Background

Over 100 people attended this event, which was planned to help those with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) understand that, contrary to the advice given by most health professionals, this disease can be controlled (possibly even cured) by making simple changes to the diet. There is now overwhelming evidence, not to mention the case histories of thousands of individuals, that this can be achieved very effectively by restricting the consumption of sugar and other starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. The fundamental issue is that this is in direct conflict with the official advice from the NHS, which states that:

The important thing in managing diabetes through your diet is to eat regularly and include starchy carbohydrates, such as pasta, as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables. If your diet is well balanced, you should be able to achieve a good level of health and maintain a healthy weight.”

Introducing the talks, the organiser, Verner Wheelock, stated that the present position is a national disgrace. It is a scandal that patients are being given advice which is clearly not working and usually makes them worse. It is highly significant that the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity started to increase in the 1980s, when the advice to reduce dietary fat was first introduced. This was actively promoted by the food industry with a wide range of “low fat” products appearing on the market. Unfortunately as the fat was reduced there was a corresponding increase in the consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. We are still stuck with these guidelines, which are regarded as gospel by many health professionals.

Dr. David Unwin

Dr. Unwin, the first speaker, is a GP in Southport, where he is having incredible success with patients, who suffer from obesity and diabetes. His impact can be measured by the fact that he has reduced the cost of drugs prescribed by the practice by £45,000 per annum. A few years ago he almost gave up medicine because he felt that he was not genuinely helping his patients. Thirty years ago, there were 57 diabetics in the practice. Today there are 600 and 21 of them are under 50 years old. Then he discovered the evidence, which demonstrated that T2D can be controlled effectively by cutting down the sugar and carbohydrates. Because the carbohydrates (mainly starch) are broken down to simple sugars, these contribute to the sugar load in the blood, which is effectively T2D.

Dr. Unwin gave some examples of the success his patients have had simply by reducing the consumption of sugar and starchy foods. In one case, the patient had succeeded in getting the blood sugar down from the diabetic to the normal range in 38 days. He was able to stop all drugs as a result. In other words, he was effectively cured.

Dr. Unwin’s approach is one of “informed choice”. He spells out the options, including the use of drugs. However in practice, everyone chooses to try the dietary approach. He has a panel of 50 volunteers, which has shown that this works very well. The members have all lost weight, on average about 8.5 kg.

In order to help his patients, Dr Unwin has worked out the amount of sugar, expressed as teaspoons, produced by a portion of different foods. Some examples include:

Basmati rice, 10.1

Boiled potato, 9.1

Boiled spaghetti, 6.6

Broccolli, 0.2

Eggs, 0

From this it can be seen that some of the foods which are regarded as “healthy” have lots of sugar and are therefore a significant cause of diabetes.

Dr. Trudi Deakin

The second speaker, Dr. Deakin is a dietitian with a Ph. D. She has consistently advocated Low Carb as part of a strategy for controlling diabetes and has not been afraid to challenge the conventional view. She is based in Hebden Bridge and her registered charity, X-PERT Health, produces training programmes, which are now being used by many different NHS Trusts.

She has had tremendous success with individual patients who have suffered from T2D and obesity. It was fascinating to discover that the average weight loss her patients achieved was almost exactly the same as Dr. Unwin’s patients. The main focus of her talk was the official Eatwell Plate, which is promoted by Public Health England. In particular, she focussed on the advice that:

“Starchy foods should make up just over one third of everything we eat. This means we should base our meals on these foods.”

In a devastating critique, Dr Deakin explained in detail how many people who do just that, will end up with a sugar load that will result in Type 2 Diabetes. A typical breakfast based on cereal, milk, toast and marmalade is simply an absolute disaster.

Marika Sboros

The final speaker, Marika Sboros is a journalist who lives in South Africa but spends quite a bit of time in London. The battle for a logical, scientifically based approach to nutrition policies is not restricted to the UK. The establishment all over the world is using every trick in the book to prevent the information presented at the meeting from being disseminated. Many of those who are telling people exactly the same, have been attacked and vilified. In South Africa, Professor Tim Noakes has been charged with professional misconduct. Marika has followed the process very carefully and provided a world-wide audience with ball-by-ball commentary through her Tweets.

Marika Sboros explained that the accusation against Prof Noakes, a top-rated medically qualified scientist, was initiated by a complaint from the president of the dietitians association in South Africa at the time. The charge was based on two tweets, in which he told a breastfeeding mother that good first foods for infant feeding are low carb and high fat, which is basically meat and vegetables.

Prof Noakes had developed T2D and in order to understand the cause had explored the research and realised that his diet, which complied with the official recommendations (and are essentially the same as in the UK) was probably the cause. He switched to a low carb diet: very quickly he recovered good health and he lost weight. Even more remarkable, his performance as a long distance runner, which had been deteriorating, improved.

As a sports scientist, Professor Noakes had advocated carbohydrate-loading for athletes. But in the light of his own personal experience and his re-assessment of the research, he admitted publicly that in the past he had been wrong about the dietary guidelines. The way forward was to focus on a diet which was LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat). Then all hell broke loose. He was attacked by many of his colleagues in academia, culminating in the “trial”. So far there have been two hearings both of which lasted about a week. There will be a third in October, which is likely to be the concluding session. Marika described how the case against Prof Noakes has been an absolute shambles. The legal team supporting him (acting pro bono) has torn it to shreds. By contrast, Prof Noakes has constructed a compelling rebuttal, which provides a powerful comprehensive justification for an LCHF diet based on sound scientific research. If there is any justice, then he should be completely vindicated by the verdict.

Comments from attendees

Kathryn Taylor, Skipton:

“I attended because I have a personal interest in nutrition (I follow an anti-cancer diet), as well as a friend who has T2D.  I came along with a pal who is a practice nurse –she left inspired.

Top slot for me was Dr Unwin: he was an inspirational communicator and clearly a pioneering practitioner with a passion for healthcare and people.  He was not in the least bit patronising.

I’d loved to have heard much more from him, and about his message.   If you run the half day again, my request would be much more from him

Marika’s talk was fascinating to me, as a lawyer (process, injustice etc)”

 Fiona Benson, York:

 “The event was BRILLIANT and thank you so much for organising.  My husband and I have had a long interest in LCHF and we reversed my husband’s diagnosis following the LCHF lifestyle.  We have followed the LCHF lifestyle since reading Dr Atkins book back in 2003.  We have watched how industry (big food and big pharma) continues to dominate decisions and government guidelines and the appalling barriers in place to those professionals wishing to go against those guidelines.    We have also learnt how doctors have virtually no nutritional training as part of their training – they are taught how to identify symptoms and treat with drugs – no money in curing patients. 

The current medical model, as we all know, is at breaking point and privatising the NHS is not the way to resolve the issues. 

I have long heard of Dr Unwin’s work and was delighted that he was speaking close by enabling us to attend and at a very affordable price.”

Frank Kuhne, Bingley

“Members of my family have diabetes, so I have been closely aware of the misery it can cause over many years of a diabetic’s life.  It may have killed my mother early. Associated complications may be killing my brother early, too.

Meantimes, I have become steadily aware of the mountain of very high quality, scientific evidence showing that much suffering can be avoided and/or health regained. The utter shame is that some of this prime evidence has been available for decades; but it has not been acted upon with the urgency it deserves. Is this part of the “Flat Earth” syndrome?

I attended in order to learn more from the knowledge and experience of professional speakers and practitioners, who are tackling a neglect of prevention-and-reversal of diabetes assertively….

The meeting delivered all that I wanted of it….

The approach to the treatment of diabetes within the existing conventional wisdom, or according to the long-established status quo, seems to be one of treating the symptoms of the disease, rather than emphasising and tackling avoidance + cure. (As with cancer?)

I was glad to add my name to the list of others who might like to follow up the meeting.

The low-carb lunch was a fine idea.”

Joshua Fear, Cheadle:

Having worked in Specialist Weight Management and now as a Personal Trainer in the South Manchester Area, I have come into contact with numerous clients who have developed ‘Sugar Diabetes’. The increasing prevalence of this condition is concerning for people living with the disease and health professional alike. The good news is we have a surprisingly straightforward way of combating the rise. Driven forward by Doctors, Dietitians and a forward-thinking Journalist, the recent ‘Diet and Diabetes’ event in Skipton was a revelation for over 60 diabetics, health professionals and carers. Over the course of 3 hours, conventional thinking (and eating) was challenged, dietary guidelines exposed and an old-school ‘meat and two veg’ approach adopted. An invaluable and enlightening event delivered by world-class speakers that empowered everyone who attended.”

Susan Morris, Blackburn:

“I found the “Diet & Diabetes” seminar very interesting. It really does make you consider the benefits of a low carb diet.  As diabetes is on the increase this must be considered as a good option in helping reduce this terrible epidemic. I will personally be changing my diet and I think that an awareness campaign should be introduced nationally”.

 Dr Lisa Gatenby, Registered Nutritionist, Leeds:

“I attended the day as it’s important to keep up to date with research and what is happening in practice. Diabetes is such an increasing condition and we need to find better ways to deal with it, helping people to make changes to their dietary habits and helping them to really understand the condition can have a significant effect.  

It’s great to see some specific wording in the NICE recommendations to allow people to be given choice and information on Low Carbohydrate Diets and I think we need to make sure practice reflects the guidance.”

Deborah Thackeray, Skipton:

“I was delighted to attend the Diabetes Event at the Rendezvous Hotel in Skipton last Saturday. I have a Nutritional Therapy practice in the town, and I am seeing increasing numbers of people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. It was really interesting to hear diverse speakers talking about this entirely preventable and reversible health condition, with lots of good tips both for practitioners such as myself but also for the public. There was a strong sense that something needed to change. The focus was on food which chimed entirely with my practice. I work with people to help them feel better using food. I would definitely attend another event”.

Colin Faulkner, Colne

“Saturday was great – Dr Unwin’s presentation was inspiring, can’t wait for him to get the OK to release more helpful information on ‘teaspoons of sugar’ equivalents chart etc. can’t understand why more GP’s aren’t motivated to follow his lead – mine included…..”

Final reflections

I decided to organise this meeting because of the total failure of the national policy on T2D, which is an absolute scandal. The disease is effectively out of control. Millions of people are suffering. The usual treatment is not only ineffective but is making the condition worse. As a consequence, the quality of life deteriorates to such an extent that patients become blind and may have limbs amputated. If that is not enough, those with T2D have an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. There is overwhelming evidence that the primary cause of the disease is the excessive consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. There is reliable research and hundreds of case histories, which confirm that T2D can be successfully controlled (possibly even cured) by switching to a diet which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat.

Colin Faulkner was one of the attendees at the “Diet and Diabetes” event. Here is his story:

“I’m 62, retired and have been diagnosed as diabetic since 2002, but was probably suffering for many years before that.

I’ve never been overweight BMI (Bloody Minded Index) in low 20’s and have always been physically active, so diabetes is not just about being overweight…..

For the past 15 years I’ve progressed from diet only treatment to latterly maxing out on tablet medication – my GP classed my blood sugar control as excellent – even though I was always nudging the upper limits, upping the tablets and increasing my exercise regime accordingly.

Until March 2014 when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, subsequent operations sorted that, but left me completely debilitated, constantly having to take antibiotics to try and ‘cure’ Urinary Tract Infections.

By October 2015 I was desperate, nothing worked, my daily Blood Glucose readings were way out of range, so I consulted my GP and an Airedale Diabetic consultant.

Their only solution was for me to start on Insulin.

So independent of them I started researching LCHF diets and despite being warned off I started that after Christmas 2015.

Prior to starting (October 2015) my HbA1c was 57mmol/mol, my last result June 2016 was 37 after cutting my diabetic meds from 8/day to 2/day, stopping blood pressure and cholesterol (currently 5.5) tabs.

Also 3 weeks after starting on LCHF the UTI’s stopped.

Note: HbA1c is a measure of the blood glucose over the past 3 months.

It will be evident from this, that the conventional treatment was going nowhere and that the recovery only commenced when Colin took control for himself. The real scandal is that for every person who does this, there are hundreds more who soldier on getting progressively worse.

 

I have made representations to the Government. In particular, I pointed out that:

“Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) can be controlled and in many people actually cured. This is done by removing the cause which is excessive consumption of sugar and carbohydrates, which result in so much glucose in the blood that the body is unable to cope. Unfortunately the official dietary recommendations are in direct conflict with this strategy which includes:

  • ‘’Starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, cereals, rice, pasta should make up about one third of the food you eat’’.

 

The reply from Jane Ellison, the Minister at the time, contained the following:

“Preventing diabetes and promoting the best possible care for people with diabetes is of great concern to the Government. The NHS Five Year Forward View set out a commitment to implement the National Diabetes Prevention Programme to provide lifestyle programmes to pre-diabetic patients in order to reduce the risk of their developing diabetes. The Department is also building on the Diabetes Prevention Programme to improve the outcomes of people with and at risk of diabetes and will put forward our plans in due course.”

In other words she is telling me to “get lost” and there was not the slightest attempt to deal with the points which I made. Had she been doing her job properly (and an effective politician) she would instructed her civil servants to explain why the proposals I had put forward were faulty. In effect she just ignored my arguments.

Unfortunately this Prevention Programme is based on the same old discredited approach which has failed so miserably in the past. So the reality is that as long as this remains the cornerstone of the strategy there will be no progress and things will continue to get worse. It is unbelievable that there is a complete inability to accept that the policy is a total disaster. Imagine the outcry if bridges collapsed or aeroplanes crashed regularly. Yet this is exactly what is happening with diabetes. The professionals seem to be able to avoid responsibility for their own failures and even worse blame the unfortunate patients.

In the light of this, it is obviously pointless to attempt to get any change at government level and so I have decided that I will focus my efforts on the grassroots, which is the rationale for the event at The Rendezvous.

My objectives were to:

  • Make the information about the benefits of a Low Carb diet available to many people who currently are being treated conventionally with drugs;
  • Encourage other to become actively involved in other initiatives to spread the information far and wide;
  • Ultimately build up pressure from the public generally and within the healthcare professions so that the Government is forced to abandon the existing discredited policies.

Business support

So far, I am delighted with the response. Prior to the event, many local companies provided help and support, for which I am extremely grateful. These include:

Broughton Hall Business Park

Craven Energies

Keelham Farm Shop

Wilman & Wilman

Pearson & Associates

Tempest Arms

Verner Wheelock Associates

Hannah Sutter who runs The Natural Low Carb Store personally attended and brought lots of suitable food products for the lunch and has provided support in a variety of different ways.

However, there has to be special mention for Malcolm Weaving and his staff at The Rendezvous for providing accommodation for the speakers and for the event. On top of all this, the Low Carb lunch was superb and demonstrated conclusively that it is possible to produce wonderful dishes without lots of carbohydrates. The chef, Stuart Benson did a great job and spent some time chatting to people and answering questions about how he prepared the items on the menu.

Conclusion

It was very encouraging that there was such a good attendance. Some had travelled quite a distance, coming from as far as Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire, Tees Side, Cambridgeshire, Liverpool, Manchester and Derbyshire.

I hope that we can push on from here and that there will be plenty of ideas and suggestions to help spread the word. I would like to think that “Diet and Diabetes” on Saturday will act as the spring-board for many other activities. There is considerable interest in establishing a Lunch Club based at The Rendezvous and I look forward to hearing from anyone who is interesting in further initiatives.

I can be contacted by email: verner.wheelock@vwa.co.uk