Richard K. Bernstein, MD is a physician and an advocate for a low-carbohydrate diabetes diet to help achieve normal blood sugars for diabetics. Bernstein himself suffers from type 1 diabetes. His private medical practice in Mamaroneck, New York is devoted solely to diabetes and prediabetic conditions. He is a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, the American College of Endocrinology and The College of Certified Wound Specialists. He is the author of six books on diabetes and normalizing blood sugars.
In 1946, at the age of twelve, Richard Bernstein developed type 1 diabetes, and for more than two decades, Bernstein was what he calls, “an ordinary diabetic”—one who dutifully followed doctor’s orders. Despite his diligence coping with the disease, the complications from his diabetes worsened over the years, and like many diabetics in similar circumstances, he faced death at a very early age as well as poor quality of life. By the time Bernstein reached his thirties, many of his body’s systems began to deteriorate.
Discovery of the blood sugar meterEdit
In October 1969, Bernstein came across an advertisement in the trade journal Lab World. It was for the first blood glucose meter that would give a reading in 1 minute, using a single drop of blood. The device was intended for emergency staff at hospitals to distinguish unconscious diabetics from unconscious drunks. The instrument weighed three pounds, cost $650, and was only available to certified physicians and hospitals. Determined to take control of his situation, Bernstein asked his wife, a doctor, to order the instrument for him.
Bernstein began to measure his blood sugar about 5 times each day, and soon realized that the levels fluctuated wildly throughout the day. To even out his blood sugars, he adjusted his insulin regimen from one injection per day to two, and experimented with his diet, notably by reducing his consumption of carbohydrates. Three years after Bernstein began monitoring his own blood sugar levels, his complications were still progressing and he began researching scientific articles about the disease. He discovered several studies on animals suggesting that complications from diabetes could be prevented, and even reversed, by normalizing blood sugars. This is in contrast to the then extant treatment of diabetes which focused on low-fat, high carbohydrate diets and on preventing hypoglycemia, and ketoacidosis.
Bernstein set out to achieve normal blood sugars, and within a year had refined his insulin and diet to the point that they were normal throughout the day. After years of chronic fatigue and complications, Bernstein felt healthy and energized. His serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels were now in the normal ranges, and friends commented that his complexion was no longer gray. He is believed to be the first individual to self-monitor his blood sugar and was an early advocate for such monitoring by diabetics.
Bernstein believed that the same technique could be used to assist diabetics whose quality of life could vastly improve if they followed a similar lifestyle. Despite his effectiveness in treating his own condition, as a layperson he had difficulty gaining the necessary attention of the medical field to change the standard treatment of diabetics. Bernstein wrote a paper describing his technique and attempted to get it published in many major medical journals, but none would accept it, in part because he was not an MD In 1977, he decided to give up his job and become a physician—"I couldn’t beat ‘em, so I had to join ‘em."
In 2008, at 74 years of age, Bernstein has surpassed the life expectancy of type 1 diabetics. He attributes his longevity to the low-carbohydrate dietary approach and lifestyle changes he developed for diabetics. As of 2006, Bernstein had an HDL cholesterol of 118, LDL of 53, Triglycerides of 45, and average blood sugar of 83mg/dl. 
Low-carbohydrate diabetes diet and treatment planEdit
Dr Bernstein's program for treating diabetes is highly regarded amongst his patients and achieves great blood sugar control, which reduces some or all of the complications associated with diabetes. The tradeoff is compliance with a very restricted diet and in many cases, frequent testing and insulin shots. Dr Berstein strongly opposes the dietary guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for both type I and type II diabetics.
Some of the highlights of his treatment program include:
- A very low carb diet to allow much tighter blood sugar control.
- Diet allows 6 grams of carbohydrates for breakfast, and 12 grams each for lunch and dinner.
- Avoiding all foods with added sugar, all foods with starches, all fruits.
- Blood glucose testing up to 8 times per day.
- Target blood glucose levels that are nearly constant for the entire day.
- Weight loss for obese type 2s.
- Exercise for all type 2s.
- Basal and bolus dosing for insulin users, a technique that he invented in 1972.
- The patient takes responsibility for blood sugar control.
Dr. Bernstein conducts a monthly teleconference wherein he answers questions from listeners. This is accessible at askdrbernstein.com. He is director Emeritus of the Peripheral Vascular Disease Clinic of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center.
- Template:Cite book ISBN 978-0316167161
- Template:Cite book ISBN 978-0316737845
- Template:Cite book
- Template:Cite book
- Richard K. Bernstein's home page, retrieved March 18, 2007.