Monthly Archives: February 2014

Type 1 diabetics being let down by inappropriate nutritional advice?

I was intrigued this week to read an online discussion about the nutritional advice and examples being given to people with Type 1 diabetes via the most commonly delivered education programme, DAFNE.

It’s a tricky problem isn’t it?  Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin – there’s no getting away from this simple truth. But there is a whole lot of subtlety about how to get the best outcomes by using foods and insulin in the most intelligent and appropriate ways.

I can completely appreciate the temptation for someone with Type 1 to eat whatever carbs they fancy knowing that on one level an insulin injection can compensate, by bringing blood glucose back into acceptable levels.  What that insulin injection cannot compensate for, however, is the fact that those sugary, high carb foods have great potential to cause weight gain, belly fat, systemic inflammation, high cholesterol, insulin resistance and more.  In this sense someone with Type 1 diabetes is no different from a non-diabetic.  High carb diets are intrinsically linked with weight gain, obesity and the risk of developing serious diseases – FOR EVERYONE!

So to actively encourage anyone at all to recklessly indulge in sugary, high carb foods is irresponsible.  To tell anyone that it’s OK to eat copious amounts of sweets, cakes and biscuits is irresponsible.  To do that within the context of a course delivered at the expense of the NHS – remember the taxpayer will pick up all the future bills for the consequences of this advice – is irresponsible.

To encourage this in a person with Type 1 diabetes is worse – and that’s because injecting insulin brings with it significant side effects – as I covered in my last blog post.  Insulin is not a benign medication.  Just because it is a natural hormone doesn’t mean that having large amounts present in the blood stream is desirable, or even OK. Large amounts of insulin comes with risks!

People with Type 1 diabetes know that over time weight gain is likely: this is one of the signs that the carb balance for their lifestyle is wrong.  More than weight gain, they will experience complications from the effects of the disease and the medication, and are likely to die several years before their non-diabetic counterparts.

We really need to understand that when we put food inside our bodies it has an effect.  We all have a choice whether that effect will be beneficial or harmful.  But we only have a real choice if it is based on sound knowledge of what that effect will truly be.  The role of carbs is to provide energy.  If we don’t expend energy, we don’t need many carbs.  If we don’t need many carbs but consume them anyway they will be stored – as body fat. ALWAYS! Even when someone with Type 1 diabetes resolves any blood glucose crisis with a shot of insulin, those extra carbs will still be turned into body fat.

So we have to get away from the idea that insulin can make it all alright to overdo the carbs.  It can’t, it won’t and it doesn’t!

Last week one of my RebalanceDiabetes guys, a Type 1 diabetic, reported back that since he had started to tailor his carb intake to match his lifestyle and activity levels, he has lost 6lbs of belly fat, halved his insulin use, and feels better in himself for as long as he has been diagnosed. IN JUST 2 WEEKS!

DAFNE is the acronym for “Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating”. Where carbs are concerned we have to redefine “normal eating”.  In the past few decades our lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary, yet we have failed to reduce our carb intake to match that.  We still consume carbs as if we had the activity levels of previous generations.  In fact we consume MORE carbs now – more sugars than ever are loaded into our daily diets.

We are paying the price – with our health!

Activity on the decline, carbs on the up = disease on the increase!

I am all for individuals having freedom of choice.  If you choose high carb – well OK.  If you choose to match your carbs with your lifestyle – fantastic.  But one thing is for sure – education should at least provide the proper information on which those choices can then be more intelligently made.  Let’s make our diabetes education at least responsible for providing the right advice and examples – the rest is then down to the individual.  They will make their own choices based on their own self-worth not on the basis of incorrect or incomplete information.

If our healthcare educators cannot deliver quality advice or better examples, then how do expect individuals to get it right for themselves?  There is something quite shameful about not taking the opportunity to encourage those who are motivated to take responsibility for their own health.

See for yourself what the right advice can help someone with Type 1 diabetes do for themselves:



Massive increase in amount of insulin being prescribed

insulinI was extremely troubled by reports this week that the amount of insulin being prescribed has increased 3-fold in just 20 years.

The BBC reported that this is due to the huge increase in people with Type 2 diabetes now using the drug.  They correctly allude to the fact that this indicates a failure in diabetes care!  There should be no need whatsoever for the vast majority of Type 2 patients to find themselves using insulin if they are given proper nutrition and lifestyle advice.

It’s easy to believe that because the human body produces it’s own insulin then taking it as a medication is benign. It really isn’t.  There are numerous side effects linked with taking insulin as a medication, and some are serious: these are taken from a reputable website :-

Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • redness, swelling, and itching at the injection site
  • changes in the feel of your skin, skin thickening (fat build-up), or a little depression in the skin (fat breakdown)
  • weight gain
  • constipation

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: these are the more serious side effects!

  • rash and/or itching over the whole body
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • fast heartbeat
  • sweating
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • weakness
  • muscle cramps
  • abnormal heartbeat
  • large weight gain in a short period of time
  • swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs

Many diabetics may be lead to believe they can eat whatever they like and compensate by injecting insulin.  But the health risks associated are not insignificant!

Balancing blood sugar using food is a very different experience compared with using insulin.  People who do report easy weight loss; lower blood sugars on average and over time this clearly shows in HbA1c readings; more energy, vitality and big improvements in overall wellbeing.

Try it – you might like it!  Just like the Type 1 client who reported back just last night that with a few simple dietary changes he has halved his fast-acting insulin in just 2 weeks, lost 6lbs in belly fat and is feeling very well indeed thank you. Am so happy for him, and can’t wait to see what he achieves by the end of his Rebalance programme!

Government attacked? About time too!

According to a news article today, our Government is under attack for its crazy “healthy eating” deals with the food industry.  Well not before time!

The Government’s plan to fight obesity through voluntary deals with fast-food chains is founded on “pure illusion” and will lead to ever-worsening ill health in Britain, a leading expert claims today.

No kidding!  Just look at what I found on a (very!) rare visit to a Tesco superstore last week…(photo taken Monday 28th January, 13:21, Clifton Moor, York)

IMG00255-20140128-1321A whole aisle devoted to special offers was sited right in front of the main entrance – so the first thing you see when you walk into the store, is a startling array of junk all at bargain basement prices.  Now with headlines claiming that “three fizzy drinks per day could triple chance of heart disease“, just how voluntarily responsible does Mr. Cameron think his corporate chums will actually be? Because so far, really not so good Mr. Tesco! 

Tesco will proudly, and loudly, sell you a lot of poison for just £1 it seems. This, on a day when I filled my basket with organic vegetables and yoghurt to be given price-promise vouchers at the check-out because my shop would have been cheaper elsewhere, was too much to bear!  It absolutely highlights that if you are on a budget you can buy all the junk you need at £1 an item in Tesco, but if you wish to give your family real food, if you care enough to play your part in taking responsibility for your own health  – well sorry Tesco are nowhere to be seen!

The contradiction between the meaningless words and damaging deeds of the food industry is highlighted within the article:   Asked about the Government’s voluntary “responsibility deals” with industry, which the Department of Health claims “tap into the potential for businesses and other influential organisations to make a significant contribution to improving public health”, Professor de Vogli was scathing. “There is no question,” he said. “Big corporations have a mission to maximise profit. If we hope and expect that profit-driven businesses will safeguard public health, it is pure illusion.” 

Tesco_new_logoIn this example, Tesco are clearly on a mission to maximise their profits rather than to make any significant contribution to improving public health.  Could this be how they will fund their charitable donation promised to DiabetesUK? A member of my local DiabetesUK group recently told me that Tesco were their biggest charitable partner for 2013.  What a cynical move!!  Make a huge profit doing everything you can to encourage the consumption of the very products that cause the disease, and then claim credit for a relatively affordable contribution into the charity?

Could this really have been David Cameron’s aspiration in allowing these health-criminals to police themselves, and purport to wear halos at the same time?

On the same news day HRH Prince Charles gets involved in the argument about the quality of hospital food.  I have no disagreement with him – our patients do need good food – but good food at the point after illness has already developed is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted… is it not?

How many hospital stays, how much disease could be prevented if our food choices weren’t at the mercy of Tesco and chums?