Dr Seegen of Vienna explains how to use diet to treat diabetes - "There should be absolute avoidance of carbohydrates, and accordingly a diet composed exclusively of fat and meat."
January 1, 1890
The Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus by Professor Josef Seegen
In the treatment of diabetes the diet plays tho most important part. We cannot attack the real cause of the disease because we do not know it. Our task, then, is to prevent, so far as is possible, sugar-production. This can bo done only in the mild form of diabetes. The diet should be regulated as follows:
There should be absolute avoidance of carbohydrates, and accordingly a diet composed exclusively of fat and meat. Cantani and other physicians have wished to embody this principle in its entirety in their practice, and Cantani believes that he has seen a cure following a long-continued diet composed exclusively of meat. The reader has never seen so fortunate a result. Absolute meat diet, if it be long continued, has undoubtedly the advantage that it permits a certain tolerance for starch; but this tolerance is a very limited one, and a diabetic who, after a long-continued life of meat diet, allowed himself to live like a healthy person, would pay heavily for it.
Aside from its great difficulty of accomplishment, a diet composed entirely of meat has this great drawback: cases so treated quickly acquire a catarrhal gastritis and enteritis. Besides this, the less-determined patients generally break through their diet regulations and eat injurious food without stint, because the treatment is so very unpleasant and of such long duration.
The theory that diabetes can be cured has another great disadvantage connected with it. Patients from whose urine the sugar has all disappeared except a trace, consider themselves cured, and think their diet may be varied. In this way relapses occur.
The idea which Seegen follows out in treating his diabetes cases is as follows: there should be ordered for the patient such a diet as can be continued throughout a life-time, with the aid of a strong determination. A diet of meat and fat should prevail. Seegen warns you that the patient must not be allowed to eat meat and eggs in too great quantities for the purpose of building himself up. A diabetic patient does not need more meat than any healthy person who lives chiefly on a meat diet. But with this diet the patient should be ordered green vegetables in any quantity desired, and sour (not sweet) fruit in moderate amount. Bread is indispensable for a time, and Seegen orders 40-60 grs. per diem, but speaks most decidedly against fresh bread, because this always contains starch, and if allowed, the control of the diet (over the disease) will be lost. An exclusive meat diet is strenuously to be recommended :
(1.) If it is necessary to decide whether the disease is of the first or second form.
(2.) When wounds do not heal and when gangrene sets in, or a surgical operation is necessary.
Sour (not sweet) red or white wine is allowed in any quantity, and yet it is an error to allow a diabetic patient to drink large quantities of wine with the idea of strengthening him. Beer may be allowed in moderate quantity, (that is, about half a litre). In diabetes of the severe form abstinence from carbohydrates is important only because, as a result of such abstinence, the excretion of sugar is markedly lessened. To restrict cases of this kind to a meat diet is not indicated, for it makes little difference whether 20-30 grs. (sugar), more or less, are excreted ; and the advantage gained is not equivalent to the privation endured.