16th March 1878. Banting.

Let Food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food: Hippocrates.

‘Obesity rather than under-nourishment is worrying school doctors’, no not a recent report, but cited in Punch Magazine in 1965.(1)

Today in 1878 William Banting the obese Royal undertaker died. However he was better known for being a forerunner of the slimming industry with his low-carbohydrate diet. His devotees were said to be ‘Banting’.(2)

One of the current health issues is that of Type 2 Diabetes resulting from too much dietary sugar-as Glucose-the primary fuel used by the body for energy. This Diabetes prevents the Pancreas from producing enough Insulin. What is alarming is the rise of under 18’s being diagnosed with the disease.

Insulin is the key which ‘unlocks’ the cells so too little means body cells are only partially ‘unlocked’ or not at all, so Glucose builds up in the blood with the need for the kidneys to regularly excrete it through urine rather than its being stored or burnt off.

One result is the build up of acid Ketones associated with this need for the body to burn its own fat where Glucose isn’t being burnt, which happens with diabetics, who with insufficient insulin cant get glucose from the blood to convert into energy.(3)

The build up can lead to Ketoacidosis a metabolic state associated with high concentration of Ketone bodies formed by the breakdown of fatty acids.

It is a pathological metabolism state where the body fails to adequately regulate Ketones. This accumulation reduces Ph of the blood which can cause death. It is common in untreated Type I Diabetes.(4)

In Type 1 owing to Pancreas problems, and in Type 2 for reasons unclear but is statistically associated with obesity, but why the cells can’t take up glucose is unclear but might be something to do with fatty cell tissue.

Metformin is now becoming one of the world’s most prescribed drugs which helps to control blood sugar.

(1) On 24.11.1965. P.764.

(2) The 19thc manufacturer Bulstrode was a dieter when he poured himself out a glass of water, and opened a sandwich box. His brother-in-law Vincey however was unconvinced saying ‘life wants padding’. P.153 Middlemarch.

(3) This burning up can result from starving or excessive exercise, and even after a night’s sleep can increase.

(4) Many sugars are ketones (ketoses) as with fructose. The suffix ‘ose’ denotes a sugar.

One way to recognise a build up of ketones is the acetone aroma from the breath.


Insulin is naturally produced when we eat with the stomach sending a message to the brain that food is present and the brain sending a message to the neuro-transmitter, super-highway, the spinal cord to the pancreas warning that insulin is required to deal with the sugar when food is digested, and transported to the blood.

Ref: Answers.com.

Ref: diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-ketones.

Ref: wikipedia.org/ketone_bodies.




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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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