You CAN eat to beat diabetes – so why isn’t the NHS telling you how? The man behind the revolutionary 5:2 diet reveals exactly what should be on YOUR plate
- Doctors aren’t taught about nutrition and exercise, says TV doctor Mosley
- While UK is in grip of ‘major health crisis’ of ever-rising blood sugar levels
- More than four million people now have type 2 diabetes linked to being fat
- Dr Mosley says he reversed his own diabetes and lost 22lb four years ago
When I went to medical school, I learnt lots about anatomy, biochemistry and physiology, but next to nothing about nutrition or exercise.
As American holistic health guru Dr Andrew Weil pointed out at a recent meeting of the Royal Society of Medicine: ‘Health professionals should be able to inform patients about the benefit of food, but they can’t because they are not taught the basics.’
And this is happening against a backdrop of one of the greatest health crises of our age: ever-rising blood sugar levels. In the UK, more than four million people now have type 2 diabetes, the sort that’s usually linked to being overweight.
The UK is in a grip of a ‘major health crisis’ of ever-rising blood sugar levels
Four years ago I lost 22 lb, reversed my own diabetes and, based on research by one of the world’s leading diabetes experts, have now written a book showing how others can do likewise. The key to tackling this problem is rapid weight loss, but it is also about eating the right foods. Yet there is huge confusion even in the medical community about what those foods are.
So, if you are overweight, type 2 diabetic, prediabetic, or simply curious, here are the things you should know… but your doctor is unlikely to tell you:
I have devised my own ‘Eat Better’ plate, which shows roughly what you should be eating and in what proportions while on a low-carb Med diet
1. Low fat diets don’t work
Nutrition researchers at Harvard School of Public Health recently wrote: ‘While low-fat was once the diet du jour, subsequent research has shown that low-fat diets are ineffective and eating healthy fats is beneficial.’
They point out that a big fall in fat consumption in the US over the past few decades (down from 45 per cent of a typical diet to 33 per cent) was followed not by a fall, but by a dramatic rise in rates of obesity and diabetes.
One of the largest and most expensive dietary trials ever conducted, the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial also failed to show any benefit from going on a low-fat diet.
In this study, 49,000 women were randomly assigned to either a low-fat diet or continuing as usual.
The women allocated to the low- fat diet received lots of dietary support and managed to slash their fat consumption.
One of the best diets for overall health, a Mediterranean-style diet, is relatively high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It includes not only lots of oily fish, olive oil and nuts, but also wine and dark chocolate
2. Healthy diets can be high in fat
One of the best diets for overall health, a Mediterranean-style diet, is relatively high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It includes not only lots of oily fish, olive oil and nuts, but also wine and dark chocolate.
Not much pizza or pasta.
Michael Moseley says we should adopt a Mediterranean-style diet to improve our health and wellbeing
Evidence for the benefits of this diet come from multiple studies, one of the most impressive being from one titled Primary Prevention Of Cardiovascular Disease With A Mediterranean Diet – or PREDIMED.
Begun in 2003, this was a huge and very expensive randomised controlled trial involving over 7,400 Spaniards, many of them type 2 diabetics. The volunteers were allocated either to a standard low-fat diet, with lots of starchy foods such as potatoes and pasta, or to a Mediterranean diet.
Both groups were encouraged to eat more fruit and veg and minimise processed foods including cake, biscuits, salami and bacon.
Only the Med diet group were encouraged to consume lots of olive oil, nuts, eggs and oily fish. Also on their menu was full- fat yogurt, wine with meals and dark chocolate.
At the end of the trial, compared to those on the low-fat diet, deaths from heart disease and stroke were down by 30 per cent and the chances of becoming a diabetic were also 50 per cent lower
NHS choices, the website that provides information to the public, writes approvingly of the Mediterranean diet. Yet oddly enough it goes on to state: ‘You can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by eating plenty of starchy foods, such as bread and pasta.’
And it adds: ‘The diet is similar to the Government’s healthy- eating advice set out in the Eatwell Guide.’
Except it clearly isn’t.
The Eatwell plate recommends a standard low-fat, high-carb diet and includes few of the elements that make the Mediterranean diet particularly healthy.
No wonder the public – and doctors – are confused.
To help make this easier, I have devised my own ‘Eat Better’ plate, which shows roughly what you should be eating and in what proportions while on a low-carb Med diet.
Dark chocolate is part of a Mediterrean diet, as well as wine and protein in the form of meat, eggs, nuts, fish and dairy products
3. GPs are under pressure to prescribe medication rather than help patients lose weight
Dr David Unwin, a GP in Stockport who is passionate about spreading the word about nutrition and diabetes, has been recommending a relatively low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet to his patients for some time.
He has published studies showing that patients who follow his advice not only lose weight and keep it off, but are able to cut their medication, saving the NHS tens of thousands of pounds. Yet this approach is still seen as faddy. ‘I’ve been told by other doctors what I do is dangerous,’ he says.
In some regions, GPs are financially penalised if they don’t put patients on medication straight away. One GP told me her practice had recently lost funding because, as she put it: ‘We are helping patients manage their high blood sugars through diet and as a result we are not prescribing enough drugs to hit our targets.’
Surely it would be better to give patients the chance to take control of their own health, before starting a lifetime on medication?
4. Rapid weight loss can be more effective than ‘slow and steady’
Standard advice is to lose weight gradually, about a pound or so a week. Yet as some of America’s leading obesity specialists recently wrote in the New England Journal Of Medicine, the evidence is that ‘more rapid and greater initial weight loss is associated with lower body weight at [in the] long term’.
Studies by Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University, whose research forms the basis of my new book, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, have shown that going on an 800-calorie diet for eight weeks leads to average weight loss of 30 lb and can reverse type 2 diabetes in most cases. Even modest weight loss, particularly if it comes off the waist, can help.
If you are a prediabetic and lose, say, seven per cent of your body weight, this will cut your risk of becoming diabetic by 60 per cent. If you are over 65, it’s over 70 per cent. In fact, studies have shown that for every 2.2 lb you lose, you cut your risk by about 16 per cent.
Fruit should be an important part of a diet but more emphasis should be placed on vegetables which have lower sugar content
5. Exercise won’t help you lose weight
Doing exercise burns calories, so surely it will help you lose weight?
Unfortunately, that is not what usually happens.
The trouble is that people underestimate how much exercise they need to do. To burn off a muffin, you would have to run at least four miles at a moderate pace.
To burn 2 lb of fat, you would have to run at least two marathons.
We tend to reward ourselves for doing exercise by eating more, while unconsciously compensating for calories burnt by moving less.
Exercise is great for the heart and the brain, and it is an important way to control blood sugar levels. But cutting calories and changing what you eat is a more effective way to achieve weight loss.
6. It’s good to go hungry
The standard advice is that you should avoid getting hungry because otherwise you will gorge on unhealthy foods.
This is what I used to believe until I started researching something called ‘intermittent fasting’ for a science documentary called Eat, Fast, Live Longer.
This led to the invention of what I called the 5:2 diet, where you cut your calories to about a quarter two days a week (600 for men, 500 for women). On this diet, I lost 22 lb and reversed my diabetes. Many others have done so with similar success.
7. Drinking alcohol can be good for you
Drinking large amounts of alcohol is bad for you and helps pile on weight. A small glass of wine or a pint of beer can come to nearly 200 calories.
Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, so you are more likely to snack and also more likely to have another glass.
On the other hand, drinking a glass of wine with your evening meal is unlikely to do you much harm, and the evidence from a number of studies is that it may do you good.
- Michael Mosley is the author of The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet. For more information, go to www.thebloodsugardiet.com.
- Resources: You-eat-beat-diabetes-isn-t-NHS-telling-man-revolutionary-5-2-d iet-reveals-exactly-plate