Failure of public health policy
Despite repeated attempts to persuade the politicians, the leaders of the mainstream medical and healthcare professions to accept that the current diabetes policy is a complete failure, there are no positive signs of any movement. The same old strategies that clearly do not work continue to be implemented. Consequently patients are given the wrong advice, which invariably causes the condition to deteriorate. This means a very poor quality of life, a reduction in life expectancy and for some unfortunates, loss of sight and/or amputations of limbs.
We must tackle this issue at the grassroots
As I explained in the previous blog, if we are to make progress it will have to be through initiatives at the grassroots. If more people appreciate the definite benefits to health that can be achieved by consuming a diet low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats (LCHF) this would be a significant step forward. In particular those with both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes (T1D, T2D) would be able to control these diseases. For those who are apparently healthy the LCHF diet would help to prevent T2D and many other common chronic diseases. As more and more discover the advantages, the word will spread and pressure for political action will build up.
The Skipton course
Following the successful “Diet and Diabetes” event held in Skipton in September 2016, we decided to organise a training course to help people who had been diagnosed with T2D. Malcolm Weaving provided a room in The Rendezvous Hotel. Keith Rathbone, a design engineer who had successfully coped with his own T2D, agreed to present the course. This was based on the X-PERT Diabetes Low Carb pilot programme, which is a nutritionally complete diet guide compiled by dietitian Dr Trudi Deakin (CEO of X-PERT Health). The training course was made possible by financial support from Hannah Sutter of the Low Carb Natural Store, who also attended two of the sessions to support with various ideas for meal planning. We are also grateful to her staff Amanda and Leoni who attended the other sessions.
Eleven who had diabetes or pre-diabetes (plus 3 others who were carers or at risk) were recruited. A couple dropped out for various reasons leaving a hard core of 12. There was an introductory meeting, which set out the aims and objectives. This was followed by six weekly sessions, which finished at the beginning of March 2017.
Although there were a few who were familiar with LCHF and had experienced positive results, many had been through the NHS with little success and were confused about how diabetes should be treated and controlled.
Monitoring blood glucose (BG)
A key aspect of the course was that everyone had access to equipment that enabled them to measure their BG. Keith was absolutely convinced that this was crucial to understanding what happened when different foods and food combinations were consumed. In particular, they discovered the high BG levels that are recorded following the consumption of the starchy carbohydrates recommended as standard practice in the NHS. By contrast, it soon became clear when the carbohydrate intake is low, the BG increase is much less.
Sampling time does matter and why the NHS fails
It soon became clear that it is essential to measure the BG about one hour after a meal has been consumed. Unfortunately many patients in the UK are not advised on the benefit of Low Carb diets or provided with meters until their BG levels have deteriorated and become out of control. Additionally the NHS does not advise patients to measure their BG levels at one hour after a meal, (when they are most likely to be at the high point) unless they are pregnant. This means that many NHS patients are lulled into a false sense of security because they are not made aware of how high their BGs can reach. Furthermore, the failure of the current advice to eat a LCHF diet will not be apparent. The same conclusion applies to the use of medication.
There is a very powerful case for the NHS to supply patients with BG monitors so that they can discover for themselves how to take control. Perhaps this is the real reason this approach is not widely used. Am I being too cynical???
There is absolutely no doubt that the training programme has been an outstanding success. The big problem faced by many of the participants was to discover reliable information on how to deal with diabetes. A common comment was “I don’t know who to believe”. Several had been treated by the NHS but had simply made no progress and if anything their condition had deteriorated. However this should come as no surprise because it is in line with what is stated on the NHS Choices website (1).
Several had worked out for themselves that an LCHF diet was the key to success and had already made considerable progress before the course started but provided great encouragement to other members. These included Colin Faulkner, whose experience is described in the previous blog. Michael Whitaker, who is T1D, had been to our event in September 2016 and with his wife Julie had learned and appreciated that a diet low in carbohydrates would mean he could reduce the insulin dose required. Here is how Julie describes what has happened since:
“Following diagnosis, and for the past 15 years, Michael and me (as I do the cooking!) have listened to the advice of Healthcare professionals and reduced our fat intake and eaten plenty of rice, pasta, bread and potatoes (as well as fruit and vegetables.) Michael always managed the high blood sugar level this diet produced by injecting high levels of insulin after each meal to bring it down. He see-sawed daily, often suffering hypo’s in the night and was hospitalised on two occasions with life-threatening ketoacidosis.
All this was before Sat 10th Sept when we both attended Verner Wheelock’s event at the Rendezvous Hotel with speakers Dr David Unwin and others. What a lifechanger this has turned out to be! Why did nobody tell us that prolonged use of insulin is harmful and that sugar in itself is poison! It’s simple enough advice to follow.
NHS staff have carried out their jobs to the best of their knowledge and Michael has received ‘enough’ care but the advice has been way off track.” (2)
In addition to Michael there were 5 with T2D. All of these made great progress as assessed by their BGs taken one hour after the completion of a meal. Some had results for glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), which reduced significantly. The two who were pre-diabetic successfully lowered their BGs to values that could be regarded as “normal”. All lost body weight of about 6Kg.
These results are compelling. There is nothing unique or unusual about them. For anyone familiar with the research and the numerous other successful case histories, it is just as expected. However the fact remains that the participants are all delighted with the results. They have experienced an improvement in their health (not to mention the weight loss) which had eluded them for years. The key elements were the quality of the information presented, the mutual support and the short time required for the response to the LCHF diet take effect. It is to be hoped that others will take inspiration from what has been achieved here and try out things for themselves.