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With a heavy heart, we share the news of Dr. John McDougall’s passing. A visionary physician and author, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, mentor and friend, Dr. McDougall died peacefully at his home on Saturday, June 22nd, at the age of 77.


The fundamentals of the McDougall Program are simple yet often difficult to implement. Learn about the 12-Day McDougall Program - a life-saving medical program that empowers participants with the knowledge and practical steps needed to live a vibrant, long life. For questions on whether a change in diet can help your ailment, learn more about our consultations.
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Two basic physiologic changes are now recognized as involved in lowering the blood sugar to symptom-producing levels.

The disruption and removal of fibers from plant foods, through the processes of refining, causes the blood sugars to drop low enough to cause symptoms. For a simple example, if a whole apple is ground into apple sauce, your pancreas will produce more insulin in response to your eating the apple sauce than it would if you ate the whole apple. This greater quantity of insulin can lower your blood sugar down to the levels of hypoglycemia within a couple of hours. This response is further exaggerated if the disrupted fibers have been removed to make apple juice. Grinding of whole grains, such as brown rice, into rice flour will cause a similar increase in insulin response with exaggerated falls in blood sugar levels. Thus, it is important not only to eat vegetable foods, but, for a few very sensitive individuals, to eat those foods only as nature provided them–unprocessed, complete with all their fibers.

The second mechanism involves the many kinds of fats that are introduced so generously into the American diet. These fats inhibit insulin function, causing “insulin resistance.” With poorly functioning insulin, the blood sugar levels rise too high. As a consequence of the high sugar more insulin is produced, finally catching up and surpassing the body’s needs. This excess insulin soon drives the sugar to hypoglycemic levels. This paralysis of insulin function is seen with adult-onset diabetes and hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia has been blamed for a multitude of complaints, ranging from frequent headaches to chronic fatigue. Actually, most of the people I have seen who complain of hypoglycemia simply had no better way to explain to me that they feel so miserable all the time. Rarely have they had a glucose tolerance test that might confirm or rule out hypoglycemia. For the most part, the complaints of these people are vague expressions of continuous ill health. They don’t know this, but their troubles come from eating the wrong foods. Hypoglycemia or no hypoglycemia.

Recommendations, even from apparently well qualified dietary and medical professionals, to eat a high protein diet are outdated and should be disregarded, not only because they have very little chance of relieving symptoms, but because of the dangerous amounts of the damaging components in the recommended foods–cholesterol, fats, and excess proteins.

A starch-based diet will quickly relieve the disorder and its symptoms. In fact, this disease is so closely tied to the wrong diet (excessive fats, fiber deficiency, the presence of excess simple sugar, refined foods), that if the change to the proper foods does not result in quick relief, the diagnosis of hypoglycemia should be questioned.

People with hypoglycemia have often suffered for years, and as a result sometimes become injured emotionally, having an overpowering preoccupation with their feelings and well-being. Even after the hypoglycemia is relieved, such a person may not immediately regain confidence in her health, or accept the fact that she is well again, feeling well again, every day, all day.

If a “magic pill” came on the market today that offered a cure for adult-type diabetics, and improved the health of all diabetics by reducing the risk of life threatening complications; and if this same pill also cured almost every case of hypoglycemia, a medical miracle would be proclaimed, equal in value to penicillin. For those people who are willing to put in the necessary effort this “magic pill” is available today – in the starch-based diet. Unfortunately, this pill takes some effort to swallow. For me, the earnest hope is that someday soon every person with a blood sugar disorder will at least be informed of the healing potential that is offered by the starch-based diet.

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  • Recommendations

    Change to a starch-based diet, with no refined foods. Limit fruits initially, because of their high content of simple sugars. Eat frequently, maybe six or more times a day when beginning. Eat plenty of food at each meal, and don’t be concerned about gaining weight (because starches make you thin). Keep in mind also that your symptoms may be due to a problem other than low blood sugar levels, such as a food allergy (See section on Allergic Reactions to Food).

  • References

    Saunders, L. Refined carbohydrate as a contributing factor in reactive hypoglycemia. South Med J 75:1072, 1982

    Haber, G. Depletion and disruption of dietary fibre, effects on satiety, plasma-glucose, and serum-insulin. Lancet 2:679, 1977

    Monnier, L. Restored synergistic entero-hormonal response after addition of dietary fiber to patients with impaired glucose tolerance and reactive hypoglycemia. Diabet Metab 8:217, 1982

    Olefsky, J. Reappraisal of the role of insulin in hypertriglyceridemia. Am J Med 57:551, 1974