Dr David Unwin, 62, has seen more than 100 Type 2 diabetes sufferers put their disease into remission thanks to his suggestions. An anti-sugar campaigner and family GP, he admitted he used to dish out drugs to sufferers daily until a woman confronted him in his surgery. He said: “Up until 2012 I had not seen Type 2 drug-free remission on a single occasion. I didn’t know it was possible.
“A patient came in, she was absolutely furious at being put on lifelong medication unnecessarily. She had gone low-carb and stopped her diabetes medication, showing they were no longer needed.
“It was incredible. I looked into it and had an epiphany. I realised I had been failing my patients for years by swallowing the conventional wisdom that we have to medicate our way out of this chronic illness without stopping to think about its actual cause.”
The extraordinary results at Norwood Surgery in Southport, Merseyside, have changed people’s lives and saved the cash-strapped NHS tens of thousands of pounds.
The practice is now spending almost £60,000 less on diabetes drugs each year than the average for other surgeries in the area.
Dr Unwin encourages his patients to eat lots of green veg, meat, fish, eggs, full fat milk, cream and cheese – foods that do not push blood sugar up.
Forbidden foods include starchy products like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, crisps, cake and chocolate.
Dr Unwin’s simple graphic showing how everyday popular foods affect blood-sugar has been downloaded millions of times across the world.
But official NHS guidelines still state meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, despite mounting evidence they do more harm than good.
Dr Unwin said: “I had an awful lot to learn but the more I studied this disease and the methods to beat it without using medication the more enlightened I became. I used to follow conventional guidelines and blame my patients if what I gave them didn’t work.
“But I can no longer look myself in the mirror if I blithely prescribe drugs, knowing I can help people help themselves.”
Diabetes now costs the NHS £15billion a year. Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes for the NHS in England, said: “We already knew for men over 40, in particular, the risk of Type 2 steadily increases with age so it is crucial people in this group check their risk and get the right support.”
Comment by Dr David Unwin
I am an oldish GP who has looked after my local population of about 9,000 people north of Liverpool since 1986.
A few days ago I was so excited to meet my 100th patient to achieve drug-free remission of Type 2 diabetes.
A lady who only a few months ago thought her diabetes was a chronic, deteriorating condition is medication-free with a normal blood-sugar. A beacon of hope in a very dark world.
When I started here as a young GP 35 years ago there were just 57 people with diabetes in our practice. It was quite a rare illness, as was the obesity it is so often associated with.
Also, it affected older people. This is important as Type 2 does its damage via raised blood-sugar as a function of time. So older people have less time for damage to accrue.
By 2012, diabetes was no longer rare. Individuals were decades younger including one just 10 years old.Amputations, heart disease and blindness were common.
My answer was ever more drugs to cut blood-sugar. Then in 2012 I saw my first case of drug-free remission of Type 2.
She worked out it was logical to cut not just sugar but also the starchy foods like cereals, rice and bread that digest down into large amounts of sugar. Instead she ate more red meat, fish, eggs and dairy with loads of green veg.
She had lost 10 percent of her body weight and looked terrific.
My practice has repeated this 100 times, saving £60,000 per year on drugs.
We have published our results but the best bit is seeing people properly well.
A disclaimer: if you are on prescribed drugs for your diabetes, it is important to discuss diet with your prescriber before making major changes.