Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: DeWayne McCulley | Xerox Engineer| Penfield, NY | Reporter: Chris Swingle
Determined to Defeat Diabetes
With precision, persistence and a veggie-heavy diet, a Penfield engineer finds a way to tame the disease
(February 15, 2006) — A Penfield man is spreading the good news about eating green vegetables for breakfast. He believes that spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, raw juices, and wild salmon along with other lifestyle changes, saved him from the devastation of diabetes.
DeWayne McCulley was a once-shy, methodical electrical engineer who didn't set out to evangelize about what he calls the “trinity of vegetables”. But when his Xerox co-workers and others heard that he'd gone from being hospitalized in a diabetic coma back to good health within 4 months in 2002, they wanted to know how.
In more than 48 formal talks over the past few years at various churches, diabetes support groups and anywhere else people invited him, McCulley estimates he has told over 2,200 people how he devised his own healthy diet by experimenting with different foods and measuring their effect on his blood sugar levels. His drastic changes enabled him to lose 50 pounds, stop injecting insulin and stop taking blood-thinning and cholesterol-lowering medications.
As a growing number of Americans develop Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, the engineer’s message is one of hope. Diabetes is unusual, he points out, in that diabetics can try healthy changes and promptly tell whether they're helping by testing their blood sugar levels. He says people can customize his program based on what works best for them.
McCulley emphasizes urgency. Taking diabetes medication may address the symptoms but doesn't solve the cause of the chronic disease. He believes people must eat the right combination of foods — healthy carbohydrates, proteins, fats and liquids — to repair the damaged cells. Diabetes is a problem of the body's (damaged) cells not recognizing insulin, which the cells need in order to absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream for energy.
McCulley has published a comprehensive 400-page book, Death to Diabetes ($24.95) that is available on Amazon.com (and in his new online store). He admits he has no medical training and that his experience is only anecdotal. But his real-life story resonates with many people because he explains the disease in a way that people understand it and can see why and how to fight back to beat the disease.
Local nutrition and health professionals say that they mostly agree with McCulley's program.
"If people followed his message — the basics of the diet he recommends — more than half the people would not be diabetic," predicts Dr. William Bayer.
The family physician heard McCulley speak at a health fair and invited him to speak to Bayer's diabetic support group last month.
One patient has since changed her diet, lost several pounds and dropped her average blood sugar by 20 points, says Bayer: "That's fantastic. For her, it was like a miracle, actually."
McCulley’s wellness protocol is very simple and easy to use.
Jean Bauch, a registered dietitian and program coordinator of Unity Health's Diabetes, Nutrition and Weight Management Center, reviewed McCulley's book at the Democrat and Chronicle's request and says research doesn't support some of his nutritional claims. She also takes issue with his back-cover description as an ex-diabetic, because most diabetics, even those who control the disease with diet and exercise at first, eventually need medication in a couple years. However, Bauch praises McCulley's efforts to reach diabetics, especially if his folksy message motivates people who haven't listened to health professionals.
Veggies to the rescue
McCulley's journey began after he was released from Rochester General Hospital in April 2002, where he had spent 13 days and his blood glucose level had soared to 1,337 mg/dL — more than twelve hundred points above normal!
One morning at home he felt shaky, knew he needed to eat but had run out of his usual Cheerios. So he ate some Brussels sprouts that his mother had prepared. Ninety minutes later, his blood sugar levels were better than usual. But McCulley’s doctor told him this was an anomaly.
"Anybody here know an engineer?" McCulley asked an audience of about 50 people at Mood Makers bookstore in Rochester. "I'm thinking, 'It’s an anomaly because I only have one data point. I need more data – that’s what we (engineers) do -- collect and analyze data.’ "
Brussels sprouts, salmon, olive oil and water dominated every meal and snack. After a week, his blood sugar levels were even better, though still at diabetic levels. Testing his body systematically, just as he'd trouble-shoot Xerox printers at work, he tried other healthy foods.
"Within a month and a half, I had my blood glucose back to normal." He says he gradually weaned himself off insulin injections in less than four months, over objections of his endocrinologist, who felt that McCulley was in denial about his diabetes.
This new way of eating was a radical shift for McCulley, who had been 60 pounds overweight, craved pasta, French fries and loved bowls of ice cream and brownies topped with diet Dream Whip — an image that draws embarrassed laughter and calls of "Oh yes" from his audiences.
McCulley tells them he was motivated to change by his mother and daughter Cynthia, and because he hated injecting himself with insulin four times a day and he was frightened by the diabetics he saw at a diabetes conference that had amputated limbs or thick glasses.
He read many diabetes books, tested his blood sugar 5-8 times a day — more than the 3-4 times recommended by his endocrinologist — and kept detailed notes, which he shared with his doctors. His tests measuring his average blood glucose over the previous three months confirmed how well he was doing and what changes he needed to make.
Disciplined approach (to reversing diabetes)
Dr. Periasamy Samikkannu, McCulley's primary care physician, says McCulley brought his diabetes under control unusually quickly. "I'm happy about what he has done," says Samikkannu, who tells other patients of McCulley's success — anonymously — because it's inspirational.
"Diabetes is a disease of discipline," the doctor says. "It's a disease of lifelong changes. It is the patient who does most of the job."
McCulley generally rejects potatoes, white rice, pasta, processed foods, saturated fat and trans fat. He advocates fiber-rich foods, white tea, wild salmon, spinach, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, garlic, onions, raw vegetable juices, chickpeas, flaxseed, and dark grapes. He recommends consistent exercise as well as working with your doctor and nurturing your spirit through prayer, yoga, meditation or other stress-relieving techniques.
Phyllis Likely of Henrietta has been eating more broccoli, spinach salad and salmon since hearing McCulley at the Mood Makers bookstore. "I think the thing that sticks with me is you are the keeper of your own health," says Likely, 63, a diabetic and retired principal of French Road Elementary School in Brighton.
Likely takes medication for diabetes, which is currently under control. But, she says, "I could do better. I think the talk was motivation enough to kick it to a different level."
What separates McCulley’s wellness program from so many others is that he believes in the power of medical science and his book guides diabetics to work with their doctors by following his 10 key steps; and to use his 6-stage model and a medical protocol of blood test measurements as a roadmap to guide you through each stage of the recovery/reversal process – giving hope to many diabetics.
McCulley credits his success to strong parents, great teachers, and the blue-collar work ethic of the steel mills in Western Pennsylvania. McCulley states emphatically, “For some strange reason, I was blessed with great teachers who reinforced what my parents had instilled in me -- that I could do anything as long as I was willing to put in the effort and do the work. Ironically, that work ethic helped me to successfully fight and beat my diabetes.”
Carlos Ortiz staff photographer
DeWayne McCulley explains how he’s beaten back diabetes. The charts at left detail his view of the disease’s course and how to recover.
News Update: Could the registered dietitian be wrong? It's been more than 12 years now, and Mr. McCulley still has normal blood glucose levels and still requires no medication.
Food for Thought: Despite the evidence, why do these so-called healthcare "professionals" and other medical people continue to push the drugs? And, when someone improves their health and no longer requires the drugs, why aren't these professionals happy for the patient? Do I really need to tell you why? Have you figured it out?
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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