Type 2 diabetes: British man with type 2 diabetes reveals how he ‘reversed’ the condition

Diabetes is a condition in which the level of sugar in the blood is too high. It has no specific cure, but is treated with medication to keep blood sugar under control. This is important as diabetes can lead to problems with the heart, eyes, nerves, kidneys and feet if left untreated. However, research has shown type 2 diabetes can go into remission by making certain lifestyle changes, helping blood sugar to remain at a healthy level and removing the need for medication. spoke to Richard Shaw, who after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 54, reveals how he has now been free from the condition for two years.

Richard was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012. At the time, he was overweight, weighing over 117kg.

Weight has been linked to type 2 diabetes, in that being overweight increases the risk of developing the condition, as well as the associated complications.

After his diagnosis, Richard was faced with having to take vast amounts of medication to keep the condition under control, while regularly attending diabetes clinic examinations and having frequent blood tests, foot examinations and eye examinations.

“I found myself in a system where meds would be prescribed and sent to the chemist automatically for me to pick up in vast quantities every month or so,” Richard said.

“I was worried that I was going to be in a slow steady decline that would eventually end up with me being insulin-dependant, which meant injections every day – a nightmare thought for someone who’s as needle-phobic as me.”

Richard explained that as well as taking his medication, he tried to eat more healthily in order to lose weight. But for the first three years after diagnosis, his blood sugar levels stayed high and his weight remained about the same.

He had begun to succumb to the idea that he was going to have to deal with the condition for the rest of his life, when one day he came across a study which persuaded him to try a more drastic course of action.

“My life changed one day when I read a study by Dr Roy Taylor from Newcastle University’s Magnetic Resonance Centre, that saw people reverse type 2 diabetes by following a strictly monitored clinical diet.”

During the trial, 11 people had attempted to reverse their diagnosis by drastically cutting their calories to just 600 a day for two months.

The participants’ austere regime was made up of liquid diet-replacement shakes, plus a further 200 calories a day of non-starchy vegetables. At the end of the trial, seven out of the original 11 volunteers were diabetes-free.

“Since the 1980s, people with diabetes have been encouraged to eat a low-fat diet, including prodigious amounts of starchy carbohydrates,” said Richard.

“For decades, public health advice has encouraged us to believe that up to half our energy should come from carbohydrates, which typically means consuming 200g to 300g of carbs a day.

“Many people now believe that this is quite wrong — that this can actually promote weight gain, lead to high blood glucose levels and encourage a dependence on medication that only increases over time, leading to sufferers being prescribed stronger and stronger doses as they get older.

“So I decided to take some dramatic action. I needed to lose a lot of weight. I couldn’t do it by following the ultra-low calorie Newcastle approach (I like good food too much to stick with that) so I did it by setting myself five simple rules and following them ruthlessly for five months.

“I decided to dramatically reduce my daily carbs while [still] eating great food, get rid of sugars, reduce my daily calorie intake for a brief period, drink more water and do some light exercise.”

Those actions helped Richard to lose 31kg, and he has now been free from type 2 diabetes for two years.

“From the statistics I’ve seen there is a much greater chance of people putting their type 2 diabetes into remission if they try and deal with excess weight early on in their diagnosis,” said Richard.

“The statistics for people who leave it more than five or six years are much less promising. If people can get rid of the internal fat – the visceral fat – early in their diagnosis, they stand a much better chance of putting their condition into remission.”

According to Richard’s GP, Dr Charlotte Mendes da Costa, the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to eat a healthy, balanced, whole food, plant-based diet, which is very low in refined carbohydrates, while exercising for at least 30 minutes per day.

“Just taking standard medication did not control Richard’s diabetes well. It was not until he started to take control of his diet and lifestyle, and radically change his diet that his diabetes control improved, and from that time on, the improvement was rapid and sustained,” said Dr Charlotte.

“Richard did this essentially using his own powerful motivation and willpower, and doubtless seeing initial good results spurred him on to continue following his diet.

“I now tell all newly diagnosed diabetics (type 2 I would stress) that it is perfectly possible to reverse their diabetes, even if it has been diagnosed for some time longer.”

Richard Shaw has written a book about how he reversed his diabetes: ‘Conquer Type 2 Diabetes: How a Fat, Middle-Aged Man Lost 31kg and Reversed the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes’.


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