Paula Deen: diabetes drug spokesperson

Paula Dean Diabetes
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The year before he died of lung cancer, actor Yul Brynner taped a commercial for the American Cancer Society. “Now that I’m gone,” he pleaded into the camera, “I tell you: Don’t smoke, whatever you do, just don’t smoke.” He didn’t want anyone else to end up like him.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen, known for using doughnuts to bun her bacon-and-egg burgers, could have used her diabetes diagnosis in the same way, in hopes that others wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Instead, she announced yesterday, she is partnering “with a reputable pharmaceutical company” as spokesperson for a $500-a-month diabetes drug (with side-effects that may include pancreatitis and thyroid cancer). Instead of withdrawing her endorsements for Smithfield ham and Philadelphia cream cheese, Paula Deen just added another to the list. It would be as if Yul Brynner’s last breaths were instead spent hawking chemo.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic amputations, and new cases of blindness. Currently it’s the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. The good news Paula could have given to the millions of diabetics and prediabetics is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, managed, treated, and even cured with a plant-based diet. A prospective study of nearly 20,000 vegetarians and vegans published recently found that even after controlling for obesity (and exercise, age, gender, education, income, television watching, sleep, alcohol use, and smoking), those that ate plant-based diets had just a fraction of the diabetes risk. See How to Prevent Diabetes, How to Treat Diabetes, and my other 20 videos on diabetes. Good books on the subject include Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes and Defeating Diabetes.

When the “The Galloping Gourmet” chef Graham Kerr’s wife and childhood sweetheart suffered a stroke, he changed his tune and became a champion for healthier cooking. It is too bad Paula Deen missed this opportunity to embrace healthier Southern traditions, like collard greens and black eyed peas, and instead just chose to add a pharmaceutical side-dish to her deep-fried butter balls.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: susie.c / Flickr

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  • greeneyedjacket

    this is really well-written. sums up my thoughts perfectly. such a shame.

    • hcdr

      It is a shame. Although tragic at the time, being diagnosed as type I diabetic (not quite the same) was the trigger for my ever-growing interest in nutrition – probably a blessing in disguise. It used to amuse me how people would avoid sugar, and then slather their lunch in ketchup :) “Why can’t I lose weight?” It didn’t take long for me to learn that, and Deen was diagnosed more than two years ago. Deen supposedly promotes ‘moderation’ but there is nothing really moderate about deep fried stuffing on a stick! Can’t help but see the money motive here.

  • Vegan Epicurean

    Dr. G.,

    I was furious when I heard she received the diagnosis 3 years ago and continued to push her unhealthy cooking. She missed a wonderful opportunity to show Americans what can be done with real dietary change. But no….she had to get an endorsement deal out of this. It is hard to imagine that she doesn’t realize that her cooking contributed to her problem. The entire situation is disgusting IMO.

    Alicia

  • kenario

    It never ceases to amaze me how hypocritical people can be when it comes to getting a payoff.

    What a wasted opportunity to reach people in a positive healthy way and show them that they can turn their health around.

    She could use a raw-food for 30 days dose herself.

    Oxygen-rich living whole plant-based foods cure.
    Didn’t she get the memo on that one?

  • Thea

    I have no respect for Paula Deen. It’s not just a missed opportunity. It is a complete lack of moral character. Thanks for writing this and giving like minded people a forum for voicing our frustration.

    I know several people where I work who have diabetes. One woman said she would rather be sick than change her diet. But at least my co-worker knows what the options are. Paula Deen, on the other hand, is pushing the myth of moderation. Paula is doing the opposite of educating people.

    I will send this blog post to anyone who is interested. Hopefully they will follow the links and read Dr. Barnard’s book.

  • Mike Quinoa

    Very topical blog. I shook my head when I read the newspaper article. What a lost opportunity. She could have embraced a plant-based diet and cured herself, thus shining the light for many similarly afflicted people.

  • Kondratowitch

    As usual Michael is right on top of things. But, never having seen her or read her books, I must admit I was astounded to read what some of her recipes are. Why wasn’t she just laughed off the stage?

    • bgcuster

      I can’t believe she has a recipe for a gooey butter cake. Watching her make that was just horrible. And her fried egg, bacon burger in a Krispy Kreme donut…really!!! What in the hell was she thinking? And she used 1 and 1/2 pounds of ground beef for 3 people. I use to think watching her was entertaining, now I just think it’s scary because some fans DON’T use better judgement. They don’t know what in moderation means!!

  • beachgirl78

    Paula Deen is exactly the kind of person Big Pharma loves; one who keeps the deadly cycle going. If I ever meet her in person, I’m going to tell her how much she digusts me- from her deep frying to immoral choices.

  • Isabele

    Agreed: A lost opportunity. What galls me the most is that Deen has no desire to change her lifestyle. She believes it’s as simple as taking a pill/injection. Wait until she loses a limb, her eyesight, her kidney function, or suffers another consequence of diabetes. Perhaps then she will be open to changing her lifestyle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1667461271 Marc Slavin

    Another side affect of the Paula Deen diet is stupidity! She must need the money very badly… poor thing.

  • DrDons

    It is a poor commentary on human nature and how “fixed” folks become in their beliefs of what is good for them. PCRM recently rated the 5 worse cookbooks and she again made the list along with authors Jamie Oliver, Guy Fieri, and the Neelys plus the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. It is interesting that these books cost much more than the plant based options. Just like a plant based diet generally costs less then the standard american diet. Cost… Dr. Greger mentions the cost of the drug which is only the tip of the iceberg of the total cost of diabetes. The total cost of diabetes to society is very high. I’m sure Paula Deene has health insurance although I’m sure she has enough money to pay out of pocket if she wants. In any event by “choosing” to continue eating in the same fashion that resulted in her disease she contributes to the total health care costs of the country. Health care costs are significant burdens for businesses(the recent Post Office difficulties stem in no small part from their having to fund the health care costs of their retired employees), communities and government not to mention individuals. By changing her diet to a low fat plant based diet she could help reduce her costs and avoid future suffering like blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputation to name a few… plus reduce the costs of health care in her community. Sad that she continues to contribute to the “Tragedy of our health care Commons” and that individuals support her by buying her books and watching her on TV. Keep tuned to NutritionFacts.org and spread the word to your friends, family and coworkers about the best nutrition as supported by current science.

  • bgcuster

    I was a big fan of Paula’s. I loved watching her show, watching her interviews and reading up on her. She is very entertaining and I love her southern drawl. I never cooked anything she made though I have watched her for about six years. I have lost all respect for what she has done, or should I say her lack of responsibility. We choose whether or not to follow her recipes, especially us adults. That is our choice, she didn’t twist our arms!! BUT she should have disclosed her findings when she found out, just as a warning to all her fans. I feel she let down a lot of people in hiding that fact. She made it obvious that not only does she gorge on fatty foods, she is greedy as well. She could still make a lot of money if she thought it through and would choose to eat healthier and teach that to others as well.

  • Lorne

    I’ll second the above comments, what a shame.
    In some related Diabetes/Animal fat news, I found an article recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found a significant association between higher animal fat and cholesterol intakes with increased Gestational diabetes risk
    the abstract, and full text of the study can be found at:
    http://www.ajcn.org/content/95/2/446

    needless to say, it is upsetting to say the least, to think about how many pregnant mothers who watch those kinds of cooking shows and end up preparing/eating what is shown.

  • foodlover

    Thanks a lot. I could have helped my mother if I have read this before when she diet of kidney failure due to diabetes. Guys this is very important. Prevention is better than cure.. Diabetes can be managed if detected early stages. You can check other health info here: http://eatrightamericacafe.com

  • http://www.baselinedietsolution.com ScottF

    I don’t deny that the nutritional choices Paula Deen has made contributed to her development of diabetes, nor do I agree with her hiding it and then endorsing a drug to “treat” it, when treatment can be found in the foods she could be making. However, I do see a bit of an issue with people being afraid of certain foods that she uses regularly in her recipes. It’s the breads, the cakes, the fudge, the sugar and carb loaded dishes that have created such a huge epidemic of diabetes, cholesterol and heart health issues in this country.

    Her use of butter has been scrutinized in a big way, which isn’t really the big issue. Butter, in NO WAY contributes to raising blood sugar levels as it contains no sugars or carbohydrates, but does contains heart healthy fats. Used correctly, butter adds flavor without being unhealthy.

    People are also upset about her use of mayo, as it is “loaded with fat”. I’ll say it again. Healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated) are GOOD FOR YOU! They help raise healthy HDL cholesterol which in turn helps to lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Not only that, FULL-FAT mayo contains an abundance of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which aid in reducing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, and also speed up metabolism. I’ll clarify that full fat foods are a healthier option than “low-fat” or “non-fat” because these “reduced fat” options replace healthy fats with sugars, carbs and sodium.

    Lastly, the subject of bacon. While bacon can be high in sodium, it is also full of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Most of its calories come from healthy fats and protein. When added as a topping to a nice veggie salad (non-starchy vegetables) with a mayo or oil based dressing, this adds up to a healthy meal which is IDEAL for diabetics, and those who are looking to treat things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or are trying to lose weight.

    So, in conclusion, while I may not agree with Paula Deen’s actions in their entirety, and a little moderation in portions wouldn’t hurt, it must be said that people are worried about the wrong foods for the wrong reasons. If you are going to scrutinize her, let’s talk about her famous breads, cakes and baked goods which are full of sugar and carbohydrates. THESE are the foods that led her to become a diabetic.

    If you want to learn more, visit http://www.baselinedietsolution.com

    • Matt

      I think the saturated fats, cholesterol, omega 6′s, sodium, nitrates, trans fats, preservatives among others and lack of antioxidants in the products you mention aren’t buffered by a little omega 3′s in the products you mention.

    • Toxins

      This 2 year study looked at coronary artery lesions of the heart after consuming different types of fat. Polyunsaturated fat, Monounsaturated fat, and Saturated fat. They looked at angiograms a year apart after intervening with increasing one type of fat in each group. All 3 fats were associated with a significant increase in new atherosclerosis lesions. Most importantly, the growth of these lesions did not stop when polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats were substituted for saturated fats. Only by decreasing all fat intake including the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats did the lesions stop growing.
      http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/263/12/1646.abstract?sid=47d1d016-3c15-43f4-a013-0d10144ef8e3

      • Thea

        Fascinating!!! This is another one of your posts that I will be saving in a special folder. Thanks!

        • Toxins

          Thanks Thea, this is a cutout from my previous olive oil post.

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  • http://www.baselinedietsolution.com ScottF

    While there are some of the things you mentioned above in these products, the benefits of the mono and polyunsaturated fats are so high, that they should not be feared or scrutinized the way they have been. I’m not saying you should eat an entire package of bacon in one sitting. But her use of mayonnaise, in my opinion, is probably the best product in her recipes. As I said before, M&P fats are healthy, and can help in the fight against heart disease, by reducing bad cholesterol and raising the good HDL. I’d also like to add that full fat butter, mayo and bacon contain no trans fats.

    • Thea

      ScottF: I do not think the science supports your belief about the benefits of fats. For just one example, take Dr. Bernard’s work on diabetes patients(especially relevant for this thread). Dr. Greger references Dr. Bernard’s book in his blog post above. Dr. Bernard posits that fats are responsible for causing type 2 diabetes in the first place. He put his theories to a clinical test and found that his diet is 3 times more effective than the ADA (American Diabetic Association?) diet. Dr. Bernard’s patients were able to reverse diabetes, many (most) even able to drop their medications – all by making a diet change to one that does not include the fatty foods you are promoting.

      Even if you were right that deliberately eating certain fats can have benefits, I am not aware of any science that actually weighs the full cost and benefits of say bacon or butter or mayo. So the statement, “…the benefits of the mono and polyunsaturated fats are so high, that they should not be feared or scrutinized the way they have been.” is suspect.

      On the other hand, there is plenty of science that shows the serious negative health consequences of these foods. Mayo, a food you say is good for you, is made with a lot of egg. And yet, if you look on this site, you will see that there is scientific evidence that even a single egg a day leads to early death (higher all cause mortaility). That’s a pretty serious drawback. Check out this other blog post from Dr. Greger for other bad news about eggs:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/blog/2011/08/31/bad-egg/

      The solution: Why not just eat the foods that don’t have the large negative consequences? That way you don’t have to worry about whether the benefits outweigh the costs. You can just enjoy benefits.

    • Matt

      Ok……… first thing, the only fats you really need, that is, you must get from foods are omega 3 and 6. The products you mention contain more of one of those, usually omega 6 and when the balance is skewed the outcome is negative. That is… inflammation, then there’s the arachidonic acid that also contributes and more things that i get bored even mentioning (i’m a medical doctor…… where do animals get this fats… from plants. Then there’s monounsaturated, which may be good for you but you don’t need….and to make the story short, there’s 2 things about cancer cells that are constant 1)lack of oxygen, 2) fat in droplets inside the cell… made from, saturated fats….. which also interfere with the signals in and out the cell making…. diabetes adn when in your blood vessels they get oxidized…. because animals don’t have very many antioxidants and make heart attacks………. and the list goes on.

  • http://www.baselinedietsolution.com ScottF

    I encourage you to visit my website. All of the information compiled on the website is based on proven medical science. These statements are not based on my opinion, but on actual findings that I have uncovered through more than 15 years of research. I’m not a physician, so I want anyone who is interested in following the diet, or who is, to consult with their physician, but the proof of these statements can be found in my blood test results, and the results of clients and friends who have followed my diet. In March of 2008, my Hemoglobin A1C was at 8.2, which is considered a high risk level. One year later, my levels were at 5.7, which are in the ideal range. These results, as well as lowered triglycerides, lowered LDL, and increased HDL were easily attained by following a diet that is high in M&P fats, lowered protein, and low in carbohydrates. Another client, who is at an ideal weight, and from all physical appearance, seemed healthy, was admitted to the hospital and was on the verge of kidney failure due to a Hemoglobin A1C level of 15.8! In only 9 weeks of following the Baseline Diet, he went from 14.1 to 7.7! He lowered his total cholesterol from 308 to 180, lowered his LDL from 217 to 108, and lowered his triglycerides from 108 to 64.

    Cutting out the main sources of carbohydrates and sugars, and understanding portion sizes of the beneficial fats, and proteins are necessary for anyone to attain good health and weight control.

    The scientific “findings” from Dr. Gregor, in my opinion, may be lacking. What other foods were these people consuming? I highly doubt that they only ate one egg a day for 20 years as their only source of nutrition. I would like to know what their diets consisted of on a daily basis, and then we can pin-point the culprits of their decreased life-span and health problems associated with it.
    Look at the Inuit cultures, whose diets consist of 75% fat and 25% protein (0% carbohydrates). They lived long, healthy, energetic lives until government subsidized, high-carbohydrate foods were introduced to their diets. A perfect example of how a high fat diet should not be considered a “bad thing”.

    Understanding the different types of cholesterol is also very important. Our bodies naturally create cholesterol (serum), so those who naturally have higher cholesterol may want to avoid foods with added dietary cholesterol. On that point, cholesterol-free mayonnaise is available, but still contains all of the healthy M&P fats which are beneficial for decreasing LDL and triglycerides, and also contain no carbohydrates, which allow people to control blood sugar levels.
    Please visit my website for more information. http://www.baselinedietsolution.com

    • Matt

      Although i agree with you in some things, i think it’s simple…….. animals resemble you, when you eat them some things are good for you but a lot of them are bad, because their bodies are detoxifying and oxidizing just as yours is right now. Not so with plants which are actually high in antoxidants (they have to be tough… endure sun all day and cold nights) and some are medicinal, just don’t eat the toxic ones. About the benefits to your health… the same ones or better could have been accomplished by a plant based diet as has been proved in entire populations (China, Marshall Islands, etc) About cultures there’s a lot of diets and it’s success commonly depends on the environment they’re living in…. for example, giving a high omega diet to african natives is actually detrimental to their health but Inuit need them to endure cold weathers. Even so research points out Inuit had a lot of degenerative diseases mainly from bones and joints. Now i DON’T want to eat less, most people feel the same way too… I EAT A LOT! sometimes 6 or 7 times a day……. i’m not fat, no matter how much i eat and i feel 10 times better than when i ate differently, much less and WAS FAT. Everybody is entitled to an opinion… this one works for me… Oh, check the diet of the Tarahumara, high endurance athletes, that one is interesting.

      • Matt

        If you want mono and polyunsaturated fats get them from plants, that’s where the animals got them in the first place because they can’t just a you can’t synthesize them themselves and this way you don’t get all the other junk that is supposed to be buffered by such fats. But really isn’t.

        • http://www.baselinedietsolution.com ScottF

          As I said, my diet consists of mainly M&P fats, protein and low-carbohydrates. I eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes, some fruits, healthy oils, mayonnaise, poultry and fish. Most of my fat intake (M&P fats) is to give me a baseline level of energy which lasts and maintains itself throughout the day. I eat small meals and snacks throughout the day and then eat a larger portion at night, on an average day. On days that I’m active, I eat more of course, because my body will burn those extra calories. If I want to eat a scoop of ice cream, or have a steak and potatoes, then I do. I just know that increased level of activity is required to burn those extra calories and use them as sources of energy rather than letting them turn into body fat. I was still obese when I was 6 weeks into my Baseline Diet, but I felt energetic, my blood sugar levels were more under control, and I felt better all around. When I say, eating less, I don’t mean eating a small amount of any food, just to limit caloric intake. I say eating less, but eating the right foods which will give health benefits and DECREASE HUNGER. Eating a sub sandwich, which is LOADED with carbs will not satisfy you as much as a non-starchy veggie salad with some chicken cooked in healthy M&P fat oil, and topped with sunflower seeds and a nice high quality, full fat dressing. This meal will satisfy hunger, give you energy and at the same time, provide your body with valued nutrients and the necessary ingredients to burn off unwanted fat, or sustain healthy weight.
          It isn’t about denying yourself food, it’s about giving your body the foods it needs. I really encourage you to take a look at my website to get the full scope of what I’m talking about.

          I do agree, that everyone has their own opinions. I just want to share what worked and is working for me. 4 years ago, I was in terrible health, and my doctor said I probably wouldn’t live for another 10 years. Now, I’m at an ideal weight and my heart health is ideal. I am Type 1 diabetic, and my physicians are astonished by my Hemoglobin levels. They have even been a little skeptical on my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, because all tests show that I’ve achieved such ideal levels that they believe my pancreas really does produce insulin. However, test after test proves that I am indeed a Type 1 diabetic. My diet is just helping me to maintain such good baseline levels in all areas of health.
          I am reserved to say it, but maybe certain people want us to believe a certain way because our ill health benefits them.

    • Thea

      ScottF: I am not impressed with the logic of this post, so I won’t be checking out your website. However, I can see that you are sincere in your beliefs. I wish you all the luck with your health.

      • Matt

        I wish the best for you too, Scott. As i said everyone should do what works best for them.

      • http://www.baselinedietsolution.com ScottF

        I wish you the best as well. If you’ve found what works for you, then that is great! I hope you share it with others so that they may benefit from your knowledge. That is my only goal here, to share what I know, so that others may benefit from the information, and use what works for them.

        • Matt

          The diabetic people i’ve known are very well informed and like to share it…. i mean their lives revolve around these issues. Although i can see there’s some truth in what you’ve shared i still think vegetarian is better BUT……. i’m really glad it’s been working for you, i mean that’s the whole point of it.

  • Beryl

    Shame on her. She has a lot of blood on her hands, human as well as animal.

  • blestmom

    Shame, shame.  As a physician, you know type-2 diabetes is not caused by “ham & cream cheese.”  Exercise and judicious use of carbohydrates are Paula’s answer.  “Moderation in all things” would solve a lot of health problems.

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