Achieving complete reversal may not be possible for everyone, but I saw people who had taken fairly large doses of insulin for several years lose weight with a lower-carb diet and who were then able to come off insulin and control their blood sugar only with the drug Metformin.”
He’s frustrated that doctors are still telling patients that type 2 diabetes is irreversible, and giving traditional dietary advice to eat a low-fat, higher-fibre diet, basing all meals on carbohydrates, albeit swapping white bread, pasta and rice for whole-wheat versions.
This is precisely the advice Marie was given when she was diagnosed in 2013, and she followed it to the letter. “It didn’t make one jot of difference: I still felt awful. By 2.30pm, after eating lunch, I would feel sweaty, ill and I couldn’t concentrate,” she says.
Then she stumbled on diabetes.co.uk and discovered lots of people were experimenting with a low-carb diet: eating more good fats but fewer starchy foods.
She tried it – replacing breakfast cereal with Greek yoghurt, berries and nuts, swapping her lunchtime sandwich for soup or tuna salad, and sharing the same dinner as her husband and two daughters, but having a smaller portion of potatoes, rice or pasta. Snacks were the odd plain digestive biscuit and small bar of dark chocolate. Suddenly, her blood sugar levels fell from 12 at diagnosis to about 5-5½, which is within the normal range, and her symptoms disappeared. She’s lost 2st through the diet and from simply being more active.
“I don’t like to think of it in terms of a ‘cure’ or a reversal – although my practice nurse said I was in the reversal zone – because I don’t want to get complacent,” says Marie.
“If I was to go back to eating rubbish and being inactive, the symptoms might return.”
They almost certainly would, says Dr Cavan: “I would never use the word ‘cure’ because it implies something permanent. But type 2 diabetes can be reversed and it’s frustrating that the message is not getting out there.”