A few weeks ago, I rang a patient to congratulate him as the latest in my care (the 66th!) who’s reversed type 2 diabetes and come off diabetes medication by going low-carb. It was a joyous moment for him — and for me.
That patient is Roy Almond, who tells his story on the opposite page.
For a long time I’d believed that treating type 2 diabetes was at best about trying to manage the condition, mainly with lifelong medication. Now I know it can be reversed or, perhaps more properly, put into drug-free remission, as I’ve seen from the astonishing results in my own Merseyside NHS practice.
In this new exclusive series for the Mail, I’ll explain how going low-carb could help you, too — and not just with type 2, for it may also help other conditions such as high blood pressure or swollen ankles.
I’ll show you how much starchy carbs such as potato and bread can affect your blood sugar levels, with some eye-opening charts I’ve produced. These have now been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the government’s healthcare watchdog, as a useful resource for people with type 2 (one chart is in today’s Weekend magazine).
All this will be combined with delicious autumn, low-carb recipes from Katie Caldesi to help you get started.
Until I came across the low-carb approach, like so many GPs across the country, I despaired about the apparently unstoppable tide of obesity and type 2. By 2012, my GP practice had seen a horrifying eight-fold increase in patients with diabetes since I’d started as a young partner in 1986.
This was matched by other worrying trends in obesity and high blood pressure.
Then came my Eureka moment — as readers will recall from my low-carb series in the Mail earlier this year: one day a patient walked in, having lost stones in weight and come off her type 2 diabetes medication.
To my amazement, blood tests confirmed that after 12 years with type 2, her condition was in remission! In 26 years as a GP, I’d never seen type 2 diabetes reversed, enabling a patient to be come medication free.
She’d done it by going low-carb. Using the lessons this trailblazing patient had learned, I’ve introduced low-carb as an option for my patients — with advice and support groups, as well as cooking events — and remission from type 2 is something I see frequently.
So how does low-carb help? Essentially, people with type 2 have a problem dealing with sugar. Our bodies respond to a sugary meal by producing the hormone insulin, which pushes the extra sugar into muscle cells for energy.
Excess sugar is also pushed into belly fat and the liver. This can result in weight gain and the insulin the body produces becoming less effective. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood, over time damaging small blood vessels in vital organs, such as the kidneys, eyes and even the heart.
So it makes sense to avoid sugar. Yet many people don’t understand is that this isn’t just about sugar in your tea, or biscuits — it includes starchy carbohydrates such as pasta and bread, which are broken down by digestion into surprising amounts of glucose.
For example, a 30g slice of wholemeal bread affects blood sugar to the same extent as three teaspoons of sugar. It has other benefits, such as B vitamins and fibre, but if you have type 2 diabetes, the sugar effect is very important.
A common misconception is that we need sugar for energy. I used to think this, too, but for six years I’ve been low-carb, yet I can still run for several miles, despite being over 60.
In fact, being low-carb has given me more energy. This is because we are designed to burn two fuels; either glucose or fat. If you’re not using sugar as a fuel — which is what happens if you go low-carb — this forces the body to become a fat burner.
As well as helping with type 2, this has other advantages such as weight loss. In a recently published trial, involving 150 of my patients, they lost an average 19lb (9kg) and their blood pressure also significantly improved.
I’ll go into that in more detail next week.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Dr. David Unwin