No doubt you’re full of resolutions for what you want to achieve in the first few months of this new decade. Maybe you’ve decided to join the gym or master a new language. A lot can be achieved in a few short weeks, after all.
So what if I told you that by March – just eight weeks from now — you, or someone you love, could make a truly revolutionary change. For that is how long, I’ve conclusively discovered, it takes for someone to be rid of type 2 diabetes, reversing it potentially for ever.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. As I’ve witnessed during the course of my medical career, this is the epidemic of our times; a health crisis that puts an intolerable strain on the NHS, accounting for a massive 10 per cent of the entire health service budget, at the cost of more than £10 billion a year to the taxpayer.
According to the latest figures, 3.8 million are living with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and thousands more are pre-diabetic.
And, make no mistake, this is a truly gruesome illness, as I’ve seen first-hand many times since becoming a doctor in the Seventies.
Even if you try to muddle along at first, being more careful about what you eat and taking your pills diligently, type 2 diabetes is usually progressive — which means that it is only likely to worsen.
Amputations, blindness, nerve damage and excruciating pain in your legs and feet are all agonising consequences of this debilitating disease. With every passing year you are very likely to need more drugs to control worsening blood sugar swings, as well as enduring more pain. You may have to retire early and your life expectancy will certainly be shortened.
Whatever your age, a diabetes diagnosis doubles your risk of having a stroke and considerably ups your risk of heart attack.
I’m sorry if this all seems rather blunt, but you don’t want a doctor who hides the truth.
My journey to the discovery of how to reverse type 2 diabetes has been driven by the heartbreaking stories I’ve witnessed over the years.
Practising medicine as a hospital specialist means that I saw the most seriously affected. Meanwhile, my friends and colleagues in general practice see the whole range of damage that diabetes visits upon men and women — and their families.
Not just loss of mobility, sight and health, but the entire fallout of unemployment, family stresses and depression.
It’s the reason I so passionately believe those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes deserve a real choice: conventional ‘treatment’ or a chance to return to full health.
And it’s why I chose to work at the cutting edge of diabetes research, probing the precise causes for this complex, debilitating disease. Indeed, it was my groundbreaking work which Dr Michael Mosley famously used to successfully reverse his own diabetes diagnosis.
Now I’ve written a revolutionary new book, Life Without Diabetes, based on these decades of scientific discovery.
Serialised all next week in the Mail, it reveals the science behind the cause of diabetes, and guides you through an effective, three-stage weight-loss plan that could save your life and the life of anyone you know who is at risk of, or currently battling, this horrific disease.
And it really is as easy to follow as 1, 2, 3. Beginning with a short and super-effective diabetes-busting phase, where a simple liquid diet allows your body to begin reversing the root causes of the illness, stages two and three show you the delicious meals (from hearty haddock and prawn chowder to spicy harissa aubergines) you can incorporate into your diet to keep diabetes away and transform your health — potentially for ever.
Type 2 diabetes is characterised by too much sugar in the blood when the body is unable to produce enough of the hormone, insulin, which should control blood sugar levels, and cells throughout the body stop responding effectively to the insulin they do receive.
The disease is a true merchant of misery. One of the first patients I treated with type 2 diabetes was a man in his mid-40s with severe diabetic foot ulcers.
High blood sugar levels damage nerves and circulation and make terrible ulcers more likely.
So serious was this man’s condition that I was forced to battle to save his feet, all the while acutely aware that the months he spent in hospital meant agonising time spent away from family, away from work.
Then there was the 59-year-old lady I met in the coronary care unit. Until her heart attack struck, in the prime of life, her type 2 diabetes had seemed to be just a bit of inconvenience.
But this apparently fit lady had suffered one of the most sinister, silent complications of her diabetes — premature heart disease.
She required major surgery, then long-term drug treatment. Her outlook was profoundly changed by this shocking brush with death, and she undoubtedly led a less carefree life than she may have done.
Had we known then about the possibility of reversing type 2 diabetes, these two people may have been able to avoid these devastating problems and enjoy an active life way beyond retirement.
Watching my patients suffer spurred me to move into research, and since the Eighties I have worked both in research and as a consultant specialising in diabetes.
In 2006, I expanded my research, leading a multi million-pound project at Newcastle University, which brought together brilliant physicists with state-of-the-art scanners to create the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre.
My interest in this was to investigate the main organs involved with diabetes, the liver and pancreas, which jointly control your body’s management of insulin and glucose.
Thanks to these sophisticated scans, we found those with type 2 diabetes had a clear and consistent picture of excess fat in both the liver and the pancreas — far more than in people without diabetes even if overweight.
Our focus turned to investigating the possible links between the fat deposits in these organs and two apparently separate problems: the failure of the pancreas to make insulin normally and failure of the insulin to work properly.
Ask anyone what type 2 diabetes is, and they’ll tell you the disease is linked with too much sugar. And, yes, it’s true diabetes occurs when there’s excess glucose in the bloodstream. But our research has shown type 2 diabetes is actually caused by just one factor: too much fat in the liver and pancreas.
We were able to show that excess sugar in the blood is converted to fat, which is stored around the body, including in and around the organs. If this fat accumulation continues (if you eat too much and exercise too little), at some point you reach your own ‘personal fat threshold’ when fat in the liver and pancreas start to impede their ability to function effectively.
Normally, your liver will produce just the right amount of glucose that your body needs. But when there is excess fat in the liver, it will produce too much glucose and also pass excess fat to the pancreas.
As we saw on our scans, this excess fat then attacks the pancreas’s insulin-producing cells, leading to them malfunction. The result is type 2 diabetes. Anyone given a diabetes diagnosis was routinely advised to try to lose weight. Doctors have long known diabetes is linked with, and exacerbated by, being overweight.
However, it always seemed to be a rather half-hearted request, rarely backed up with support. And it was made so much harder by the fact many diabetes drugs have the side-effect of making people actually gain weight, instead of losing it. Then, in 2006, I had the epiphany that led me to understand the root cause of the disease.
I was flicking through a scientific journal when I spotted a graph which showed blood sugar levels plummeted in people with type 2 diabetes in the days immediately following bariatric surgery (an operation to reduce the size of the stomach).
On the graph, the line plunged from the usual high level on the day before surgery to absolutely normal by day seven. Normal blood sugar levels? In seven days? This was unheard of.
The study authors suggested the rapid change might be due to the effect of hormones made by the gut and impacted by the surgery.
But these hormones are typically activated by food, and could not be active in people undergoing stomach surgery who were ‘nil by mouth’ for seven days after the operation.
something else was clearly happening. When you stop eating for a few days, or go on a strict diet, your body will tap into the fat in your liver as a source of energy because it’s far easier to access and metabolise than the fat under your skin. Could this change have caused blood sugar levels to be normalised so rapidly?
Perhaps, I reasoned, this process was somehow reversing the insulin resistance of the liver cells in order to prompt a sudden return to normal function. But could the same process also be enough to prompt the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas back into action?
It seemed tantalisingly possible. We just needed to somehow test the theory and discover, through our scans, whether rapid weight loss could have a sufficiently swift impact on the function of the liver and pancreas to normalise previously uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
In 2011, we published the results of the groundbreaking study which replicated the dramatic reduction in calories immediately before and after bariatric surgery by putting people with type 2 diabetes on a low-calorie liquid diet. Diabetes UK had the foresight to fund this.
We asked everyone on the study to stop taking their diabetes tablets and the results were astounding. Within seven days, their blood sugar levels had dropped to normal — just like after bariatric surgery.
Incredibly, our tests on their liver and pancreas confirmed fat levels inside these organs had decreased and were beginning to function normally again.
To our amazement, we were able to say, with scientific proof, that the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes was reversible, through diet and adequate weight loss. It was a monumental finding.
Although a small number accepted the breakthrough, inevitably it was met by enormous scepticism from many experts. Regardless, we received a huge number of emails from people asking to follow our study to reverse their own diabetes. We had picked low-calorie meal replacement shakes as hunger is not a big problem and daily decisions were avoided on this diet. But they had also proved very practical, and many decided to try them for themselves.
As the months passed, we were inundated with amazing stories of how people — young and old, male and female, rich and poor, living in India, the U.S., South America, Europe or elsewhere — were achieving normal blood sugar levels and coming off their diabetes medication by trying what was being dubbed The Newcastle Diet.
That same year, I received a call from Dr Michael Mosley, who was very interested in our work. He was keen to see if he could follow our plan to reverse his own type 2 diabetes.
We worked together on his various TV programmes, and the publication of his 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet series, which has been enormously helpful in making my theories accessible to millions worldwide.
In the many research studies we have worked on in the nine years since, we have used the low-calorie meal replacement soups and shakes. The idea of them may be more associated with diet fads of the Eighties, but the need to follow this stage up with a controlled return to eating real food had been overlooked. Until now.
Stage one is the rapid weight loss phase — an eight to 12-week period using liquid meals as the basis to effectively reverse your diabetes. Stage two allows the gradual reintroduction of real meals while avoiding the return of blood sugar problems.
Finally, there’s stage three, a long-term plan of healthy eating, ensuring diabetes stays away, hopefully for ever.
Our many volunteers found the 1, 2, 3 eating plan nowhere near as difficult as they had feared.
Not only was their blood sugar transformed, most lost about 15 kg — about 2 st 5 lb — in just eight weeks and felt better than they had done for years.
We added a plate of non-starchy veg to stage one to compliment the shakes and soups, aware that some may miss having ‘something to chew’, as well as warding off any potential constipation.
Our research goes on. For now, though, we’re confident that this is the recipe for success for ridding oneself of type 2 diabetes, and changing your life for good.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Roy Taylor