This is how they treated diabetes in 1917

For all the medical quackery back then, their treatment plan for diabetes was pretty solid. Today it’s just “here take these drugs!”

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  • I looked at that and thought “this must be fake, theres no way they had Philadelphia cream cheese in 1917”.

    Apparently they have had it since 1880.

  • Good lord, the low-fat craze set us back so far….

    Fuck you, big sugar!

  • Insulin for T1D is still a huge improvement on their lives.

    But then it’s gone on to ‘hey since we can give you as much insulin as you would like, eat the Standard American Diet with LOADS of carbs’ and it makes it harder (and more expensive/more insulin) to treat.

    The massive explosion of metabolic syndrome and insulin dependent T2D on a cocktail of ($$$) drugs told to eat carbs with every meal? That just leaves me wanting to cry.

  • MD here. I disagree with the “here take these meds.” Countless times patients are counseled on eating better, exercising, etc…guess what? They don’t. So they get pills then shots then PVD then kidney failure then Dialysis then amputations then they go blind and ultimately die.

  • Thanks, Ancel Keys! /s

  • That is so interesting! Thanks for posting it; I collect old books on cooking, baby and child care, etiquette, and health, and I’m always amazed at how often the old ways come back around again. 🙂

  • Med student here. In my 3 years of medical school, I’ve never seen a physician offer a patient medicine in lieu of a healthier diet. Treating diabetes with a modified diet is always #1, and it goes as far as referring patients to dietitians in many cases.

    Medical treatment of diabetes has come a long way, and unfortunately the average patient would rather just take a pill and keep eating the same high carb diet they were eating before. As doctors, we can only do so much. If a patient doesn’t want to eat healthier, we do the next best thing which is prescribe meds.

    *Steps off soap box.*

  • It seems so weird to me that we basically have no institutional memory of this kind of thing and have basically done a 180 with our nutritional culture in the last 100 years

  • It’s fascinating to know that they had saccharine then!

  • Check out [LETTER ON CORPULENCE]( from the 1860s.

    Its the Banting diet.

  • [FARINACEOUS]( The more you know….

  • Insulin isn’t a “drug”…

    Injectable insulin wasn’t created until 1922, and even then it was rare.

    Synthetic mass produced insulin wasn’t widely available until 1982…

  • I think society is a huge factor. People want a pill to fix everything. An overweight/diabetic person isn’t going to change their ways unless they want to. People absolutely love to eat. And won’t change because they know there’s a medication, even though changing could eliminate the need for medication.

  • Healthy people don’t make any money for doctors or drug companies.

  • I mean, for a type 1 there is no choice but to take insulin. Without it we die. “Just take these drugs!” Is a bit insulting, it’s not our fault our bodies don’t work correctly, no matter how well I eat I have to work my ass off to stay in range and insulin is a key pillar there. And insulin pumps and cgms will extend lives. I feel like I could potentially make it to 80 years old with these tools at my disposal. I agree the dietary treatments aren’t emphasized enough, I’m a huge proponent of Dr. Bernstein, but I’m so immensely grateful to live in a time with such powerful treatment options.

    Also, what works for one diabetic patient might not work for another. Even with keto they might require insulin/metaformin. The best strategy is a multi pronged one. Whatever lowers blood sugar should be implemented and that includes medicine. That’s the goal. Doesn’t matter how you get there. Take care of that first, worry about the rest after.

    Here’s a snapshot into the life of a type 1 diabetic:

  • I understand your point. But those drugs save people’s lives as well…

  • Wow. This creates so many questions as to wtf happened over the last 100 years for us to finally get back to this point.

  • I found this extract really interesting. I’ve been a type 1 for 40 years. My mother was a type 1 and so are both my brothers. Plus 15, yes, 15 cousins and cousins’ kids. Yes, all type 1.

    I find it interesting to see how management has changed from when I was diagnosed to today, but looking back to 1917, before insulin had even been invented – bloody hell.

  • I find the numerous anti-doctor comments in this thread to be disturbing.

  • What font is that

  • Everything old is new again: [Sarah Haller’s TED Talk](

  • There wasn’t a bazillion flavour of sugar back then tho.

  • Rum was allowed? I swear most rums have a lot of sugar

  • whiskey, rum, cognac

    damn straight

  • It’s still a viable plan today, it’s also used as treatment for long term sufferers of epilepsy. Drugs are used because they can be quantified easily which is important because if you’re (type 2)diabeeto chances are you don’t have the self control to to follow a plan.

    Source: GMother and Father are both T1 Diabeeto.

  • >Le big pharma

    One of my best friends is T1 diabetic and carb or no carb he would’ve died at 11 years old if not for “these drugs.” They didn’t have the ability in 1917 to make someone a literal cyborg with a device loaded with synthetic insulin synthesized by modified e. coli to replace a bad pancreas, they just made more child-sized coffins.

    They probably didn’t have nearly as much T2 diabetes because average people weren’t sitting down all day eating 3000+ calories a day like they are now, and keto is one great strategy for reversing that for sure, but that doesn’t mean you can fix every health problem with a meme diet cmon guys.

  • they forgot gin.

    gin soda cucumbres are too refreshing. add a sugarfree pineapple….

  • That’s basically the Keto diet

  • See, this makes so much more sense than what they tell you to eat now.

  • What is Clabber? Asking for a friend…

  • Very interesting….

    I read through the replies and don’t think I missed this… does anyone know why some of the foods under “Strictly Forbidden” have a red X by them?

  • Excellent treatment, except for one major problem. No profits for Big Pharma!

  • keto is great, but the industrial production of human insulin has saved many thousands of lives. implying the “old way” of treating diabetes was better is just disrespectful and ignorant.

  • This is just a dietary plan. This has nothing to do with medication and still similar to diet recommendations today

  • > Today it’s just “here take these drugs!”

    You must have zero experience with diabetics then… this is such a misleading post.

  • Gary Traubes mentions these two exact pages in his talk with Google.

  • We’ve known about diabetes for a long time, I want to say from as far back as the Romans. The symptom of sweet smelling/tasting urine iirc was what they noticed.

    It would be an interesting one to see if treatments like this go further back. /r/AskaHistorian has probably answered it at some point I suppose…

  • Sour Cream as a beverage?

  • [deleted]

  • Why don’t I see any hard liquor in the accepted section?

  • Ohh, I think I know that book. Was it written by a German lady? She uses a lot of almond flour in her recipies.

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