We used to be told: Take pills and hope for the best. One man has changed all that

The Mail on Sunday - - Health -

that this deadly con­di­tion, which af­fects about four mil­lion Bri­tons, can be put into re­mis­sion with a rapid weight-loss diet.

Now, in his new book, Life With­out Di­a­betes, Prof Tay­lor re­veals the science be­hind his dis­cov­er­ies and how you can do the same, at home.

In this week’s You mag­a­zine, you will find an un­miss­able taste of Prof Tay­lor’s sim­ple, three-stage eat­ing plan. There are more than 20 de­li­cious, low-calo­rie recipes to make the diet far eas­ier to swal­low.

Be­fore Prof Tay­lor’s dis­cov­ery, it was thought that this press­ing health prob­lem – which af­fects twice as many peo­ple as it did 20 years ago – could not be re­versed. It was a life­long af­flic­tion and in­evitably pro­gres­sive. Com­pli­ca­tions in­clude an in­creased risk of heart disease, de­men­tia, am­pu­ta­tion, blind­ness and kid­ney fail­ure. Peo­ple would be ad­vised to take tablets and hope for the best. But thanks to a ground-break­ing study, called DiRECT, car­ried out by Prof Tay­lor and his col­league Pro­fes­sor Mike Lean at the Univer­sity of Glas­gow, we now know this needn’t be the case.

I was so im­pressed by their research that I used it as in­spi­ra­tion, and adapted it slightly for my Eight-Week Blood Su­gar Diet which in­volves eat­ing 800 calo­ries each day for 12 weeks. I am pleased to say it has so far helped thou­sands of read­ers send their di­a­betes into re­mis­sion.

This ap­proach is pre­dicted to spark a seis­mic change in how doc­tors treat the con­di­tion, sav­ing the NHS mil­lions of pounds.

A re­cent study re­vealed that an 800-calo­rie diet could slash the an­nual cost of treat­ment for type 2 di­a­betes. Cur­rently, treat­ing each pa­tient costs about £2,800 ev­ery year, which adds up to about ten per cent of the an­nual NHS bud­get. But diet in­ter­ven­tions, such as the one pi­o­neered by Prof Tay­lor, cost just over £1,000 per pa­tient.

I’m keen to ex­plain how I came to know Prof Tay­lor – both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally – and show you how, if you have raised blood sug­ars – and per­haps are on the verge of di­a­betes – you can bring them back down to nor­mal with a rapid weight loss diet. I should know – I’ve been there…

HOW I GOT STARTED… WITH IN­TER­MIT­TENT FAST­ING

MY FIRST meet­ing with Pro­fes­sor Tay­lor, in June 2014, fol­lowed my own bat­tle with type 2 di­a­betes.

As I have writ­ten pre­vi­ously in this news­pa­per, I was di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion eight years ago, fol­low­ing a rou­tine blood test.

My doc­tor said there was noth­ing that could be done apart from tak­ing med­i­ca­tion. I would start on the widely pre­scribed met­formin, but there was a 50-50 chance that within a decade I would be forced to in­ject my­self with in­sulin. Nat­u­rally, I was shocked.

My fa­ther had de­vel­oped type 2 di­a­betes in his late 50s, and de­spite be­ing on med­i­ca­tion, he died of com­pli­ca­tions of that disease, in­clud­ing heart fail­ure. I didn’t want to fol­low his ex­am­ple, so I looked else­where for an­swers.

I soon came across research show­ing the ben­e­fits of some­thing, which was lit­tle-known at the time, called in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing. It in­volved re­strict­ing calo­ries for a por­tion of the week, and led to my dis­cov­ery of a new ap­proach to weight loss which I called the 5:2. For those of you who aren’t fa­mil­iar with it, it in­volves cut­ting calo­ries for just two days each week.

Over the course of two months, I lost nearly a stone and a half – and my blood su­gar lev­els re­turned to nor­mal, where they have stayed ever since. This proved to be the in­spi­ra­tion for my first in­ter­na­tional best­seller, The Fast Diet, with jour­nal­ist Mimi Spencer.

De­spite this suc­cess, I still didn’t fully un­der­stand the science be­hind my health trans­for­ma­tion. Then I read about the work of Prof Tay­lor. It made a lot of sense, so I took a train to his research cen­tre at New­cas­tle Univer­sity to find out more.

He ex­plained that the rea­son I had de­vel­oped the con­di­tion in the first place was be­cause I had, over the years, ac­cu­mu­lated too much fat around my gut. This fat had be­gun to clog up my liver and pan­creas, stop­ping them work­ing prop­erly. Th­ese or­gans are vi­tally im­por­tant for reg­u­lat­ing blood su­gar lev­els. In type 2 di­a­betes, the body’s sys­tem of reg­u­lat­ing blood su­gar goes awry.

Prof Tay­lor, who is an honorary en­docrinol­ogy con­sul­tant at the

New­cas­tle Hospi­tals NHS Trust, al so i ntro­duced me t o s o me­thing he called ‘the per­sonal fat thresh­old’. This is partly why some peo­ple can be­come hugely over­weight with­out de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes, while oth­ers can be a healthy weight and still be­come di­a­betic.

Your per­sonal fat thresh­old is de­ter­mined largely by your genes – hav­ing a close rel­a­tive with di­a­betes, like I did, puts you at much greater risk.

But there was good news. He had con­ducted stud­ies which found that most peo­ple could re­turn their blood sug­ars to non-di­a­betic lev­els by los­ing just one gram of fat from around their pan­creas. To do that, they needed to lose roughly ten per cent of their body weight. Then Prof Tay­lor told me about an up­com­ing trial called DiRECT – which would prove to be hugely im­por­tant.

DRUG-FREE WAY TO FIGHT THE DISEASE

ALONG with Mike Lean, pro­fes­sor of hu­man nu­tri­tion at Glas­gow Royal In­fir­mary, and sup­ported by a multi- mil­lion- pound grant from char­ity Di­a­betes UK, Prof Tay­lor re­cruited nearly 300 type 2 di­a­betes pa­tients.

Half were asked to fol­low a rapid weight- loss ap­proach to treat­ment, and the other half al­lo­cated stan­dard NHS care. Pa­tients in the weight-loss group were given a strict 800-calo­rie

a- day eat­ing plan for up to 12 weeks, made up of three meal­re­place­ment shakes.

The ini­tial find­ings, pub­lished at the end of 2018, were sen­sa­tional. Those eat­ing 800 calo­ries a day for 12 weeks lost an av­er­age of one­and-a-half stone – and the weight stayed off for more than a year.

In com­par­i­son, the con­trol group lost an av­er­age of just over 2 lb. What’s more, half of the 800-calo­rie pa­tients put their di­a­betes into re­mis­sion. Their blood su­gar lev­els went back to nor­mal, with­out med­i­ca­tion. Only four per cent in the con­trol group man­aged to achieve this.

A fol­low-up study, was pub­lished last year and, im­pres­sively, the 800-calo­rie group had man­aged to keep most of the weight off.

De­spite be­ing on much l ess med­i­ca­tion, they also con­tin­ued to have lower blood su­gar, choles­terol and blood pres­sure lev­els than the con­trol group.

In the group get­ting stan­dard NHS care, t wo had suf­fered strokes, one had an am­pu­ta­tion, and an­other sadly died from com­pli­ca­tions of the disease.

Other research has tri­alled dif­fer­ent ver­sions, for ex­am­ple swap­ping some of the calo­ries in shakes for a small por­tion of veg­eta­bles to in­crease bowel-friendly fi­bre.

The re­sults of the DiRECT trial were so promis­ing, that NHS chiefs have an­nounced that more than 5,000 pa­tients are be­ing of­fered a rapid weight-loss pro­gramme, start­ing in April.

As Prof Lean said to me: ‘ For years we’ve been telling type 2 di­a­betes pa­tients to take the pills and not worry too much.

‘It is time to tell them that this is a se­ri­ous disease with nasty com­pli­ca­tions, par­tic­u­larly if you de­velop it in your 40s or 50s. But the good news is that with the right help, many peo­ple can now get shot of it.’

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN RE­VERSE IT AT HOME

AN­OTHER bit of good news is you don’t have to be part of a med­i­cal trial to see th­ese phe­nom­e­nal re­sults – thou­sands of peo­ple have had great suc­cess stick­ing to this sort of pro­gramme.

Of course if you’re do­ing it at home, the cir­cum­stances will be dif­fer­ent. For in­stance, in the DiRECT study, pa­tients were asked to con­sume spe­cial meal­re­place­ment shakes. Th­ese shakes can be very help­ful, par­tic­u­larly when start­ing out. But you can also do it with real, solid food.

A small study con­ducted by re­searchers at Ox­ford Univer­sity r a ndomly a l l o c a t e d 3 3 o ver­weight pa­tients with type 2 di­a­betes to an 800-calo­rie-a-day diet, or stan­dard care.

Pa­tients were given ad­vice from health pro­fes­sion­als – in­clud­ing ideas for recipes – and pre­pared meals for them­selves at home.

Af­ter three months, those on the 800-calo­rie diet lost an av­er­age of one-and-a-half stone and saw big drops in their blood su­gar lev­els.

As in the DiRECT study, many of them were able to come off their med­i­ca­tion.

There’s plenty more recipes that stick within the 800 daily calo­rie l i mit on my web­site, the­fast800.com.

But what if a rapid weight­loss diet isn’t for you? Any diet that in­volves los­ing enough weight to un­clog your pan­creas will al­most cer­tainly help. ‘Enough’ usu­ally means ten per cent of your body weight – or at least 22 lb if you are over­weight.

One tried and tested method of los­ing weight at a slower pace is via the 5:2 diet, which is the way I did it.

For five days of the week, eat a healthy, bal­anced diet, and steer clear of sweet, fatty stuffs such as choco­late and crisps. Then, for two days, stick to 800 calo­ries.

In a re­cent Aus­tralian study in­volv­ing 137 pa­tients with type 2 di­a­betes, those al­lo­cated to a 5: 2 diet man­aged to sus­tain an av­er­age weight loss of roughly a stone over the course of a year, lead­ing to big im­prove­ments in blood su­gar lev­els. The par­tic­i­pants who were the most dili­gent kept off an av­er­age of 1st 9 lb.

In Prof Tay­lor’s three- stage plan in You mag­a­zine, he rec­om­mends stick­ing to three, small and healthy meals daily for longterm weight main­te­nance, and 100 calo­ries of veg­eta­bles for added fi­bre. The spe­cially crafted recipes in­clude imag­i­na­tive things you can do with veg­eta­bles, which will help the process.

Th­ese days, he rec­om­mends a to­tal limit of a slightly stricter 700 calo­ries, to al­low room for the odd cup of tea – which we know Bri­tons strug­gle to live with­out.

If you can man­age this, great. But many strug­gle with this, know­ing that they’ll be tempted by the oc­ca­sional week­end take­away or choco­late bar.

So some peo­ple find a 5:2 eat­ing pat­tern eas­ier to stick to, as it leaves space for the odd treat. Just make sure it re­ally is oc­ca­sional, of course.

We strongly ad­vise con­sult­ing your doc­tor be­fore em­bark­ing on any diet plan. You should also dis­cuss your med­i­ca­tion if nec­es­sary. The eat­ing plan is not suit­able if you are preg­nant, breast­feed­ing or over­weight.

Life With­out Di­a­betes, by Pro­fes­sor Roy Tay­lor, is pub­lished by Short Books, priced £9.99.

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