Monday, April 4, 2016

Blood Glucose, Leaky Gut, and Potatoes Part 1

My Dad, John, "near 70," has had blood glucose control issues for a long time. He sees fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels of nearly 200 some days. I have been telling him to get on meds, but he takes after me...very stubborn. Dad has been potato hacking for a day or two, just to see what the fuss is about. This morning he wrote:

My sugar has been around a fasting number of 180/190 most mornings.  If I had eaten a lot of sweets, it would be around 210/230 tops.  Today, this morning, it was 156.  Just an hour ago, before the treadmill, it was 123.  I can see where this is going, hopefully!

This is after one day of an all-potato diet. Let's hope it continues to drop. But then what? I doubt dear ol' dad will want to eat potatoes the rest of his life. This got me to thinking...

Dad's had stomach problems his whole life. He describes bloating and "urgency." Could this be connected to his high blood sugar?

Conventional wisdom says that high blood sugar is caused by two things:

  • Lack of insulin production by the pancreas.
  • Insulin resistance caused from too much circulating glucose. 

In the latter case, the "too much glucose" is usually said to be from eating too many "carbs." Low carb diets can sometimes lower blood glucose. Low insulin production almost always requires the use of supplemental insulin injections.

Just the other day, a diabetic friend related that his doctor warned him that eating a potato was like "eating a cup of sugar" to a diabetic. Needless to say, he does not eat potatoes. But could potatoes be part of a cure?

Without going into the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus, I think that there is a major piece of the diabetes puzzle being overlooked by everyone. Leaky gut. The gut should block glucose once glycogen stores are full and there is nowhere for glucose to go. If the gut continues to release glucose inappropriately, it enters the bloodstream with nowhere to go and circulates until it is used through attrition. This excess blood glucose will show as high post prandial blood glucose and contribute to insulin resistance. Fix the leaky gut and we eliminate a huge source of glucose, allowing insulin to react normally and cells to become insulin sensitive, as we desire. 

No one is discussing this, but the science is there. Leaky gut leads to high postprandial blood sugar. What causes leaky gut? Lots of the crap we eat! Processed foods, white wheat flour, industrial seed oils, etc... Eating low carb masks the problem, eating whole foods prevents leakiness. This all falls into the same category of bad science that says "dietary cholesterol causes high cholesterol." Dietary glucose is not the cause of high blood glucose. Also implicated in leaky gut are gut bacteria, yeast, mineral deficiencies, i.e. magnesium, and alcohol consumption.

Leaky gut, insulin resistance, or lack of insulin are the causes of diabetes. The potato hack shows that one can eat nothing but glucose-rich food and have better blood sugar readings than a low carb diet. We'll explore this effect of leaky gut in part 2...



  1. Interesting. Out of interest what associated symptoms does your dad have (if he doesn't mind me asking?) - lack of energy? cloudy thinking?

    Hopefully he keeps it up (if for nothing else than his own benefit!), as will be interesting to see if any symptoms resolve

  2. "I doubt dear ol' dad will want to eat potatoes the rest of his life"... haha are you sure; I could, I'm loving the taters..especially those evil addictive purple flesh crack ones...I haven't turned purple yet but I do know someone who turned orange from overjuicing carrots. I can't imagine ever getting sick of taters. Anyway, interesting post, as I have wonky BS and also the IBS symptoms most of my life, although the sense of urgency became constipation after years of LC. Rose

  3. Makes sense to me. "All disease begins in the gut"...


  4. Good morning! I'm a bit rusty on physiology and continue to dust it off every week, but will you point me where you found the explanation for this below?

    "The gut should block glucose once glycogen stores are full and there is nowhere for glucose to go. If the gut continues to release glucose inappropriately, it enters the bloodstream with nowhere to go and circulates until it is used through attrition..."

    I quickly looked and brushed up on glucose/sodium transporters and portal/glucose/insulin effects on liver glucose metabolism, but I couldn't find explanations which discussed glycogen feeding back to block the absorption of glucose from the gut. Have a great week!---Terri

    1. Terri, as an aside, in the sleep study literature, the apneics end up with high blood glucose due to sympathetic nervous system stim. In these cases, endogenously produced glucose 'has nowhere to go' because the patient is lying in bed doing nothing more than fighting for breath. The skeletal muscles are doing nothing and the insulin production is not happening because it's not supposed to be.

      Granted, a lot of sleep apneics are overweight or worse, but not all.

      I think the situation in re: diet change has confounder issues if the person has serious untreated sleep apnea. Fasting blood glucose can be high because of the gluconeogenesis during sleep.

      Potato hackers report better sleep quality so we've got a reduction of oedema and other things going on. Dr. Voigt reported his wife's observation that he stopped snoring after starting his 60 day potato diet, albeit snoring and sleep apnea are not the same thing. One is a partial obstruction of airway, fair enough. But there are plenty enough people who both snore and have sleep apnea, alternating during sleep. However, even after he lost 21 pounds, immediately after stopping the potato diet, his wife reported that his snoring resumed. I tend to consider this as a potassium/sodium balance issue and not 'metabolic change' because you'd think if it were the latter, there would have been some residual effect.

      What do you think?

    2. Terri - I'm collecting references now and hope to show that this is the case as I have outlined here. I'm seeing a third arm of glucose dysfunction, and that is from the gut. I'll lay it all out in gritty detail as I get comfortable with the biology and sources I am looking at.

      Just from an observational point, it seems obvious that this is what's happening. The normal explanation is that eating too much glucose contributes to high blood glucose unless you are insulin sensitive and have plenty of insulin. But in the case of healthy, non-glucose impaired people, continuous eating of sugar does not lead to ever-increasing BG no matter how much is consumed in a day. A healthy person can eat 1000g of glucose and still maintain normal BG levels. But diabetic/pre-diabetic people will see levels of 300+ after just eating 50g of glucose.

      Let me work out the numbers a bit and I'll have a second post up later today with some references, then we can all try to absorb this a bit and see if its worthy of exploring.

    3. Ok. I'll read the next post(s). And I searched some more; I see articles now about where nutrients and bacteria in the gut affect the sodium/glucose transporter and other gut glucose regulatory pathways. I just hadn't read about that. Thanks.

      I know you don't need this, but it's an example for anyone who read my comment and who may wonder the same:


    4. Oh, yes, and Gabriella, I don't know! Wish I had time to read up and pursue it! Very interesting, eh!?

  5. 'Dad has been potato hacking for a day or two, just to see what the fuss is about.' LOL!

    See what it's like with parents? (I"m one too, so guilty as charged.) It's not enough to be writing a blog for a couple of years and have many, many people report success with the potato hack, parents need you to write the book before they think, 'oh, my kid, maybe he's really serious about this. Maybe he's even got it right.' HA HA!

    Good luck daddy Steele! Keep hacking!

    If we go back to take a look at the Orthodox Greek calendar or Roman Catholic calendar, fully half the days of the year were 'fasting' days. This meant no olive oil or any added fats. No meat, of course. No sugar/honey. The people being evaluated for why they live such long healthy lives have been eating like this.

  6. I don't know squat about leaky gut. Fortunately. Your theory is intriguing, but if this obvious and simple, why hasn't it been picked up on? You are a great researcher, and I noticed no citations here.

    I came back to the site to further report on some experiences having to do with potatoes and my pre-diabetes. In an earlier thread I reported that eating (I forget how many ounces) of potatoes put my blood sugar over 200 and it took I think, four hours to come down. Ouch. You agreed best I stay away (darn1) from the potatoes.

    Over the last few years I had gotten decent FBG results from potato starch. From 125-135 w/o to 90-110 with. But over time it seemed less effective.

    So on a recent trip to Mexico I bought some Metformin ER (Extended Release) OTC (As it, and so many drugs logically should be here.) I saw good results, informed my doc, and I got a prescription for 500mg X twice daily. I stopped the PS to have a clean reference point.

    Metformin, which has been around for almost 100 years, works. As does the much noted, common side effect, diarrhea. It's a juggling act with the Loperamide anti-diarrheal and the Metformin. Metformin mostly works by reducing the liver's production of glucose when it shouldn't be doing so. Leaky liver, as it were. It also is known to restore cellular insulin sensitivity.

    But I still got that high BS reading after being on Metformin for "awhile."

    I added PS back to my daily regimen last week and the results were almost instantaneous. More farting, natch. But my morning FBS is now running 81-83!

    So yesterday I ate 7 ounces of reds with skins on, malt vinegar, salt and pepper. In 30 minutes, my BS was at 196 and 45 minutes later, still 163. Oh, darn. BUT, an hour after that............90! So, in just over two hours after a bomb of glucose, I was back to non-diabetic normal. AND as I think about it, that over-200 reading I got a month ago was at 60 minutes, so it was probably even higher at 30! Potatoes really are the (sugar) bomb.

    It's possible that it took several months for the Metformin to be effective at the cellular level. What is N=1 obvious, Metformin and PS are the sugar anti-bomb. No one should be afraid of taking Metformin, other than the euphemistically labeled "gastric issues." I did a lot of research and it's almost a miracle drug; longer life spans, etc. I don't know the cost if one doesn't have a drug plan, but it should be inexpensive and subject to pricing differences. Shop around.

    The only bad news in all this is that I bought a house and moved to a community that has two Asian groceries but of the wrong kind. Indian foods, not Japanese/Thai/Chinese. So I guess I'll stock up on the PS when I go to Austin.

    I guess I should also mention that most days I am eating in a six to eight hour window. Daily IF. But I'm not religious about it. That is also supposed to help with blood sugar levels.

    1. Metformin has some gut microbe altering effects as well. As Art Ayers says, it's an antibiotic.

      Since you are close to Indian supermarkets, try Chana Dal. It's low glycemic, high fibre, and safe for diabetics.

      Lentils (whole) are also low glycemic. I'm not diabetic, but did some glucose testing before, after and later after consuming a large bowl of plain lentil stew. Blood sugar didn't move. At all. Stayed at 99. (5.5)

      If you marinate cooked potato or cooked beans with a bit of vinegar and a little bit of oil, you should also see reduced glycemic response. Or cook the potatoes Greek style with lemon juice etc. And don't make a meal of them.

      Indian foods per se are not 'bad', just that when people make meals of rice, roti, dal, and chase it with sugary junk (and if you look at the puffed up snack foods all over the place) it's no wonder the current eating habits make for immigrant communities to be 'ground zeroes' for type 2.

    2. We'll get into all this later...I just wanted to outline what I am looking at in Part 1. References, charts, etc. to follow!

    3. Looking forward to the references. If they are there, this could be a huge piece of the puzzle. And would support my theory that it's the mutli-generational increased use of antibiotics and increased C-sections at the root...or one leg...of the obesity epidemic.

    4. Charles, what does having a C-section have to do with obesity? Just curious, as thankfully, all my 5 sons were born without drugs, vaginally.

    5. Gabriella, can you point me in the direction to learn more about Metformin's gut altering effects? I have been taking it for a couple years and although my HbA1c is still in the optimal range, it has been creeping up since starting the drug. In addition, my FBG and insulin numbers have risen instead of getting better. I don't know if it's just a coincidence, a continued progression of the insulin resistance, OR if it could be due to the effect of low carb eating and/or Metformin on my gut microbiome.

    6. Hello, Gabriella from FTA! I always appreciated your knowledgeable input there.

      I don't worry about glycemic responses anymore. It looks like the occasional potato or grits indulgence is just fine, although definitely not daily consumption.

      I've not read that Metformin alters the gut bioeme. Not saying it doesn't, just haven't found that in the literature to date. I also take Doxycycline or Minocycline every other day to (successfully) combat my rosacea. At that dosage they are anti-inflammatories, not full out antibiotics. So I also take a prebiotic every couple of days when I remember to.

      Yes, lentils are amazing, aren't they? I was amazed some time ago to see that my BS didn't go up but the tiniest bit after eating a cup of them. I presume that the carbs are almost all of the resistant starch variety.

    7. hi Paul. Art Ayers, on his blog, Cooling Inflammation explains how there are medications which alter the gut microbiome. Metformin is one of them. This may also be one of the ways in which it helps people lose weight.

      Why don't you use Metrocream for the rosacea? It's topical. Works fine. Problem being since you are a guy, you'd need to be discrete but mineral based foundation also will help (on top of the Metrocream) This is a metronidazole based cream. Mineral based foundations contain titanium dioxide which helps (and I don't mean just from an aesthetic perspective) but also protects the skin from the elements. These oxides also have antibacterial effects.

    8. Metrogel doesn't work at all. I was prescribed it twice over a period of years, didn't work either time. A couple of years ago I asked my general doc if he would prescribe, after I do my research, a topical cream. He said yes, I did a lot of researcch, and came up with Clindomycin + Benzoil Peroxide. I worked for a long time, even if a pain in the butt to remember to apply several times a day. But the rosacea was slowly regaining territory.

      So, back to the anti-biotics/anti-inflammatories. They work, the dosages are sub-gut wrecking. Whatever alleged or feared damage they do is far more acceptable to me than ugly, painful pustules.

    9. I had a similar condition that was very painful. It might have been rosacea but I don't know. It went away when I changed two things. Most important, I stopped hot showers. I take a lukewarm shower that has a slight chill, I'm guessing 85 degrees F. Second, I quit using soap. My showers are simply to rinse off.

      My skin overall has never been better. Even my wife (who thinks I'm weird) is amazed at the difference. I think a lot of skin issues are the stripping away of natural oils and bacteria with hot water and soap.

  7. Sally. Children born via c section miss out on a whole load of good microbes from their mothers. This could impact their microbiome and the microbiome is thought to play an important part in good health, including staying lean.

    1. There's work being done on wiping down the baby with a 4 by 4 gauze that had been inserted in the mother's vagina prior to the C section procedure thereby attempting to seed the mother's vaginal flora on the baby's skin.

  8. Following all of this with great interest! I am just starting my own experiments with adding potatoes back into my diet (although I have been using potato starch for about 7 weeks).

    I have been eating LCHF to "treat" insulin resistance for almost a year, so a plain potato eaten by itself is like a sugar bomb to me! But if I eat one as part of a meal including meat, veggies and healthy fats, I experience very little jump in my BG levels. I've also noticed that including potatoes with my evening meal has resulted in a good 10 point drop in FBG (from 98 on average to 88).

    I go in next week for my semi-annual blood work and I am interested to see how the levels compare with 6 months ago (at that time my HbA1c was good but my postprandial glucose index and insulin were high despite faithfully eating low carb). After that appointment, I am seriously considering a full out potato hack just to see if it gives me a bit of a reset. Meanwhile, I love reading the blog posts and comments!

    1. Please do a potato hack and report back. At least two days, checking BG along the way. I think you will be surprised.

      But glucose dysregulation undoubtedly has many faces. My focus in this blog slam is on a leaky gut pathway to insulin resistance.

    2. I reread my post and realized my train of thought got seriously derailed! What I wanted to add is that before I was diagnosed with insulin resistance, I had issues with IBS. I was tested for Crohn's and celiac disease but nothing was diagnosed. I can't say whether I was suffering from "leaky gut" but I do know that my digestive issues have improved since cutting out gluten, sugar and processed foods and that the lingering chronic (10+ years) constipation has finally disappeared with the addition of PS. The connection between insulin resistance and digestive issues definitely makes sense to me.

    3. Valorie, could your lowered FBG come from adding in PS?

    4. Valorie, for that information you'll need to check out Art Ayer's blog: Cooling Inflammation. Do a search for metformin.

    5. Sally, just the PS alone does not seem to be lowering my FBG, at least not significantly yet. I have been supplementing daily with 4-5 TBS of a mix of potato starch and plantain flour for about 7 weeks but my FBG has still been around 98. However, a potato with my evening meal will result in FBG levels around 85-88 each and every time.

    6. Valorie, it's great to get your FBG down, by whatever means. And, doing it by eating a potato beats having to take a shot of insulin at night like one of my girlfriends!

    7. Valorie, now that you've got a good dose of RS going and, I assume, are comfortable with it, you might try others types of fibers shown to help with glucose control. You can do a search on PUBMED. Ones that I remember from my earlier searches are fibers like partially hydrogenated guar gum and glucomannan. I think it would be interesting to take the latter about 1/2 hour before a meal. Make to follow directions on water intake. Inulin is also a good fiber, but I don't remember if it helps glucose control.

    8. Valorie: There's something wrong with a FBG of 98? I ask that rhetorical question because I know the answer: It's not at all. It's just at the high end of normal and healthy. Maybe the PS isn't going to reduce it much because it's already good.

      As I noted in my post, PS is reducing my FBG by another ten points after Metformin. Nothing but goodness and a lower A1c can come of it.

      But if it's not working for you, be happy with 98. I was for decades.

  9. Tim,
    I just watched Ground Zero over at will add to your info on the gut biomedical. Dr. Kiran is working on the biomedical with the NIH.

    1. Interesting podcast thanks for mentioning it.
      You may be not be aware of the role of CHOLECALCIFEROL in maintaining the stability of the endothelium.
      Dietary Vitamin D and Its Metabolites Non-Genomically Stabilize the Endothelium PMC4607301
      Cholecalciferol, half life 19-25hrs, has to be created/supplemented daily to attain/maintain 25(OH)D between 40-60ng/ml to ensure significant amounts of free cholecacliferol (in that form unbound and unhydroxylated) are measurable in tissue/breast milk.