Local Pharmacists Highlight ‘Keto’ Diet for Diabetics

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HARLINGEN – Even though they’re in the business of selling drugs, two pharmacists in Harlingen are using a special diet to get their Type 2 diabetic patients off of insulin. They tell us it’s working.

“My goal is not to keep patients sick,” explained Dr. Michael Muniz of Muniz Rio Grande Pharmacy. “I want to get patients healthy again. That’s what health care is about right? Healthcare practitioner’s help patients get better back to a normal life.”

They’re not diabetic, but both Dr. Michael and his brother, Dr. Bobby Muniz, are on the ketogenic diet, or keto for short.

It’s a low carb, high-fat diet, different from the Atkins diet because it doesn’t involve as much protein.

The doctors tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS a large percentage of their patients are diabetic. 

“That’s across the (Rio Grande) Valley,” explained Bobby. “We have across the nation, probably one of the highest rates of diabetes in South Texas.”

They say while you can never get rid of diabetes, the ketogenic diet can help reduce the symptoms. They’re already seeing the changes in their patients.

“I have, I believe, 12 to 15 patients that came in that were diabetic that are down to just one medication,” said Michael.

He says those patients transitioned to the Keto diet.

So how does it work?

The Muniz's say you force your body into a state of “ketosis” where it starts using its own fat for fuel instead of using glucose, like sugar and carbohydrates for energy. They say this can lead to weight loss.

“We want to really come back to more of a whole food diet,” said Bobby.

He says you get there by eating a high amount of healthy fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, whole eggs; a medium amount of protein – fatty fish like salmon or chicken quarters are good – and very few carbohydrates.

The brothers say during ketosis, the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. Those ketones can decrease blood glucose levels and potentially change the way your body stores and uses energy-- which could ease your diabetic symptoms.

It takes anywhere from 14 to 21 days for your body to make the change in how it uses energy. Both of the doctors are on the diet.

Michael says in two years on the diet, he’s lost 85 pounds of fat. He says that transformation was inspiring to one of his diabetic patients.

“When he first came into the pharmacy he saw me and he goes ‘Man Mike, you look good. What did you do?’ and I go, "Diet. 80 percent is diet,'” Michael explained. “So he wanted to do what I was doing, how much it cost, so I gave him the price and he went home and talked to his wife.”

That patient ended up going for it, you can see his results. The patient did not want to go on camera but did speak to CHANNEL 5 NEWS privately about how the diet changed his life.

“He’s lost probably about 80 pounds. I think he’s probably lost more now,” said Michael. “And his insulins. We got him off of insulin in three months, actually, one of his rapid-acting insulins that he would take right before he ate. He was taking about 200 units and we were able to get him off of that within two weeks.”

They say keto is not only helping him save his body but his money too.

“We just looked at his drug spending last month and it was $150 dollars compared to $4,000 a month,” said Michael.

The doctors warn, while there are success stories, if you’re diabetic, you should talk to a healthcare professional before you make the switch.

“If you’re on medications it’s best to speak to a pharmacist that’s trained or even a doctor who is trained because you can hurt yourself,” said Michael. “Those medications, they're out there to help you but at the same time, we can help you even better.”

You can learn more about the doctors on their website and follow their Keto Facebook group.

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