April 1, 2016

Food for Thought Friday: Modern Medicine Rant (Part 2!)

“I know many physicians who enthusiastically endorse a low carbohydrate diet for many medical conditions. The great majority of them have experienced personal health benefits from actually adopting the diet for themselves and that includes me. Although physicians are taught to ignore anecdotal evidence, it is difficult to do when it applies to oneself.”
                          -Keith Runyan, MD, Why Your Doctor May Question a Low Carb Diet

I have the utmost respect for doctors. Not all of them, but most. Getting through medical school, an internship, a residency, and more, is certainly no joke. Heck, just preparing for the MCAT is a challenge. Medical education and subsequent professional life is not for the lazy. There’s a reason I’m a CNS and not an MD. (Yes, I recently earned the CNS designation. Woohoo! I am now among the ranks of such greats as Jeffrey Bland, PhD, the founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine.)

And while I envy the paycheck and the cachet that come along with being an MD (much more impressive at a dinner party than being some lowlife nutritionist), I don’t envy the actual tasks that come along with being a doctor. This is particularly true for those who work in emergency rooms or emergency situations, so I’m not talking just doctors, but nurses, orderlies, paramedics, EMTs, cops, firemen…the whole crew. At my old office job, if I made a mistake, maybe the printer got jammed, or I spilled coffee on my keyboard. (Or accidentally hit “reply all” when sending a particularly scathing email about the boss, hehheh.) In an ER, if someone makes a mistake, someone dies. Someone’s kid bleeds to death. I can’t imagine being halfway through my lunch when someone gets rushed through the doors with a limb three-quarters of the way severed off, or with some kind of freaky implement impaled somewhere you really don’t want anything—freaky or not—to be impaled. I would not want to be tasked with walking out of an operating room to tell a family that their child “didn’t make it.”  

Bottom line: modern allopathic medical professionals see and do things on a daily basis that I cannot imagine in my scariest, don’t-want-to-take-responsibility-for-this nightmares. While I wish I were cool under pressure, and I have lots of daydreams in which I am a totally confident, take-charge-and-save-the-day kind of person, the truth is, I do not want to be the person responsible for knowing exactly what to do in a matter of seconds when someone is literally going to die unless I remember the correct procedure. 

I love medical doctors. Love em!

In the right context, that is. When it comes to trauma, please, for the love of all that’s holy, get me to the nearest modern, big-city, suped-up technology hospital you can. Do not—repeat, do not—call a naturopath, or a chiropractor, or an osteopath, or a nutritionist. I want someone to stop the bleeding, stop the pain, and stop them now.

Really, MDs are pretty awesome. (Especially ones like this, who get it.)

So why do I rail against them so much?  

Well, I don’t hate all doctors. Only the ignorant ones. Only the myopic ones. Only the closed-minded ones. Only the ones I wrote about in the modern medicine rant from a couple weeks ago. Doctors know a helluva lot of stuff I don’t, and I respect their knowledge and experience. The doctors I do not have respect for are the ones I talked about in the first part of this rant, as well as in the post I wrote about the total and complete morons and idiots who claimed to be doctors, but who, in fact, had no f*cking clue what they were doing, and contributed significantly to my mother’s deteriorating health over a number of years. My distrust and disgust with these folks comes from personal experience. (Well, let’s call it secondhand personal experience, because they were my mother’s doctors. Knowing what I know, I have gone out of my way to find doctors who actually get it, so thank goodness, for myself, I don’t have to put up with idiocy and incompetence.)
Similar extremely shoddy medical care has inspired others to write blog posts railing against medical professionals whose advice and/or actions proved less than helpful, and whose antics actually proved downright harmful damn near deadly.

So, despite my respect for some MDs, since I already wrote one rant about the ignorant and complacent ones, I figured why not write two? The degree of ignorance and complacency—plus the seeming determination some of these people have to keep their heads buried as far and firmly in the sand as possible, warrants a second go-round, methinks.

And I’m not alone.

Perhaps you are familiar with this mug:

Nice, huh?

I understand this. Really, I do. I’m sure MDs encounter patients who think they know it all, having watched House, ER, or Scrubs, or, yes, having consulted with “Dr. Google.” It must be downright insulting to have your education, expertise, and authority questioned by someone who researched his/her condition for a whole two days and thinks he/she is now an expert. It must be especially difficult because maybe they’re getting their information from Dr. Oz, or from the 19-year-old kid working the supplement aisle at Whole Foods. But maybe they’re also reading studies on PubMed. Unfortunately, considering the total crap that passes for peer-reviewed research these days, those three sources really aren’t much different from each other.

My point: I get it. If I had devoted many years of my life—and many, many thousands of dollars—to medical education and training, you’re damn right I wouldn’t want some yokel coming into my office telling me how to do my job. But, as I explained last time, when these doctors do their jobs, patients tend to get worse, not better. How that doesn’t make them stop and question their methods, I have no idea. But I’m starting to get pissed off about it, and I’m not the only one. This kind of nonsense—the utter failure of modern medical approaches to actually heal anyone and help anyone get well—has got to stop. And until it does, it will continue to inspire people to write posts with excellent titles like Doctors Shove Your Google Mugs You Know Where.

Do read that post. It's short, and it's fantastic. (If you like my sarcasm & snark, you'll love this writer's.) But if you don’t want to read the whole thing, be sure to check out this image before you read the rest of today’s post. But in case you don’t want to do even that, I’ll share what the author wrote in response to the Google search mug:

“Please do not confuse your medical degree with the ability to think critically, understand science, solve complex problems, and treat people with dignity.”


Agree. So. Much.

It’s pretty great the way it is, but we could make a couple of good variations: 
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with infallibility.
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with being the most intelligent person who ever lived.
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with being well-versed in the most recent developments in treating, reversing, and preventing chronic illness.
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with being well-versed in the most recent developments in your specialty, let alone those in areas you haven’t done f*ck-all with since medical school fourteen years ago.
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with my nutrition degree.
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with knowing f*ck-all about how food affects physical and mental health.
  • Please do not confuse your medical degree with being the end-all be-all sole authority on anything and everything having to do with the care and feeding of the human body.

As an example of specialists not keeping up to date with developments in their own fields, let alone medicine as a whole, how about all the neurologists who have never heard Alzheimer’s disease called “diabetes of the brain,” and who think the saturated fat in coconut oil will straight up kill your grandmother in about four seconds, so you’d better not, under any circumstances, give her any, ever, even though another MD says you should give it liberally(By the way, in case you missed the announcement, my Alzheimer’s e-book is now available on Amazon for Kindle! Only $9.99! That, my friends, is a friggin’ steal! Print/hard copy version coming soon, too!) And we could point to about a zillion MDs and dietitians still insisting that type 2 diabetics should follow a low-fat diet with lots of whole grains, even though that has got to be some of the most awful, backward, terrible, scientifically inaccurate advice in the history of medicine.

But I digress.

Here’s another real-world example of someone who received shoddy medical/nutrition advice. This person was fortunate enough to have discovered the facts for herself, but as is the case for many thousands of people out there—most of us who have stumbled into low-carb, Paleo, ketogenic, or just “real food” diets—she improved her health not because of advice from her physician, but despite it.

I’m sharing the most pertinent parts here, but I recommend reading the original post. (It’s short.) Any emphasis is mine:

“Gina is 5’ 5" and weighed 136 kg (300 lb). She was eating a typical low-fat diet, full of whole grains. She said she always preferred whole wheat because of the colour and texture.

She had extremely high blood glucose levels, her blood pressure was ‘sky high,’ she had high triglycerides, low HDL, her resting heart rate was over 100, she had rare ocular migraines, which left her blind in one eye weekly. She was also extremely sore all over, so much so she could barely sleep. She was weak and very fatigued.

She says, ‘My doctor had no answers. She continued to tell me to eat low fat. I was basically eating NO FAT at that point, literally but my condition just got worse.’ In fact, after monitoring her blood sugars for a week, the very diet she was prescribed to eat was pushing her blood sugars dangerously high. For an entire week her sugars were measured at over 11 mmol/L (200 mg/dl).

She said she knew that it wasn't fat that was doing it, and she noticed when she had rice, her blood sugar skyrocketed, and that it wouldn't go up when she didn't have rice. She told the doctor, and the doctor simply said she was eating too much. She tried reducing the rice portion, but the blood sugar still reacted exactly the same way.

She said at this point, ‘I knew conventional medicine was refusing to help me.’”

She’s not the only one.

We're on our own with this, folks.

Tim Noakes, who is the leading force behind South Africa’s Banting revolution, confirms as much:

Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to amazon.com, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.


  1. I will always be grateful to the nurse practitioner who encouraged my father to try an autoimmune diet (very paleo) for his RA. He will be coming off his last medication soon. He was able to discontinue his medication for acid reflux within two weeks of starting. And I greatly admire my father for being willing to change his diet. Too many people I know just want a pill or an injection to cure what ails them. (Dad's va doctor dismissed the autoimmune diet idea, of course, even after he was able to stop using medication)

  2. The last time I went to my doctor (the one approved by my insurance) was June 2014. I'd been doing all the right things, making all the right choices but my fat loss results were pitiful. I was feeling decent, but not *good*. At that time, I was exercising (usually HIIT) 6 days a week. I had to talk myself into it, but I did it - every day. No endorphin rush for me, though, exercise only made me super sleepy.
    I told her I really felt like (as I still do!) *something* is off in my body, and if I could just get that thing (or thingS) in balance, I felt like my brain fog would disappear, I would *feel* better (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and my body would let go of the excess weight. I wanted her to run a slew of tests to determine where I was out of balance. (I should add here that the only reason I went to her, as I have been unsuccessful with MDs for non-emergencies in the past, was because she had a reputation for digging until she found the problem).
    She offered me a prescription for Cymbalta. I told her I was quite certain I was not depressed. I'd been depressed, and this was not it!! She said it would "help me make better choices". We'd just talked for 15 minutes and she had told me I was doing all the right things!! I told her I was making the right choices just fine (although it was admittedly difficult to continue, day after day, to eat right and work out when my results weren't anywhere near in line with my efforts).
    She told me she had another homeschool mom with lots of kids (I have 8, only 5 still at home though. and I do homeschool....) and she finally talked her into taking Cymbalta and all her troubles were over. (Let's not even get in to that one...)
    I repeated that I did not feel like I was depressed, and she said, "I agree, you aren't. But this will still help you. Try it for a month." I told her I would consider it, but I really didn't think my problem was not enough anti-depressants.
    She told me - and this is a word for word quote. I know my brain is fuzzy, but I was so shocked by it, it is seared into my memory - "Don't bother coming back to me until you are ready for me to talk you into taking Cymbalta."

    1. I'm a homeschool mama of 5, though mine are 6 months to 9 years. Getting my quiet time is vital to my mental balance.

  3. Jimmy Moore has a great podcast of a talk given by Dr. Ron Rosedale. He describes the "Spanish Paradox" (wryly pointing out that only medicine has "paradoxes"--other sciences realize a "paradox" means the theory is wrong and then they change the theory!) which is that Hispanic patients have high rates of obesity and diabetes, but tend to live, on average, 2 years longer than their Caucasian counterparts. He attributes this to the fact that a large segment of the Hispanic population in this country has either limited or no access to primary healthcare.

    BTW, I'm finally able to download the Kindle book and reading it now :o)

    1. Thanks for checking out the book! I'm told the pyramid shaped chart way at the back does not display well, but other than that, feedback has been positive so far. :)

  4. EGAD! for the momma!....great post, as you know I'm an MD. I do not take offense at the rant...I've been through a rough time myself as a patient 36 years ago. That was what drove me into medicine. I had to get the credentials so i could help people. Now, I speak locally on educating yourself on better nutrition with low carb diets. I myself eat ZC and I function much better that way. Not everyone can do that so I try to work with them. It's a painful process to get them out of conventional thinking. But, i can steer them your way for great information written at the public level. ;)

  5. Hi Amy, rant indeed, I think you are expressing a frustration common to a lot of people. Remember the medical system and drugs/pharma/food industries are doing very well out of this situation so its not a crisis as far as they are concerned, in fact the opposite.

    To get philosophical for a moment, have you read William Ophuls book "Immoderate Greatness", it's about the factors that drive civilization decline. He identifies the key drivers and we in the west are fulfilling his criteria to the letter, ie we are in rapid decline and the future doesn't look particularly good, at least from where I stand.

    To get back on track one of the features of decline is the polarization of the segments of society, particularly the abandonment by the elites of the basic social contracts that hold any society in place. This is evident in many areas, witness the absolutely obscene transfer of wealth that has and is taking place particularly between the lower classes and the top 1% or so over the last few decaeds. This process is accelerating, mostly through the rent seeking of the financial sector who are now in control. Part of this is a predatory attitude towards the rest of society and what is happening in the medical/diet arenas is a small part of the total. What the answer is I don't know but I think there is trouble ahead.

    Got your book, its good, ploughing (if that's the right word) through it.



    1. Yeah, quite the mess we've gotten ourselves into.
      Thanks for getting the book! Like I said to Jan above, there might be a problem seeing the pyramid shaped chart way at the back, but other than that, so far, so good.

  6. Bravissima, Amy! Great rant, full of excellent points!

  7. I'm really having trouble commenting, as Blogger doesn't want me to log in as my Wordpress ID, BadLymeAttitude, and is now making me rewrite my entire comment! Thank you so much for your endorsement and sharing. I really appreciate the traffic this is sending to my site. I rant every day about the abuse of, and disdain for, people with often "invisible" chronic illness. This issue goes far beyond the MDs who refuse to open their eyes. There needs to be a systemic shift in thinking from "every illness can be accounted for by the presence of antibodies" to "the spectrum of illness spans from sub-immune (lack of antibodies) to autoimmune (too many antibodies)." What my close activist colleagues and I are finding is that the "system" at the very top levels likely knows this, but won't admit it for two reasons. 1) The cost to treat millions who suffer with immune deficiency (Lyme, ME/CFS, GWI, fibromyalgia, post-sepsis syndrome) would be astronomical. 2) To reveal the mechanism of these immune deficiency diseases would betray the source of the autism pandemic. I get into the science in many of my other posts. Sometimes it all seems so futile...so support like yours really helps to restore my faith. Thank you. -Laura

    1. Thanks for not being mad at me, Laura! ;-) I should have asked permission first to quote you, but I figured as long as I gave credit where it's due and linked to your work, you probably wouldn't mind. Far too many people out there with difficult-to-treat conditions are dismissed as hypochondriacs, or are just told "it's all in your head." I don't have any experience at all (either personally or as a practitioner) with Lyme, but I was on the Lyme Ninja Radio podcast a couple months ago, talking about low-carb diets and Alzheimer's disease. (http://lymeninja.com/amy-berger/) So many people in the low-carb community are well familiar with the kinds of incompetent medical professionals you wrote about. So ignorant and uninformed, it's very scary.

      Your post was excellent!

  8. Really important article. when I read this article I am very impressed. Actually I know many physicians who enthusiastically endorse a low carbohydrate diet for many medical conditions. Thanks for sharing your book and I hope that your medical degree are really important for me.

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  10. Finding a program that works for you is just the starting part to change your habit for its the initial segment.

  11. I call it being under the spell of "title hypnosis". It's not about a fancy title, but about real life accomplishments.