat. The writings of Mr. Banting, an enthusiastic layman who was greatly helped by a reduction of obesity, and whose interest in his fellow men prompted him to make as widely known as possible some thirty years ago his method of cure, has done much to dispel dense ignorance concerning this topic; and in more recent years the illness of Bismarck, and his restoration through the reduction of his obesity, was also a great help to spread knowledge on this most important subject. 

The exciting cause of obesity is the ingestion of more food that the system requires, together with the weakening of the excretory organs, which results in the failure of the system to adequately throw off its waste matter. But the profound and primal cause of obesity will one day be recognized to be the use of cereal and starch foods. An obese person weighing two, four or six stone, twenty-five, fifty, or eighty pounds, or even a still larger amount, more than is natural, may be given a diet of flesh with water with or without the addition of starchless vegetables, as lettuce, watercress, tomatoes, spinach, and the like, excluding bread, pulses and potatoes, and the patient will be gradually but surely reduced to his normal weight. As soon, however, as the patient returns to his usual diet of bread and potatoes he straightway begins to increase in weight; and while an obese patient can easily be reduced eight pounds per month when placed upon a flesh diet, he will gain fully this much or more upon returning to a free use of bread and starch vegetables. If this patient who has been reduced, and who has again developed obesity, is persuaded to again adopt the exclusive flesh diet, again the reduction is sure to take place; and in the course of our practice this process has been repeated among many patients, and in a few a reduction and return to flesh has been repeated three times. It is plain from such demonstrations that without starch foods corpulency would not exist. Chemically starch foods are chiefly carbon; adipose tissue is also carbon, and it would naturally be expected that a diet of oil and the fat of animal flesh would contribute quite as much to obesity as bread and starch foods. But experience proves that such is not the case. The reason for this is not, in the present state of science, understood; it will likely be found in the fact that starch foods undergo a complicated process of digestion, whereas oils require only emulsion to render them assimilable by the system. 

The courage and strength of conviction possessed by the average family doctor is curious to behold. It will be found to be inversely to the ratio of his knowledge. The less conversant he is with this malady the greater confidence he seems to have in his opinions. During the years that we were in practice some hundreds of patients came to us for assistance in this trouble, a large number of whom were under the control of their family physician. Many of these patients came in defiance of the express orders of their physicians; and while they had assumed courage enough to disobey their orders and come to us, they needed much encouragement to enable them to proceed with any confidence. They were usually told by their medical advisers that in them it was natural to be stout, that they had "better leave well enough alone," and the direst results were prophesied in the event that they had the temerity to proceed. In point of fact these patients quite invariably experienced nothing but the happiest results. many of them came out of an interest in their personal appearance; finding their figures destroyed and their beauty going, they desired restoration to their youthful form and feature. Others, again, were annoyed at clumsiness in getting about, shortness of breath in climbing stairs, and the general awkwardness and inconvenience that result from this "too, too solid flesh." Only a small proportion of these patients came from a knowledge that obesity is a disease, that it encourages other states of inflammation and other diseases, and that its reduction is a great aid in the return of health. But while thees patients as a rule did not come to us with this expectation, it was common for them to testify to geat benefits that had resulted from their treatment. These benefits were quite frequently greater than the patient would readily admit or remember. It was our custom, with all patients beginning treatment, to take the name, age, height, weight, and a list of the infirmities, if any, from which they were suffering. These details were elicited by a series of questions, and the answers duly recorded. Out of sight out of mind is the old adage; and human beings are fortunately so conditioned that when their aches and pains have taken flight they forget not infrequently that they were ever present. many of these patients would have stoutly denied the benefit rendered but for the diagnosis taken at the beginning of treatment, and a reference to wich only would convince them of the coniditon they had been in. 

January 1, 1899

Elliott P. Joslin

A Centennial Portrait


Dr Joslin describes how his mother's Type 2 Diabetes could be put into remission if she followed his low carb diet. She was able to live for 13 more years.


- Case #8: 

Dr. Joslin's Mother 

The first was 73 years old and was Dr. Joslin's mother. The second was 16 years old and the youngest daughter of Dr. James Jackson Putnam, who had been Dr. Joslin's principal mentor in the first year of his practice and his teacher in the medical school. Dr. Putnam was the austere, brilliant and path-finding neurologist whose name is now inscribed on the chair in Neurology at the Harvard Medical School. 

It is said that Dr. Joslin specialized in diabetes to help his mother with her disease. While this is not correct, he certainly remained highly interested in her progress as well as in her type of diabetes, hee proudly noted in his later writing that a remission or two occurred in her diabetes when she carefully followed the restraints of a good meal plan. In the first edition of his textbook on diabetes, published in 1916, EPJ described his mother's case, thinly disguised under the topic "Is the tendency of the diabetic glycosuria to increase?" 

A woman showed the first symptoms of diabetes in the spring of 1899 at 60 years of age and 5% of sugar was found in June. She had gradually lost during the preceding fifteen years, twenty pounds and weighed 165 pounds when the diagnosis was made. Under rigid diet, the urine promptly became sugar-free, the tolerance rose to 130 grams and safe for very brief intervals and remained so for nine years until 1908. In 1909, a carbuncle appeared. With prompt surgical care, vaccines, the restriction of carbohydrates and the temporary utilization of an oatmeal diet, the sugar disappeared and the carbuncle healed promptly, but the urine did not remain permanently sugar-free, although only about 30 grams of sugar was excreted. Residence in the hospital for a few days in September of 1912, in order to have a few teeth removed, lowered the sugar to 0.8%. 

Except for brief periods of illness due to the carbuncle and pneumonia, the patient remained well during all these years and was unusually strong and vigorous for a woman of 73 until she finally succumbed to a lingering illness subsequent to a hemiplegia and death finally occurred due to a terminal pneumonia in 1913. 

With his mother's case. Dr. Joslin described the most common presentation of diabetes. When she was diagnosed with diabetes, she was overweight and probably inactive. Had she been born a decade later, Mrs. Joslin might have enjoyed a life lengthened by the use of insulin in the 1920s and antibiotics in the 1930s. 

As an aside: Dr. Joslin's inheritance from his mother, Sara Proctor Joslin, left Dr. Joslin a millionaire several times over by today's standards. Sara Proctor, her sisters and one brother were the heirs to a very large fortune derived from their father Abel's leather tanning trade. Sara Proctor became the second wife of Dr. Joslin's father Allen, who was a shoe manufacturer in the town of Oxford. This connection with the Proctor leather tanning business guaranteed the success of the Joslin shoe factory. EPJ was fond of noting that he was a direct descendant of John Proctor of Salem, who had been hanged for defending his principles in the witch trials of 1692.

EPJ's lifestyle, in line with his upbringing and religion, always understated his affluence. However, it afforded him the means to aid family and associates with education and travel, as well as the ability to acquire the property needed to gradually expand his clinic. He underwrote Priscilla White's training in 1928 at the leading pediatric center in Vienna, a typical act of generosity to his co-workers.

December 1, 1927

Dietary Factors that Influence the Dextrose Tolerance test - A preliminary study - by J. Shirley Sweeney, M.D.


Sweeney studies healthy young people to see how feeding them a certain macronutrient influences the results of a glucose tolerance test, and proves that carbohydrates sensitize the body to future carbohydrates, while fat and starving create an insulin resistance effect where blood sugar stays high after a sudden assault of glucose.

The current explanation of this phenomenon (Macleod) is that the first dose of glucose sensitizes the insulin-secreting mechanism, so that in response to the second dose the islet cells secrete insulin more readily and more abundantly at a lower level of hyperglycaemia. On the basis of this explanation Sweeney, in 1927, attempted to explain the variations in sugar tolerance found in normal subjects on different diets. Using the ordinary glucose tolerance test as a guide, he investigated the sugar tolerance of healthy individuals during starvation, on a fat diet, on a protein diet, and on a carbohydrate diet. He found that protein had little effect; that fat diets and starvation diminished sugar tolerance; and that carbohydrate diets improved sugar tolerance. Sweeney considered that the diminished sugar tolerance was due to the impaired sensitivity of the insulin-secreting apparatus, consequent upon the absence of the stimulus of carbohydrate ingestion, and that the improved tolerance was the result of the increased sensitivity of this mechanism, owing to greater stimulation.

December 1927




The dextrose tolerance test is now being extensively employed as a diagnostic procedure. It is most beneficially used in the differentiation of mild diabetes mellitus and renal diabetes. It is also being used, and is believed to be of diagnostic value, in many pathologic conditions, such as encephalitis, malignant tumor, pituitary and thyroid dysfunctions and nephritis.

 Although it is definitely established as a diagnostic procedure, there is some diversity of opinion concerning what constitutes a normal response to the oral administration of dextrose. Some writers state that in a healthy person there may be a postprandial rise in blood sugar of from 14 to 16 per cent and a return to the normal within two hours. There are other writers who consider a postprandial hyperglycemia of 20 per cent within normal limits. It is generally believed that the persistence of the postprandial hyperglycemia is of more diagnostic significance than the degree of hyperglycemia. In early cases of diabetes the blood sugar curve rises higher, stays up for a longer time and does not return to normal for several hours. Macleod says that "slight deviations from the normal must not be given too much weight in diagnosis, since they may occur in other diseases or even in perfectly normal persons." All who have studied dextrose tolerance curves have noted the variability exhibited by normal persons, to say nothing of those who are diseased. These variations have been discussed and explained in different ways. 

It occurred to me that perhaps the character of the food and the amount of water that a person had been consuming for a few days prior to the time the tolerance test was made might be factors that would influence the dextrose tolerance curve. If these factors should prove to be capable of altering a tolerance curve, they could be controlled. This would eliminate some of the confusing variability that is so frequently observed. It was these thoughts that lead to the following experiments. 

Young, healthy, male medical students were used to study the effect of different preceding diets. Four groups were formed. The subjects in one group were given a protein diet, those in another a fat diet, those in a third a rich carbohydrate diet, and those in the fourth group were not given any food—the starvation group. Those on the protein diet received only lean meat and the whites of eggs. The students on the fat diet received only olive oil, butter, mayonnaise made with egg yolk, and 20 per cent cream. Those in the group fed on carbohydrates were allowed sugar, candy, pastry, white bread, baked potatoes, syrup, bananas, rice and oatmeal. These diets were followed for two days. Meals were taken at the usual hours, and eating between meals was allowed, provided the diets were followed. Those in the starvation group did without food for two days. 

On the morning of the third day, each student was given by mouth 1.75 Gm. of dextrose per kilogram of body weight, on an empty stomach. Determinations of blood sugar were made from samples of venous blood removed immediately before the dextrose was given, and at 30, 60 and 120 minute intervals following its administration. I made all determinations of blood sugar by the Folin-Wu method.

A better comparison of these groups is obtained by examining table 5 and chart 5 in which are contained the average or type curves of each group. It will be noted that those students who were on the carbohydrate diet exhibited a marked increase in sugar tolerance and those on a protein diet a slight decrease in tolerance, while those who were placed on the fat diet and those who were starved manifested a definite decrease in sugar tolerance. The differences in the average fasting blood sugars are noteworthy. The blood sugar in those of the protein and starvation groups was distinctly lower than that of the members of the fat and carbohydrate groups. 

Because of the great difference in these groups, those students on the fat diet and those in the starvation group who showed the most extreme responses were placed on the carbohydrate diet. Similiarly, those in the carbohydrate group who showed an extreme response were placed on starvation restriction. This was obviously done to determine whether the curve of a person could be changed significantly by diet. The results are presented in table 6 and in charts 6 and 7. 

Comparison of the curves of these five students is striking. The curves of all who had been placed on carbohydrate diets manifested a definite increase in their sugar tolerance. When three of these (the three most extreme) were placed on starvation restrictions, the curves were notably abnormal ; there was a marked postprandial hyperglycemia. which persisted at the end of two hours ; in other words, what was an increased sugar tolerance following the carbohydrate diet became a definitely decreased tolerance following two days of starvation. The remaining two persons who were placed on the fat diet showed a similar decreased tolerance. It should be stated that an interval of at least one week was allowed between the tolerance tests performed on the same subject.

September 3, 1931

Sam Apple

Find Sugar is Fuel for Cancer - Develops Fastest Where Blood Has High Sugar Content - ADVISE DIET LOW IN CARBOHYDRATES


"The general conclusion is that cancer patients, particularly those with a high level of blood sugar, should be put on a low carbohydrate diet which should contain little or no sugar."

BUFFALO, Sept. 3 (P), Sugar is "fuel' for cancer, and its regulation in diet essential for cancer treatment, the American Chemical society was told yesterday. The report came from the cancer research department of the University of Pennsylvania, from work done by Gladys E. Woodward and Edith G. Fry, under direction of Dr. Ellice McDonald. 

"In cancer," said Dr. McDonald, in explaining the technical report, "the essential difference between tumor tissue and normal tissue is the ability of cancer to digest the animal sugar (or glycogen) in a different and more expeditious way than normal. "The greater the amount of sugar there is in the blood of cancer patients, the shorter is the expectation of their lives. There is a greater growth of the cancer when there is a large amount of sugar in the blood. The tumor grows faster, and there are a greater number of dividing cells. Cancer patients with a low blood sugar respond well to treatment and have a better chance of survival, with slow growth of the tumor.

"The amount of the sugar in the blood of cancer patients should be periodically measured, particularly before and after any treatment, for if the blood sugar increases after any treatment of the tumor, this should be corrected before any further treatment is instituted, and any new treatment should be based on the results of the tests. 

"The general conclusion is that cancer patients, particularly those with a high level of blood sugar, should be put on a low carbohydrate diet which should contain little or no sugar."

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