Daily Express


Pearl El- Taha’s life has been transforme­d after losing 5st and, as LAURA MILNE reports, she is no longer taking insulin


IT IS the simplest pleasures in life that Pearl El- Taha most appreciate­s, such as cuddling her grandsons, Henry, three, and two- year- old Myles. Yet while this simple act may sound like something most grandparen­ts would take for granted, for Pearl, who has lived with Type 2 diabetes for 25 years, it is nothing short of remarkable.

Until recently the 64 year- old, who at her heaviest weighed 21 stone, had to inject herself with insulin three times a day and take three different types of tablets. She had tried all sorts of diets over the years but nothing had worked for her. But now, after shedding 5 stone Pearl has been taken off insulin and her diabetes medication was reduced, boosting both her health and confidence.

“I feel like Twiggy when I look in the mirror now,” says Pearl. “I feel so much better both physically and mentally, it’s amazing.” When she married nearly 40 years ago Pearl was a size 14 but after she had her children Nadia, 37, and Charlie, 35, the weight began piling on and she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1991.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, the hormone which regulates blood sugar levels, to function properly or the body’s cells do not react to insulin, meaning that glucose stays in the blood and is not used as fuel for energy.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that can cause health problems including blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation, heart disease and stroke.

Pearl is just one of almost four million adults in Britain living with Type 2 diabetes, an increase of almost 60 per cent compared with 10 years ago. The majority of cases are linked to poor diet, a lack of exercise and obesity.

“I was being treated for high blood pressure, thyroid disease, gout and osteoarthr­itis,” she says. “My nerves were affected and I had poor circulatio­n in my legs. I had nerve damage and was fearful of losing a foot. I also had a painful back problem and my blood glucose was too high. I had to lose weight to reduce the load on my damaged foot.”

Pearl’s diabetes consultant referred her to Professor Anthony Leeds, an obesity specialist at the Central Middlesex Hospital where her diabetes is managed. “Professor Leeds was extremely supportive. He has been with me every step of the way,” says Pearl, who lives in Brent, north London.

She started on a Cambridge Weight Plan diet of 1,500 calories per day, consisting of two formula soups and milk shakes and one convention­al meal. She was also allowed the odd chocolate bar for a treat.

WITHIN a month Pearl lost more than a stone and then moved on to a 1,100- calorie diet for four months to shed the rest of the weight.

Professor Leeds says: “Pearl’s success and determinat­ion are remarkable. It enabled her insulin treatment to stop, along with one of the oral diabetes medication­s.

“Insulin therapy is commonly used to help Type 2 diabetics control blood sugar levels but it has been linked to weight gain as people eat more through fear of low blood sugars, creating an insulin catch- 22 trap,” he adds.

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