Diane Williams

Diane Williams, M.D., of Pinehurst Medical Clinic

It’s not a diet clinic, but sustained weight loss and improved overall health are the expected outcomes for folks enrolled in the new Healcare Clinic sponsored through the Pinehurst Medical Clinic.

Established locally by gastroenterologist Dr. Diane Williams, the program provides a personalized and medically supervised approach to a low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle. The goal is to use the “food as medicine” concept to eliminate obesity, and put pre-diabetic and Type 2 diabetic patients into permanent remission.

“Our country is in a crisis. Heart disease is rising and we have an epidemic of chronic illnesses and disease,” Williams said. “And where this all began was Dwight Eisenhower.”

Back in the 1950s, the then-U.S. president had a heart attack, which put heart disease on the radar screen for a lot of people. Thirty years later, the federal government began recommending a low-fat diet.

“Fast forward to now and how has that worked out for us? It’s been a disaster. People today are 30 pounds heavier, on average, then they were in 1980.”

At that time, a British physiologist had cautioned that sugar is the real culprit, “but no one listened. So that train left the station and it’s been hard to turn it around,” she added.

The simplest way to look at the problem is to consider how people ate before the 1980s. Fresh vegetables and meats were the norm.

What we eat in terms of macronutrients — fats, carbohydrates and protein — programs our bodies to either burn fat or store fat. Carbohydrates are meant for energy; however, if you eat more than you expend, your body will store the surplus for later.

Today’s grocery stores are filled with processed products. And approximately 80 percent of these foods have added sugar.

“Doctors advise their patients to eat less and exercise more, a recommendation that often doesn’t work because people are always hungry on a high-carb diet,” Williams said. “If you are shopping and the product is listed as lite or diet or low fat, don’t buy it.

“Think about duck foie gras. They make duck livers fat by feeding them carbohydrates. And today in America, fatty liver disease is endemic,” Williams said, noting that a recent study by UNC Chapel Hill found that only 12 percent of Americans are metabolically healthy.

After attending a conference a year-and-a-half ago, where she learned more about low-carb, healthy fat diets, Williams said she began incorporating the practice at home, eventually encouraging her fellow staff members to do the same, and finally advising her patients to give it a try.

“Diet to me feels like deprivation, but this is not deprivation,” she said. “Fat is what satiates you and makes you feel full. When you incorporate healthy fats in your diet, you feel full and quit eating as much.”

More importantly she discovered that many of her patients suffering from irritable bowel disease saw their symptoms improve after they went on a low-carb diet.

“When they change their diet, their gut issues get better,” Williams said. “This is not fancy products, it is real food. But what we are seeing is people who have their medications reduced, or in some cases eliminated altogether, when they change their diet.”

She recommends the concept of shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. Instead of processed foods, buy lots of fresh produce and fresh meats.

“These are real foods and it is a sustainable choice.”

The Healcare program is modeled after the successful “keto treatment” developed by Duke University's Dr. Eric Westman and nurse Jacqueline Eberstein. The program integrates one-on-one personalized keto dietary and nutrition coaching, group behavioral coaching, and medical care if needed. 

For people suffering from chronic illness or who want a helping hand to manage a low-carb diet with medical supervision, contact the Healcare Clinic at Pinehurst Medical Clinic.

The program begins with a five-minute online initial health assessment and, once enrolled, patients pay a fixed monthly fee that is determined by their individual health status.

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