I have never written a tribute to a medical practitioner before, but sometimes we need to make an exception. This is one of those times.
About 15 years ago, I had a chance to read a book that changed the way I look at treating diabetes. I was completely mesmerized by its philosophy, which was different than anything I had been taught or had read. Early on a Sunday morning, I phoned the doctor who wrote that book. o my surprise, he answered the phone and Dr. Bernstein and I had a long conversation about his philosophy.
But before we go any further, I need to share with you how it all got started. This is just the short version (you can learn more in the first chapter of his book Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution). As an engineer with type 1 diabetes, he had, 32 years earlier, invented blood sugar self-monitoring, basal/bolus insulin dosing, and a very low carbohydrate diet, in order to get himself off the blood sugar roller coaster.
After achieving normal blood sugars that he suspected would reverse most of the long-term complications of his disease, he prepared an article that detailed his technique for blood sugar normalization. It was ridiculed by major medical journals and by the president of the ADA who was his physician.
Seeing that it would be impossible for an engineer to publish in a medical journal, he enrolled in pre-med courses and entered medical school at the age of 45 so that he could publish his discovery. He graduated in 3 years and published his first book while still in medical school. He has since published many articles in peer-reviewed and in popular publications. But even now, the medical community is very slow to change.
Having learned his story, I wanted to develop a working relationship with this doctor. I asked if I could help get the word out about his philosophy, which includes tight control of blood sugars on a regular basis at 83mg/dL, and he agreed. So, I set up a website and helped to design other sites to reflect his philosophy. I even helped to write the chapter on drugs for his newest book as I am a pharmacist and was very familiar with the drugs that treat diabetes.
We started doing webcasts once a month, where people could ask questions about their diabetes. We started that webcast over 14 years ago and it’s still going strong; we’ve done over 150 webcasts to date and he has answered many thousands of questions for people all across the globe. We also put together an ebook of the questions and answers. I have to admit that I did these webcasts for selfish reasons, as I was also being educated.
So I ask myself, why doesn’t the medical community truly accept his philosophy that, “People with diabetes are entitled to the same blood sugars as those without diabetes”? When I ask medical professionals about his philosophy of keeping blood sugars at about 83 mg/dl 24 hours a day and A1c’s below 5%, the answer is always the same: “My patients will not do it!” Plus, they say it is too dangerous to try to get blood sugars in normal ranges as it would cause too much hypoglycemia.
But what I found is that patients who follow his philosophy of a low carb diet require much less insulin, and when taking small amounts of insulin you actually have less hypoglycemia. One of the questions that gets asked is, “Can I follow your philosophy for my child who has type 1 diabetes?” You can see the answer when viewing the children on the video tribute for Dr. Richard Bernstein on his 83rd birthday. The biggest proof is he has no complications and is one of the longest living type 1’s.
His book, Diabetes Solution, I have been told is the “bible” for diabetes. Back when I first read the book and got to know him, I decided that I would give his book to each patient that I met with, to provide them the education that would help to control their diabetes. It just made my job so much easier, as the patients were educated before I met with them.
I have found that when people read the 500+ pages, they lower their A1c’s by 1 point, just by reading the book; if they read it twice, they can lower their A1c’s even more.
I could go on and list all of the positive feedback, but just watch the tribute — and make sure you have some tissues with you.
THANK YOU DR. BERNSTEIN FOR WHAT YOU DO AND HAPPY 83RD BIRTHDAY! WE ARE PROUD TO HAVE YOU ON OUR ADVISORY BOARD.
To make it easy, we put much of Dr. Bernstein’s education information onto a website: www.diabetes-book.com. If you would like to participate and listen to his monthly webcasts go to www.askdrbernstein.com.
For 119 video lessons try Diabetes University: Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes University Playlist (www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs_TA02I6IvV6-1s2pL4BPhvMo0Ck_lcY)
– Steve Freed, R.Ph., Diabetes Educator, Publisher