Why the angst over the Newcastle cure?Published 1.20.2016
Why are low carbers so terrified of the results of Newcastle University's Roy Taylor’s research? Dr Taylor (who is a medical doctor, not some naturopath or PhD) studies type 2 diabetes (T2D) and has found that the condition can be reversed relatively quickly with an eight week low calorie diet. Reversed in that sentence means that the T2D sufferers regain normal blood glucose response and take NO drugs — and newsflash to all the low carb high fat (LCHF) shills out there, METFORMIN IS A DRUG. If you're taking metformin to control your blood glucose levels, your diet has neither reversed nor stopped the progression of the disease.
The Newcastle program is a TREATMENT for T2D— NOT a long term diet option. Consider this comparison: chemotherapy is horrible— but it's a short term TREATMENT for cancer. People don't stay on chemo forever. They go through the treatment and then resume their lives. The Newcastle diet is essentially an eight (8) week program during which dieters eat 800 calories a day. In its original form, 600 calories are in the form of a commercial liquid shake and 200 of them are supposed to come from non starchy vegetables (think cabbage and the like). The vegetable component is intended to help the digestive tract regular (so to speak). However, in presentations, Taylor notes that the 800 calories can all consist food— the main reason to go the shake route is to take most of the uncertainty out of the equation. Followers don't have to count calories or weigh food, they simply drink a shake three times a day and then have a moderate portion of (fat free) greens.
Ultimately, I intend to write up the research I've gathered about Roy Taylor and his work in much more detail. However, this bit of writing was inspired the tweets of several LCHF shills on Twitter who seem horrified that a possible cure has been identified for T2D and it doesn't involve the demonization of carbohydrates. The inspiration for the tweets was a Daily Mail article by Michael Moseley, who is at it again… with a new book this time touting a diet based Taylor’s research. Moseley's hook is that he demonstrates how the protocol could be accomplished without shakes. After reading, but not comprehending the Daily Mail article, one cranky low carber wrote this. Moseley wrote a second article detailing his 800 calorie per day meal plans, our low carb correspondent wrote this— removing any doubt that he'd remotely comprehended the first article.
Moseley's 800 calorie diet is high protein and relatively low carb. Making it high protein just means more people will be sated while on it. But there is NO requirement that it be low carb. If you can eat 800 cals on a high carb vegan diet and not gnaw your arm off, that would work too. FFS, a LIQUID DIET of 800 calories works!! Diet shakes would certainly NOT be a LCHF formulation.
It's not the macronutrients, it's the CALORIES, stupid.In 2015, Dr Taylor took part in an online Diabetes Summit. Much of what follows is drawn from the notes I took while watching. Taylor's hypothesis is that T2D is the result of fat storage in the pancreas. Remove the fat, and pancreatic cells (alpha and beta) return to normal function. His research began with observation with bariatric patients, who saw their blood sugars normalize and T2D diabetes reversed long before they had lost any significant weight. In the immediate aftermath of surgery, bariatric patients are put on a severely CALORIE restricted diet that is pretty high in protein. Protein is emphasized to minimize lean tissue mass loss.
Taylor began to wonder if the same effect (return to normal pancreatic function) could be induced without surgery, but with severe calorie restriction. And so he put to the test— and continues to do so. The LCHF shill response that this treatment is based on a single study of 11 people is a lie and a symptom of their fear that a simple, safe method to reverse T2D may eat into the profits from their own diet books and programs.
The original studies were done with type 2 diabetics who'd been diagnosed for four years or less. This was done to avoid the confounding effects of the long term complications. T2D is a progressive disease that wreaks havoc on the body over time. Study participants ate 600-800 calories for 8 weeks, apparently you can just do the three shakes if you'd like. The subjects were motivated and were not hungry, he reported. In fact, they found it easier to follow than most diets because it was so precisely prescribed. Three shakes a day, no need for further thought— and a clear and definite end point defined.
Note: The Optifast shakes used are not particularly low carb, in fact, Taylor stated that too much is made of diet composition, the issue is total calories. When asked why people are obese, Taylor's two word answer? "Too much." Not too much carbs, too much FOOD, period— we get fat because we eat too much.
Of course the subjects lost weight, AND glucose went back to normal—within 7 days. They used an MRI to measure the fat and glycogen levels in liver in real time. Over the rest of the eight weeks, the insulin response recovered, meaning that the beta cells recovered. At the same time, the fat level in the pancreas returned to normal. Taylor asserts that this is a revolution in the understanding of T2D— and it surely is.
Nor was this a one-off, Taylor and his group have repeated the results. What's even better is that people can and have done this themselves— Dr Taylor and Newcastle University present the entire program for FREE. In those (self-reported) results, the success rate is 60%, and if the weight loss is maintained, there is no relapse. Although the initial studies were done with relatively "new" T2 diabetics, subsequent research has looked at the effects for longer term sufferers. Not everyone sees a reversal, but greater than 50% do. To me, those odds are worth two months of a shake diet— especially for newly diagnosed T2Ds.
So why all the LCHF angst? True, a FREE program that results in T2D reversal means there's no reason to suffer being "a bit bunged up" with some shill's pricey diet plan. Still, once the short term treatment ends, these formerly T2 diabetics will need to eat in a way that will maintain the weight loss. Lower carb eating does help many people do that— there will still be a market to sell your books. Taylor, for the record is not anti-low carb, but does not think that low carb is required. What's required is that you eliminate the fat stores in your pancreas, then maintain a diet that doesn't cause excess fat to be stored there again.
I am (obviously) a huge fan of Dr Roy Taylor's research. Taylor's hypothesis is the only one that describes all of the characteristics of T2D sufferers. T2D does not result in every obese person— only those whose bodies store excess fat in the pancreas. Southeast Asian populations are afflicted with T2D at lower BMIs (as a population), Taylor would say that is because their genetics dictate that excess fat is stored in the pancreas at lower weights than is typical in Western populations.
As I say, I intend to write much more about this because it is crucially important and can potentially help a huge number of people. Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that affects all parts of the body. A potential simple and safe treatment for reversal should be celebrated and lauded, rather than feared.