We are living in a diabetes pandemic.
But diabetes isn’t just about blood sugar, it’s systemic inflammation, incessant cravings-driven eating.
And it’s impacting our nation in ways most are completely unaware of.
From our children’s exposure to the U.S. dietary regulations in our public schools and the rise in ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), to behavioral issues in the prison system where most inmates emerge severely diabetic.
We are generating a massive problem of staggering social disfunction most clearly evident in our nation’s urban areas. As a nation we are failing.
And our Forget To Eat™ Podcast guest, Dr. Gurpreet Padda is right in the middle of it. Based in St. Louis, MO, Dr. Padda and his Padda Institute is highly regarded as one of the best pain centers in St. Louis.
Interview Transcription: Rats, Food, Prisons… Reversing The Diabetes Pandemic
B. McDermott: Welcome listeners. This is Barbara McDermott with SHIFT Formula and it’s my great privilege to share with you today our guest, Dr. Gurpreet Padda, an interventional pain physician.
Dr Padda, what makes you so interested in the metabolic field when your focus is on pain intervention?
Dr. G. Padda: I practice in the urban core, in St Louis city. What I found in the patients that I was practicing on, I could treat their pain directly, I could get to them and I could treat the one particular joint that was bad or the disc, but they would have a recurrence.
And they would keep recycling over and over and over again.
And so I tried to figure out why it is that they came to me in the first place, which was usually they had a traumatic event.
But why was it that their pain was maintained and then why was it that they would recycle? Why was it that they were coming back?
And so the initial thing is, you look at the patient and think, “Well, goodness, they’re really overweight”.
Because that’s what you see.
And then when you start measuring the metrics and you start looking at everything associated with them. You start spreading out from just the simple tests and you look at things like hemoglobin A1C, you look at insulin levels, you look at GGT for liver function, you look at homocysteine levels and transference, and you start getting a bigger picture of what’s going on.
You realize that the patients are severely metabolically inflamed.
Dr. G. Padda: I also have a background in addiction and that combination with my background in pain and this discovery, not discovery, but un-covery for me of metabolic inflammation basically brought me to a common nexus.
You know, here I am dealing with severely obese patients, patients with severe addictions and patients with severe chronic inflammation and pain.
They’re the same patients. It’s the same common nexus.
And so, that’s how I ended up in this field. I’m dealing with patients that are extremely sick, or they’ve become disabled because they can’t function.
And what’s causing that metabolic inflammation, it’s our food supply.
We have, an epidemic of obesity. We have an epidemic of addiction. We have an epidemic of chronic inflammatory conditions.
It’s all interrelated and pain is the common final pathway. It’s the scream that the body has, something is wrong. And that’s how they end up at me.
B. McDermott: The individuals in our SHIFT Community become much more powerfully aware of glucose-heavy foods.
It’s the carbohydrate category, and certainly the processed versions, that are our highest glucose heavy foods.
So, many in our community, just by down-shifting the amount of glucose, I call it going from glucose stacking to glucose tracking, they reduce glucose overburden and naturally their insulin levels follow.
And insulin levels start to drop as well. And the relief from pain comes very quickly when we understand the pathway. It’s really powerful.
Now, you mentioned obesity earlier. Is it an epidemic or is it pandemic?
Talk a little bit about that.
Dr.G. Padda: I use the word epidemic because that’s the one that everybody understands.
And I look at it this way. If I told you that there was a disease coming and it was going to affect 75% of the world’s population and 90% of the people that got this disease, we’re going to end up becoming pre-diabetic or diabetic and 30% of those, were going to end up with end-stage renal disease.
And just in the U. S. this disease was going to cost us $1.3 trillion a year.
You’d be worried, right?
Well, this disease is here. It is called pre-diabetes, diabetes and obesity.
This disease is right in front of us. One out of every five children has this.
So that’s why I call it an epidemic.
But it’s more than that. It’s a pandemic.
Dr. G. Padda: You know that it’s usually an environmental cause and we call it a pandemic because the animals that eat the same food that we eat get the same diseases.
The monkeys get the same disease, the dogs get the same disease.
The cats get the same disease, the rats get the same disease.
Anything that eats the food that we eat gets this.
There was a beautiful study that was just done recently and it was done in New York City. And what they did was they looked at obese rats because we’ve never had obese rats until recently. But now we’ve got these lumbering giant rats that have severe diabetes who are cognitively impaired because they’ve gotten diabetes and insulin resistance in their brain.
So they are wandering around the cities in New York.
Normally rats are terrified of daylight and they scurry along the edges of things. Once you make a rat cognitively impaired, it just wanders in the middle of the street because it has lost its fear.
The rat is cognitively impaired.
This is very similar to what we have with Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment as we have type three diabetes of the brain in humans.
So this is the pandemic that we face and that pandemic’s, central crux is our food supply.
You know, I love what you teach. Your concept of SHIFT.
And the reason why I love it is because it goes to the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is insulin resistance.
And what happens when you shift your food supply, when you shift and change how you’re eating is that you have more hours that you’re not eating than you are eating.
And what that’s doing is it’s shifting the amount of stored glycogen that’s in your liver.
Your liver has a glycogen carrying capacity of 500 grams. Your blood stream has a glucose carrying capacity of about five to 10, maybe 15 grams, but not more than that.
And if you’re eating 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, it only takes you one teaspoon to overwhelm your blood capacity.
The other 21 teaspoons go to your liver.
And if you never depleted the glycogen reserve in your liver in the first place, it overflows. You become insulin resistant.
You accumulate fat and you become pre-diabetic and then eventually diabetic.
So we need to have periods of time greater that we don’t eat. So we can deplete our glycogen reserves in our liver so that we can function.
And that’s one of the biggest problems that I find. We have a constant foraging of sugar and we never deplete the glycogen reserve that we have in our liver. And so we’re always at that full status. a
You have to deplete that glycogen reserve.
B. McDermott: And I guess the challenge we have for depleting our liver’s glycogen supply is the cravings.
Cravings are what many can’t rise above. You know, the chemistry driven desire to continue eating is virtually impossible to overcome. It’s so powerful. Talk about addiction, right?
Can you expand on why food and in particular glucose and fructose rich food addiction is a real and valid challenge for individuals?
Dr. G.Padda: Yeah. So I think there are a couple of elements of addiction that we should discuss.
Our food supply is tainted.
And it’s tainted in such a way that our large food manufacturers are manipulating the amount of fructose.
High fructose corn syrup is supposed to be 55% fructose, 45% glucose. That’s what high fructose corn syrup is.
But the food industry is manipulating the food supply so that it’s 60% fructose instead of 55% fructose.
You’re probably wondering why they’re spending extra money to increase the amount of fructose. Because normally these companies want to save money.
So why are they doing this?
Because glucose does not activate as much dopamine release as does fructose.
Fructose kicks in the nucleus accumbens and dumps a bunch of dopamine.
So you end up with a tremendous surge of dopamine that makes you want to eat again and eat again and eat again.
So that’s issue one. Our food supply is tainted in such a way that the processed foods are hyper-addictive and that’s going to be a significant challenge.
The second factor is that we have an epidemic of loneliness.
So researchers did an interesting rat study. We do rat studies all the time… and we just happen to be the rats in some cases.
But in this particular rat study they put the rats in a cage and offered them water, or cocaine plus water.
Well, each rat was alone. They found the water and drank that. It was okay.
But, when they found the cocaine-water they couldn’t stop drinking it.
They drank it to the point where they were unconscious.
They didn’t eat food. And eventually they died.
And so the natural conclusion from that was if you give an addictive substance to a rat, it’s going to consume that addictive substance to the point where it dies.
And so that was the initial conclusion.
Keep in mind, those rats could also be considered humans.
You give an addictive substance to a human, they’re going to eat it to the point where they die.
And on that basis, when we had people coming back from Vietnam, we knew that about 60% to 70% of them had been using heroin or some form of amphetamine or some form of opiate that was highly addicted.
We assumed that when these people came back from Vietnam, we would have zombies on the streets.
But that’s not what happened. Only 5% came back having an addiction.
What happened to the rest? Why weren’t they addicted?
Because in Vietnam they were addicted, but in the U.S. they weren’t addicted.
So they repeated the rat study. They gave the rats water or they gave the rats cocaine plus water.
But this time what they did was they put them in an enhanced environment. They were given the opportunity to play with other rats, to have sex with other rats, to have a maze and run around.
Low and behold, none of those rats died because they weren’t lonely.
They weren’t isolated.
They had other rats to play with.
And so when I deal with weight loss management, my main thing is to generate a community for my people.
Whether that’s me interacting with their church groups and interacting in a way that allows them to communicate with each other and to co-share, we have to eliminate loneliness to treat addiction.
That’s how my addiction side becomes more and more relevant for me, it’s that we have to realize that a big part of addiction is loneliness. It’s not just the substance and it’s not just your genetics, it’s your interaction with society.
And we would think that we have all this cool tech that we have Facebook and we have Twitter, but that’s actually creating more loneliness because there’s not a true human interaction.
B. McDermott: Absolutely. You know that chemistry of ‘love’, right? How emotionally we experience the same neurotransmitters or feelings whether triggered by gossip, a chocolate chip cookie, or love.
There are emotional similarities between the three. Gossip meaning a good thing, being socially connected, in community, you know, it’s really powerful when you can whittle it all down.
What an excellent study to help us see it all so much more clearly.
You and I spoke a bit before this podcast about your work with the prison system. Do you want to segue into that?
Dr. G. Padda: Yeah. So I grew up, I actually grew up in India.
I moved to the U.S. when I was probably about eight or nine and I became integrated into the U.S. school system. So I was here in the early mid- seventies.
The dietary guidelines kicked in and were being discussed in 1977 and they were implemented in 1980.
The dietary guidelines from the U.S. specifically stipulated that we should eliminate saturated healthy fats and replace them with vegetable oil. And as we did that, they also recommended that artificial sweeteners were a good thing and that we should start using those.
And when we started to demonize fat, especially the good fat, and replaced those fats with vegetable oil, we also started to increase the amount of carbohydrates.
So it’s interesting, you know, here I was a little kid and I’m in India, we’re thin as a rail because we don’t have enough food and we use regular saturated fat.
And yet as I saw immigrants that were here in the U.S., and I was in the St. Louis City public school system, as we saw this transition. People started to get fatter.
And we really see the takeoff of obesity in 1977 to 1980 and there’s a direct vertical climb from there up and you can see it on every obesity epidemic chart that you can find.
So we see this epidemic of obesity.
Why is this relevant to criminals? Why is this relevant to jails? Why is this relevant to schools? J
ails and schools are an amazing ‘rat cage’ because the dietary guidelines control the food that those kids get.
And a lot of times in the urban core, that may be the only meal of the day that the kid gets.
So the kids getting a specific meal formulated by U.S. dietary guidelines, that meal’s dietary guideline stipulates how much carbohydrate and how much vegetable oil they get.
What we found was that the rates of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), started to climb and by the mid-eighties we had a serious issue.
ADD rates were going up and in school, behavior issues for kids were going up and their exposure to criminality was going up and they were getting kicked out of school.
These kids were ending up in prison systems.
And the food is even more controlled in the prison system.
So now we have a prison system that’s feeding these kids turned criminals the very same diet that contributed to their incarceration in the first place.
And what happens is that these people end up becoming disenfranchised because when they get out, they can’t vote anymore and their specific community suffers because they lose the population that votes.
It suffers because they’ve lost the economic force that would have been productive. And we sideline these people and we disable them and then we have to pay for them.
So, as a society, what we’re doing is we’re creating our own mess.
We’re incarcerating people because of the food that we give them because it increases their likelihood of ADD and oppositional disorders.
And at the end of it, we end up basically criminalizing everything for them and they can never function.
So we end up caught. It ends up costing us as a society because of the food that we subsidize, that we pay for, to give to these people which becomes our large, large volume ‘rat study’.
So that’s how I got involved.
I’ve been working with groups like Exoneration Nation, which is people who have been released from prison and almost all of them come out with severe metabolic dysfunction.
Almost all of them are exposed to vegetable oil, high amounts of grain and high amounts of sugar.
And they’re all coming out of prison pre-diabetic or diabetic, or insulin resistant. And when you have that confluence, you increase the risk of solid tumors, you increase the risk of cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and all of those other expenses, and it’s going to create a tragedy for us.
So I’ve been trying to work at the school system level and at the prison level to change those controlled environments to help people.
B. McDermott: Oh. On a very personal level, I can share this.
We have a dear friend who was incarcerated, just for a few years. This man came out of prison so severely diabetic he could barely walk.
Since SHIFTing, he’s reversed that.
And as a past school teacher, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen children disciplined for a behavioral outburst after the parents and the faculty gave the children ridiculous amounts of sugar in the form of some kind of reward system.
We reward our children with the very kinds of foods that are going to promote their inability to control their behavior and cause emotional outbursts.
Dr. G. Padda: Yeah. If you’ve ever been to a nutrition conference, which I’ve been to, the biggest sponsors of nutrition at these nutrition conferences are typically the big food companies.
These big food companies are basically selling quote ‘healthy bars’ and they’re basically Snickers bars.
And I don’t want to belittle Snickers. I’m not trying to, but, they’re basically candy bars.
They have some protein in them, but they’re basically processed high-glycemic index, processed sugar.
And even when it’s quote fiber, it still has a ton of other compounds in it. Some of the whitening agents cause tremendous leaky gut like titanium dioxide, which is basically what causes something to be white.
So, when we process these foods and we get farther and farther away from how they were really intended, that processing destroys our metabolism.
It destroys our gut bacteria. It changes the absorption of short chain fatty acids. And it changes the absorption of carbohydrate.
So, it leads to what the calorie paradox is.
You know, a calorie of this is not equal to a calorie of that. It depends on what happens with that calorie and the information contained within it.
B. McDermott: Yeah, it’s so complicated. And yet when someone like you puts it out there in such simple terms it’s so much easier to understand.
But the application of food rules can be so tricky because my gosh, we’re inundated with so much misinformation. We’re bombarded with food marketing and messages, social cues, and so much more.
Dr. G. Padda: It’s like the message of cereal.
How ofter have we heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
It’s not the best meal of the day for anyone except for the cereal company.
Because if you eat a cereal breakfast, two hours later, you’re going to be hungry. And then you’re gonna eat in two hours. And then you’ll eat in two hours after that, and then you’re going to eat in two hours after that, etc.
And if you spend your entire day eating every two hours, you never deplete your glycogen.
If you never deplete your glycogen, you became insulin resistant in 28 days. Later, you’re going to have a serious problem.
I’m surprised that we don’t have more diabetes.
I think that humans are very hard to kill. And I’m really surprised that not everybody’s diabetic because they should be based upon the way that we have feedings that are like goals to hit.
Thank God we have a complex adaptive system that allows the progeny to proceed.
But there are some serious issues with our food supply.
We don’t have an epidemic of impotence just for nothing.
It’s another area that I find where people don’t realize that the vegetable oil antagonizes nitric oxide synthesis and nitrates. Nitric oxide synthesis is necessary to get erection. So that’s one of the reasons, it’s not the only reason, but it’s one of the reasons why our birth rates are falling.
It’s also the epigenetic effect of some of our sugars that we’re eating. We’re predisposing our kids to becoming diabetic. We’re doing that in the womb and we’re doing that a generation back.
So, what we’re dealing with is a massive thing. I would put this at a climate level. We’ve got a climate issue, but the dietary issue is a climate issue because it’s so pervasive.
B. McDermott: You hit the nail on the head for me, for the next generation.
Again, as a school teacher, as a parent, I see our children and our children’s children having to bear the burden of being raised in this environment. The least we can do is shed some light on it and make some changes in our own lives. Be an example, and get that ripple out effect going.
I’d love to see SHIFT getting into the school system. If our young people understood what it was all about. Place the power of knowledge in their hands. They’d say, “I can handle this.”
You know, any of us can SHIFT the way we eat if we just understand how it all works.
Dr. G. Padda: I agree with you.
It’s a fundamental misunderstanding, but it’s not amongst the lay public.
I have to tell you about a study done by Credit Swiss, which is an insurance company.
There’s nobody smarter than an insurance company because they’re insuring when you die so that they don’t have to pay you. And they’re trying to figure it out because you’re paying them and they want to figure out how not to pay you.
So they’re trying to figure out if you’re going to die early or if you’re going to die late.
And they do all kinds of calculations and studies where they figured out how much do physicians know and what do physicians think?
And the vast majority of physicians continue to suppose that the saturated fat that you eat is the cholesterol in your bloodstream.
They have missed the point that the cholesterol in your bloodstream is not the saturated fat that you ate.
Just because you have cholesterol in your blood and it’s sitting as an atheroma on your coronary artery, that may not be the fat that you ate. That may be the secondary response from inflammation and that may be the recovery molecule.
That may be the marker of injury and it may not be the cause of injury.
Glucose is a cause.
Glucose and vegetable oil and things that make leaky gut. Those are the causes and we need to take a step back.
We need to also recognize the incentive that a physician and others have that drives this.
Because if I was playing a game and I was strategizing, I’d ask myself, “How do I make the most amount of money?” “Well, I’d want the sickest patients.”
“Okay, how do I get the sickest patients?” “
Well, I delay my treatment to the point where they’re sick and they’re dependent upon me.”
So what that means to me is if I’m treating pre-diabetic patients, I don’t want to treat them at a hemoglobin between 5.1 or 5.7, I’m going to wait until 6.5 when they’re on insulin.
And then they have to come in and I can possibly do an amputation or I can do X, Y, Z.
So institutions will wait until the hemoglobin A1C is sufficiently high enough to start some of the more expensive drugs and treatment.
So you know, I am a cynic.
I have a background in economics as well. And so I look at things as a game theory.
If I’m completely cynical, what would I do as a drug company, even though I was given insulin for a dollar and I was told to give it or provide it freely.
The answer is, I’m going to modify this free insulin a little bit so that I, as a drug company can charge for it. And that’s exactly what happened.
In 1923, Frederick Banting and John Macleod of Canada received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin.
It was given by the Nobel laureates to the insulin companies who were to forever provide it for free.
But these companies changed insulin slightly so that they could charge $1,200 a month via a subscription program that you have to pay for for the rest of your life. That’s not cool, but that’s the model.
And so you know, you have to look at people’s drivers.
With big food companies, their driver is to sell as much food as they can at the lowest possible cost, at the highest frequency.
So they have to figure it out and they have to apply the technologies that they have.
When we got rid of smoking. When we finally said, “Hey, smoking is bad for you”, the big smoking companies moved over to the big food companies to figure out how to increase the likelihood of consumption.
And we’re going to see a similar thing with the marijuana industry. You’re going to see a large shift of the companies from alcohol and cigarettes and food infiltrating the marijuana industry to figure out how to make a previously non-addictive plant become hyper-addictive.
So we’re going to see a shift that will happen in the next five or 10 years.
You have to figure out what people’s motivations are.
B. McDermott: Well, Dr Padda, you made my day. You shared so many insightful and thought-provoking stories that really helped me visualize some powerful, but abstract concepts.
You know, I tend to be a bit naive.
That last story about the insulin, good grief. My daughter is insulin-dependent. The hardship is not only physical and emotional but financial, too.
One of my greatest victories is helping people get off insulin.
What a wonderful thing to not need to take insulin any longer. Powerful!
Thank you again, Dr. Padda, for taking the time to share your expertise.
I’d seen on your website something that spoke to me. You use the term ‘citizen scientist’.
You’re the kind of doctor who steps over the line and reaches down and lifts the rest of us up. You give us the awareness by simplifying the concepts that opens our eyes and makes us take a second look at things.
You know, when our loved ones are suffering, when people in our lives, or ourselves, are struggling we need to understand that the bigger powers really aren’t working for us.
I used to think my daughter was in good hands with all of her high paid experts. That she was truly supported by them. She wasn’t.
We must take matters into our own hands. We are ultimately responsible for ourselves. It takes rolling up our sleeves, digging in and taking a hard look at things.
Dr. G. Padda: And to be clear, my point is not to be a conspiracy person.
I don’t want to leave you guys there. But the motivations have to be perfectly clear for everyone to understand and to make the best decisions.
My hope is that people get the education that they need to take care of themselves.
B. McDermott: Absolutely. And we are not of the platform that medications are wrong or bad. Goodness, no.
A body needs insulin to stay alive.
But when we’re seduced or misled into believing it’s the answer.
Being told to just keep using it. That the only solution is to keep dosing more. That’s not good.
Dr. G. Padda: Thank you. It was wonderful.
You have a very wonderful voice and you know how to take really complex science and put it into a story complete with the research and anecdotal evidence.
That was great. Thank you so much.
You know, we’re of kin when it comes to time restricted nutrition.
I strongly urge people to, to restrict their feeding cycles. I believe in intermittent fasting strongly. And so, you know, I totally agree with what you guys are doing. That’s why I reached out to you to be a guest on the Forget To Eat™ Podcast.
B. McDermott: Thank you so much for that! Your validation is huge. We live it, continue to live it, continue to see our clients lives get so much better from it.
Okay. I’m gonna let you go. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday and we’ll be in touch. .
Thank you, Dr. Padda!