I’ve just finished reading Roy Taylor’s book ‘Life Without Diabetes,’ and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Dr Taylor is a professor at Newcastle University, and he has arguably done more for diabetes remission than anyone. His studies, including DIRECT, proved to the world that a 3-month restricted-calorie diet can put 50% of people with diabetes into remission. Given that before his work, diabetes was considered incurable and progressive, it’s excellent news.
“…if blood glucose is returned to normal, then the risk of damage to eyes, nerves, feet, kidneys, heart, and brain returns to the same level as for people of similar age and weight without diabetes. From the point of view of the person staring down the barrel of a gun, that is a miracle.”
While I had read articles mentioning the 50% remission number, averages can be misleading. In the book, Dr Taylor writes that almost everyone can achieve remission within 4 years of diagnosis, 50% after 10 years, and it gets progressively more difficult from there. Almost everyone?!? In my opinion, that kind of success rate makes any doctor or diabetic nurse that doesn’t try remission with newly diagnosed patients borderline negligent.
Here are a few things in the book that caught my attention:
1. He writes that while diabetes is characterised by too much glucose in the bloodstream, it is caused by a single factor: excess fat in the liver and pancreas.
2. He believes that everyone has a personal fat threshold, that varies from person to person, the point at which the organs are likely to become fatty. If you have been diagnosed with T2 diabetes, you have passed that threshold. For some people, the threshold might be very low (50% of people diagnosed with diabetes are not obese), for others very high.
3. He writes that we gain slowly weight over a lifetime of eating too much. The topping point is reached as our liver starts to become fatty and insulin resistant. If our pancreas is sensitive to fat, it stops producing enough insulin, and our blood glucose shoots up.
4. A quick loss of weight – 15KG on average – is often enough to put diabetes into remission.
5. To achieve remission, Dr Taylor uses a calorie-restricted diet (700-800 calories per day), for 2-3 months. It includes a shake and a portion of vegetables for fibre. He says patients feel hunger for the first 36 hours, and then it diminishes.
6. Regular meals that total 700 calories a day can achieve the same result, but it can be more challenging in terms of planning, balance, and not being tempted into overeating.
7. Once the weight is off and remission is achieved, he reintroduces food, minimising sugar and high much starch. Weight becomes the metric. If it creeps up, he reintroduces the 700 calorie diet until it stabilises.
8. Dr Taylor views alcohol as ‘liquid fat’ as well as having too many calories, and he suggests cutting it out or curtailing it severely.
9. There is no good biological reason people put on weight during an adult life. There is no biological reason you shouldn’t be the weight you were at 25.
10. He says that different diets and methods work for different people. For some, low carb works better, for others fasting is the way to go. The key is weight loss (rapid seems to work better) and keeping it off.