Strict regime: Richard Doughty followed a drastic diet
A family bereavement, high blood pressure, an unavoidable job change. I thought everything came in threes — but I was wrong. There was more bad news around the corner.
I was a fit 59-year-old and had just had an annual health check at my GP surgery. This revealed I had high blood sugar — 9millimoles per litre, whereas a normal level is 4-6mmol/l — and my doctor suggested I could have diabetes.
Further tests confirmed that, yes, I was type 2 diabetic. I was stunned. I have always been a healthy weight (I am 5ft 7in and just 10st 7lb), had no family history of diabetes, ate a healthy diet, never smoked, and I definitely did not have a sweet tooth.
Determined to find a solution, I began researching the condition and how to beat it.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to keep glucose levels normal (in type 1, the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether), and if I didn’t take action, I would be 36 per cent more likely to die early and could suffer bad sight, poor kidneys, heart failure and strokes. I’d also eventually be on medication.
My GP said that my diabetes was mild enough to be controlled through diet alone, and gave me a wad of leaflets on nutrition for diabetics. I took up salads, cut down on carbohydrates and ate my five-a-day — but progress was slow. Over seven months I shed a stone but my blood sugar was still too high — around 7mmol/l.
Not satisfied with this, further internet research threw up a more drastic approach. Scientists at Newcastle University had devised a radical low-calorie diet that studies suggested could reverse diabetes in under eight weeks.