This is really for diabetics, or people that know someone who is.
Please do not hijack it and start talking diets in general, thank you.
Please bear in mind, when reading this, that I am not a medical person.
If you want to follow the same diet that I have followed, then you must research it and make up your own mind. If you decide to try it out, you are on your own and I am in no way liable for illness or problems that you may encounter.I cannot recommend it in any way, rather, I will recount my own ‘path’. I may be a little bit out on figures as my memory isn’t great, but overall I am writing this with honesty to the best of my recall so please don’t knock it, thanks.
I first heared about the supposed ‘miracle cure’, somewhen last summer. It was a fairly lead story on lunchtime BBC news. It went something like “scientist in the US claim that following an extreme low carbohydrate diet for only eight weeks, may cure diabetes”.
My ears obviously pricked up on this, and I decided to do a little research ( a lot actually over six months)
Now …(and don’t think I am anti-American !) I tend to take US research with a large pinch of salt !. There are always huge claims of cures coming from the US and an awful lot of false hopes and rich therapists and doctors.
I used the internet to look into all sides of the claimed cure, and then found that the research had been repeated in the UK at Newcastle Biomedical. This added weight to the whole concept (sorry Americans …again)... The UK research team had enlisted the help of 11 volunteers, and at the end of the diet, it was claimed that 7 of them were free of diabetes. I followed this up more, and as far as I could discover, of the 11 test subjects, 3 had given up after a few weeks and one had been told the requirements and walked out straight away!. That means that it had a 100% success rate.
Apart from the direct people involved in the Newcastle tests, there are others who also quote this diet. There are other reports of success including some people in India, who claim that it works but you must then go onto a ‘maintenance diet (very low carbs) ’, afterwards. Some of those claim that after another 2 years, they are cured to the point that they eat sweets (Indian delicacies) all the time with no ill effects.
The basis of the USA/ Newcastle diet was that it came about due to the increased use of gastric band surgery. This is sometimes applied to extreme diabetics who are highly overweight. Doctors were curious that after the surgery there were almost instant results with hugely reduced diabetic indications. The reasons for this (like everything else in diabetes ) were argued with many opinions. The overriding opinion was that the sudden ceasing of carbohydrates (instant due to surgery) caused the body to go into some sort of ‘panic’ mode where it started depleting its own fat deposits around the liver and pancreas to form energy , and had a kind of “kick start” effect. It was this that lead doctors to wonder if the same could be achieved without the drastic path of surgery…thus…the USA and Newcastle tests.
I found some very informative video on Youtube, that gives a sort of ‘simplified insight’ into how diabetes works likening it to the cells having to be unlocked by the insulin to allow absorption of glucose. They are worth a look.
I started writing up a ‘blog’ and put this on the Canal World website (as I am a boater)…and had an inspiring reply, that someone had been driving the Newcastle test subjects and had seen that it worked. This was helpful to me.
I looked closely at the requirements of the diet, and its hard…VERY HARD !
You are consuming no more than 800 calories a day for 8 weeks. On the original test, this consisted of 3 meal replacement drinks a day (water based) which make up 600 calories. You then have about 250 grams of vegetables from a restrictive list that make up the other 200 calories. The vegetables are mainly for fibre as you will otherwise end up constipated. The meal replacement drinks are NOT the type you find in the shops. The original ‘Optifast’, is not available in the UK. I researched this carefully, and found an alternative which is called Gloucerna SR, and is made by Abbott laboratories in the UK. Abbott laboratories make diabetic test strips and have manufactured diabetic products for about 125 years, so they know what they are doing.
I bought and paid for these myself. You need about 24 tins for the 8 weeks and they are about £11 a tin. Each drink has 52 grams of the powder and there is 400 grams in a tin.
I dismissed the standard diet drinks as unsuitable.
If you look at supermarket types, they contain some of the RDA of vits and minerals but not enough.You don’t want to truly starve yourself as you are already in a ‘danger position’ sticking to the official diet !.
Slimfast is ridiculous as it has around 5 teaspoons of sugar per drink.
I went for Glucerna, because it is made for hospital use, hence the difficulty in obtaining it. It is a proper meal replacement for those in hospital who cannot eat, and it gives them their total RDA of vits and minerals.
Glucerna has no sugar or fat at all !
You must drink A LOT of water ( or unsweeted/ unmilked hot drinks) to flush the body or ketosis may set in. This is something to be wary of on diets like ‘The Atkins’ as it can be fatal.
I discovered black tea with a spoon of chilli flakes to be quite lively, but personal taste I guess ?. Hot spices lower blood sugar, as does cinnamon cassia, which I used a lot in cooking.
Many people have replied to me and said they would rather go onto a long slow diet. This is recommended for diabetics, but my own ‘feelings’ (and this has no medical basis other than opinions of the researchers) are that it is the drastic “instant stop” that causes the reversal to start, like gastric surgery. The idea (speculated) is that you are basically in a ‘controlled starvation’ mode.
Examining the Newcastle ‘write up’, I found that I was an ideal subject. This may exclude some people reading this as diabetes comes about in many different ways, general advancing years, genetic etc.
In my own case, I was (at one point) nearly 17 stone. I would like to point out that this was not my weight prior to the diet, as I had made efforts to get myself down to 13 stone and below. I am 6 feet tall, but have a very thin build, small ribcage and thin legs. Thus 17 stone was even more overweight for me. Some people carry that weight and are more proportional. If you look online at the NHS BMI calculator (body mass index) I was surprised I was classed as very overweight even at 13 stone.
My BMI was about 26.2 when I started ( as I recall ?)
I was ideal (candidate) in that : my diabetes was due to huge unhealthy lifestyle due to bad diet. Extreme alcohol consumption, and stress of suddenly losing a loved one.
I was also within 4 years of diagnosis, and so still relatively ‘new’ to diabetes.
I am also ‘bloody stubborn’ and capable of seeing things through.
I was also ‘inspired’ (in a sad way) by seeing the results of unchecked diabetes.
A colleague was diagnosed some years back and is now blind due to poor control.
I spend some of the year in Spain. If you do this, then take a look at the many ex-pats in cafes and bars who have no legs. It’s a fact that in many cases this is due to them being controlled diabetics in the UK, but when they go to live abroad they feel they are on holiday all the time. They set into the sweet lager and carbs and then eventually lose feet and legs etc. I pull no punches in writing this here, because it’s the truth. Stick to the medical advice and meds and you should be OK, but don’t abandon it.
Please…do not abandon it.
I started this diet a month before Christmas, as I would be leaving this area in March and didn’t want to be ‘out of reach’ of my regular medical practice. I underwent my yearly diabetic screening before that, and it had once again come back that I was slightly ‘raised’ above previous years.
Diabetes is a ‘progressive’ illness and this is the path it takes. I had been taking metformin in gradually increased doses over the previous years, this was now being stepped up to a stronger diabetic drug.
I ‘ran’ the Newcastle diet idea past my diabetic nurse and doctor before commencing. They advised against it and said to just continue on my current path. I have no criticism of them for this, as these days you cannot just advise patients to leap into radical changes until it’s been thoroughly tested. The problem for me was that it would take about 5 years or more to test , and then I would be too far advanced.
I started the diet, and like any diet, it was ‘all enthusiasm’.
The weight began to crash off me. My clothes became lose in no time and Primark became my new best friend. Their jeans sales shot up during this period. I also tried to do a little jogging and stair climbing.
During week 2, it became harder. The food started to become boring.
I thought..’how will I ever complete this’..but I kept going.
The food list is limited, and spice bottles become popular.
For example, you are not allowed ANY meat., fish or poultry.
No dairy, no milk even skimmed, no potatoes, rice pulses.
Just a very very limited list of veg.
I tried adding curry powder to my sprouts. I would not advise this !
I immersed myself into some new projects, this is a good thing to do.
It was so good, that I even missed a diet drink from time to time which put me only only 600 calories (but this isn’t to be advised..but its my life so what the heck !).
I drank loads of water.
In summer, I live for about 6 months on my canal boat.
I don’t feel that I could have handled this while on my boat as I would have been in close proximity to my wife who (bless her) did her best to be supportive, but I could not have coped with watching her eat normally while I starved.
I found myself becoming ‘sharper’ in my mind and more adventurous and positive with ideas. I am a creative person in both music and art , and it was very beneficial.
Over the 8 weeks, I wrote and recorded a new album of 10 songs !.
As I’m not on my boat for winter (I’m in my flat ) I took on stand-in jobs playing bass on some shows. This is very intensive ‘sight reading’ and this took my mind off things.
Although hungry, I started to feel better than I had done for years.
Monitoring my blood sugar several times a day, it started to fall drastically ( as it would with hardly any carbs to make sugar)
I stopped taking all diabetic drugs so as not to induce a hypo, and found myself settling into low 4’s (in fact high 3’s some mornings but only in the initial weeks) and generally 4-5 before bed. This was without any drugs.
My blood pressure also fell and looked very healthy.
Christmas day, was killer.
I had some cauliflower with home made tomato sauce and onions.
The TV was all adverts for turkey, chicken and roast potatoes. It was miserable.
I nearly..’crashed and burned’ over those few days.
I ;’think’ that I noticed the most changes in the last 10 days of the diet.
That was when I consistently found that after eating, my blood sugar rose and then rapidly sank on its own accord. I think, I felt some definite changes happening during that period. I’m glad that I didn’t abandon things after week 6, and say ‘that’s enough’.
It would have been easy to have convinced myself that if things were going to happen, 6 weeks would have been enough, but I’m glad I kept going.
And so…I completed the diet as per (and slightly better than ) the Newcastle tests.
During the past week, at the end of it all, I started to pick up on my eating.
I am having some lean meat, lots of veg, but no spuds, white rice etc.
I will introduce small amounts of brown rice and a few slices of spud as I go along.
I treated myself to a curry ( I love them)..but had shashlik..no sauce…no rice..salad and nan bread. My readings raised..and fell back to 5 under their own steam in an hour.
I have finished with ALL alcohol.
I bought an espresso maker (thank you Ebay) and coffee is now my ‘new booze’.
I visited my doctor and told him that my BMI is now around 20.6
My weight is 10 stone 10 pounds (but I am well within the healthy region of the NHS BMI chart including the new version just published)
I look like, I have just been liberated from a POW camp, and don’t recognise myself in the mirror.
I gave him (the doc) the chart of my sugar levels.
Without hardly a thought he said ‘if you drop below BMI of 21 then diabetes will often disappear’.
Now..I wondered….why didn’t he tell me that to start with and pass it onto other patients ?. It seems silly to stuff me with drugs if there is a remote possibility for me and others that this can happen ?..(although I know this may not apply to all)
So he ordered a HBA1C test…and I returned this morning to find the results.
Now, I know that some will criticise me here, as I do not know the actual figures from it as I was so excited !.
My eyes just went sort of ‘bleary’.
He had a graph on screen with the ‘plot’ over the recent period.
He pointed out, some troughs, some small spikes and said ‘ This is a typical plot that I would see from someone without diabetes. It would appear that you no longer have any diabetic signs, and it has reversed ??! ..Well done !’
Now, this is short term, I am aware of that.
I have only been doing this for 2 months and the readings may be ‘slewed’ ?.
I now do not have to take any meds at all.
I will still monitor during the day in case it fails.
The doctor has also scheduled summer HBA1C tests as well as my normal October ‘overhaul’ to chart my progress.
I have NO intention of resuming my unhealthy lifestyle as I feel ‘bloody great !’
I am going onto a maintenance diet for at least a couple of years. That involves me, in the short term, resuming eating some carbs and finding a point where my weight loss ceases and I put on a couple of pounds. A sort of ‘ideal weight’ that I maintain at all costs. I want to maintain a BMI around the ‘21’ mark.
Such is my determination to carry this out, that I will never let up on it.
If you undertake this diet, you need to be totally devoted to it. As I ‘see it’ (only my opinion) you have to carry it out 100% as per plan or there is little point.
As I have said, I ‘think’ that the real things started to happen in the last 10 days.
I must admit, I am amazed (at myself) , that also brings positive thoughts and I’m sure, better health.
I will see what my next review brings in case it all fails and slides back, then I will post my progress and hope that it may be of a help to others.
Thank you for reading.
Good luck !