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Richard K. Bernstein

Richard K. Bernstein, M.D. is a physician and an advocate for "normal blood sugars" through tight blood sugar control for diabetics to reduce risks and complications. 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 and of the American College of Endocrinology and is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Wound Management. He is the author of four books on diabetes and normalizing blood sugars.



Early life

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 with maintaining 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.[1]

Discovery of the blood sugar meter

In October 1969, Bernstein came across an advertisement in the trade journal Lab World. It was for a new blood sugar 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 an unconscious diabetic and an unconscious drunk. 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 significantly 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 that complications from diabetes had repeatedly been prevented, and even reversed, in animals through normalizing blood sugars. This is in contrast to the then extant treatment of diabetes which focused on low-fat diets, 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.[1]

Medical school

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 the its 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[1] In 1977, he decided to give up his job and become a physician—"I couldn’t beat ‘em, so I had to join ‘em."

At 45 years old, Richard Bernstein entered the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In 1983 he opened his own medical practice near his home in Mamaroneck, New York.

In 2007, at 72 years of age, Bernstein has surpassed the life expectancy of type 1 diabetics at the time of his diagnosis. 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 sugars of 83.[2]

Bernstein's Treatment Plan

Dr Bernstein's program for treating diabetes is controversial,[citation needed] but highly regarded amongst his patients and achieves great blood sugar control, which reduces some or most of the complications associated with diabetes. The tradeoff is compliance with a very restricted diet and in cases of poor control, 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:[1]

  • 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 IIs
  • Exercise for all type IIs
  • Patient taking responsibility for blood sugar control


  • Bernstein, Richard K. (March 22, 2007). Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars (Hardcover). Little, Brown & Company. 
  • Bernstein, Richard K. ((November 1990)). Diabetes Type II: Living a Long, Healthy Life Through Blood Sugar Normalization. Prentice Hall Trade; 1st ed. edition. 
  • Bernstein, Richard K. (January 3, 2005). The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein's Low-Carbohydrate Solution. Little, Brown & Company. 
  • Bernstein, Richard K. (February 1, 1984). Diabetes: The GlucograF Method for Normalizing Blood Sugar. Crown. 
  1. ^ a b c d Bernstein, Richard. Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: My Life with Diabetes. Retrieved on 2007-06-04.  Selected chapters available on-line.
  2. ^ Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution, page 113.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Richard_K._Bernstein". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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