Diabetes Diet

Eating Your Heart Out?

The important new book, Eating Your Heart Out?, is indeed about eating and your heart. But it is much more.

I think that it started as an explanation of the BalancePoint protocol. But it is much more than that too.

The authors are Richard C. Williams, Ph.D., Binx Selby, and Binx’s wife, Linda Jade Fong. I have know all three of the authors for years and consider them my personal friends. Several years ago I participated in the BalancePoint program, and Dr. Williams is a member of the diabetes support group that I founded four years ago here in Boulder, Colorado.

That said, I am not beholden to them. I didn’t ask any of them for a copy of the book, and they didn’t offer to give me one. I bought a copy of the Kindle edition of Eating Your Heart Out? from Amazon.com for $8.99.

Nowadays, I prefer to read books on my Kindle or on my iPad with my Kindle app. Reading digital books is more comfortable and offers several other huge advantages. We can search Kindle books by word or phrase, we can tap a word to find its definition, bookmarking is automatic, and we can easily change the font size and brightness. Digital books are almost always also less expensive that printed copies.

Barnes & Noble also sells it as a Nook ebook. Their price is the same as Amazon.com, $8.99.

But if you are still addicted to print, you have that option too. The publisher is BookBrewer.com (not BookBrewery.com, which came up once for me when I tried to find it). They published it in 2011, and it just became available for $16.90 at “Eating Your Heart Out? — Paperback Edition.”

When you order it, be sure not to confuse it with at least three other books with the same or similar names. Unlike most products, nothing requires book names to be unique.

“Balance” is a key word to describe this book, and not just because of the BalancePoint program that Binx Selby and Linda Fong created. Just about everyone says to eat a “balanced diet.”

But, as Dr. Williams writes, no one was ever quite sure what “balanced” was supposed to mean. “Unfortunately, to most of us it meant, ‘Eat everything and every kind of food you can get your hands on.’”

We now have a much better idea of what “balanced” means. The BalancePoint Protocol began when Binx Selby got his annual physical several years ago. Binx is a well-known and successful inventor and entrepreneur here in Boulder where I live. But the calcium heart scan that he got during his physical showed that the blood vessels leading to his heart had a lot of calcification, meaning a great potential for heart disease. So his doctor wanted him to take one of the drugs commonly prescribed for high cholesterol levels, a statin.

“For the rest of my life?” he asked his doctor. She nodded yes.

Binx accepted the diagnosis, but not the treatment. “I had the intuitive sense that it had to be diet,” he writes in Chapter 10, where he explains the BalancePoint Diet.

His doctor gave him two weeks to work out the problem without drugs. The seven principles of the diet that Binx worked out and more than 300 people have successfully followed are these:

1. Keeping the body predominantly in fat metabolism (65 to 70 percent).

2. Providing enough but not too much protein (about 10 percent of calories).

3. Allowing a few carbs, but from only low-starch and low-sugar vegetables, plus a smaller amount of fruit, for a total of about 20 percent of calories from carbohydrates.

4. Eliminating inflammatory foods, like milk, legumes, grains.

5. Including unsweetened cocoa.

6. Limiting calories to the level needed for desired weight.

7. Supplementing this with a multi-vitamin and a gram or two of Omega 3 fish oil.

The result for Binx was immediate. Subsequently, he refined the program, including a phased introduction, which he explains in greater detail.

Dr. Williams also experienced positive results. He told me personally that the lipid levels he had that were a little out out of range before he began to follow the BalancePoint Protocol and are now normal. His HDL level, which everyone agrees needs to be above 40, went from 29 to 43. His LDL level went from 97 to 77 (lower is better). And his triglyceride level, where lower is also better, went from 117 to 75. Even his blood pressure improved from 130/80 to about 110/60.

Dr. Richard C. Williams

So the BalancePoint Protocol started as a cholesterol and heart protocol. It works for that. It also works for blood glucose management and weight loss, as I can personally attest.

I keep saying here that I follow a very low-carb diet. That is in fact what the BalancePoint Protocol is. But it is more than that too.

At the most recent meeting of our diabetes support group this past Saturday, Dr. Williams emphasized that the protocol and the successful management of diabetes has three legs. They are first nutrition, or you might say diet. The second leg is exercise. And the third leg is management of high stress levels to reduce those levels.

“But it’s four legs,” I interjected. “What about diabetes medication?”

That’s only an adjunct, when the three legs don’t work for someone, he replied. I have to agree.

And I can go on and on with this review, but it is already too long. Still, I need to let you know that Eating Your Heart Out? is a lot more than an apologia for the BalancePoint Protocol. Dr. Williams is a scientist who has studied just about all the literature that is out there.

One of the great strengths of this book is his reviews of just about all of the most popular diets. The only ones he missed that I could think of are those that appeared as the book was going to press, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek, which I reviewed here at “Low Carbohydrate Living,” and Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, which I reviewed here at “Lose Your Wheat Belly for Diabetes Health.”

Dr. Williams reviews 19 diets in Chapter 8 of the book. Only two of them, Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution and The Rosedale Diet, earned 10 stars on a scale of 1 to 10 from him. Those are excellent diets, and I have extolled the books by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein several times here.

But I have to differ with Dr. Williams on his lower evaluation of The Paleo Diet, 6 stars, and particularly his dismissal of The New Glucose Revolution, a diet based on the glycemic index, which Dr. Williams apparently doesn’t think is scientific.

In fact, the glycemic index is the only scientific measurement of how much different foods raise our blood glucose level. That it “produces some very strange results,” as he writes, is largely because sucrose (table sugar) is half fructose, and fructose has a low glycemic index, but is harmful for us because of the way we digest it through the liver — as I have written here several times, including “The Trouble with Fructose.”

The only other major reservation that I have to the recommendations of Eating Your Heart Out? is whether saturated fats are good or bad for us. While Dr. Williams accepts some saturated fats from plant products in “small to medium quantities,” he writes in the book and told our support group on Saturday, that “the jury is still out” on this issue. Lots of people besides Dr. Williams believe this, but I think that the masterpiece, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes can convince any impartial jury that saturated fat, even from animals, is good for us. As I wrote here long ago in “Addicted to Carbs,” this is the book that changed my life.

Dr. Williams is a big proponent of monounsaturated and omega 3 fats. The best sources of monounsaturated fat are avocados, olive oil, and tree nuts, except for cashews. The only good source of monounsaturated fats that I can think of that he leaves out are olives.

My other reservations to Eating Your Heart Out? are minor. The book could have used much better proofreading and copy editing. Dr. Bernstein does not advise all of us to “stick to a diet that contains no carbohydrates.” While stating in the book that Dr. Williams gave 10 stars to that no carbohydrates are essential for us to eat, Dr. Bernstein clearly writes, “do not increase your carbohydrates beyond 6 grams for breakfast, 12 grams for lunch, and 12 grams for super.”

Another minor editing flaw is stating that Loren Cordain is a “highly regarded physician and diet expert.” He is indeed highly regarded, but his title “doctor,” like Dr. Williams’s own, is from his Ph.D., according to Colorado State University, where he teaches.

One misstatement gave me a laugh. Dr. Williams writes about the USDA. But he identified it as the “U.S. Drug Administration,” rather than correctly as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Still considering the USDA’s continual pushing of grains, which we know are addicting, as I have written here at “Wheat and Other Grains Can Be Addicting to People with Diabetes,” the USDA probably deserves to be called a drug administration after all. Considering much of what the USDA has told us over the years, when we follow its recommendations we are indeed eating our hearts out.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Katie King March 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    What are you saying about the press on statins and the increase in diabetes risk? I stopped taking to see what happened and my BG went down about 10 pts at various times of day. What are you thoughts on the research?

    • David Mendosa March 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Dear Katie,

      For years I have said that statins are dangerous drugs. They have some terrible side effects.