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Friend’s Advice Causes Patient Problems

Oct 15, 2019

The patient’s friend had told her that a high protein diet would cause kidney problems….

Last week I saw a patient who seemed to be losing control of her blood glucose levels. She had been doing well and her A1c had been around 6.0 – 6.3 for the past couple of years. She was doing this while only on metformin 1000 twice a day. She was referred to me by her physician because of high after-meal readings ranging up to 350 mg/dl. I went over her medical history and medications looking for a possible problem and found nothing.


I then turned to her diet, as she had been holding her weight well for the last couple of years. There did not seem to be a problem as she was only 4 lbs over her weight of last year. However, when questioning her about the specifics of her diet, I found the problem.

One of her friends with diabetes had developed some kidney problems which she (the patient’s friend) believed were due to high protein intake. Because of this belief, she had advised my patient to reduce her protein and meat consumption greatly. The patient’s friend had told her that a high protein diet would cause kidney problems and that eating meat was especially bad.

Based on this input, the patient had changed to a “vegetarian” diet which, in her mind, was pasta, bread, rice potatoes, lots of fruit, and no animal protein at all.

I explained that the high sugar intake in her new “diet” was causing the blood sugar fluctuations. The patient returned to her old eating habits and her glucose returned to normal.

Lesson Learned:

Patients often listen to their friends and co-workers, and make changes without consulting their medical professionals.

Jacob Hanson, PharmD


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