The NHS is now offering a special low-calorie diet to approximately 5000 patients with type 2 diabetes. Participants in the programme will be restricted to consume only 800 calories a day in liquid forms, such as soups and shakes for a three months period in a bid to reverse their condition.
Anna Green shared her concerns to Voice of London: “I am 38 years old, I’ve been ill for almost all my life. I really want to take this opportunity, but I am afraid that it will be really unhealthy to only intake a very low amount of calories and only in drinks. Three months is a very long time!”
Jo Travers, a registered dietitian with a First Class BSc (Hons) in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, told Voice of London:
“The answer is sometimes it can be healthy and sometimes not. It really depends on your health perspective. For some people, their diet, weight and conditions like diabetes are severely affecting their health and wellbeing to the point where following a low-calorie diet for three months is preferable. It has been shown to significantly improve blood sugar management in some people. The meal replacements are nutritionally complete meaning that all the necessary food groups and micro-nutrients needed for health are contained within the 800kcal. This is very difficult to get in 800kcal of normal food. However, this diet must be managed by a qualified health professional who will follow-up regularly with the client to monitor and health and wellbeing issues that may arise”.
Even though the diet has been scientifically proven to help bring sufferers of type 2 diabetes into remission, Jo Travers issued this warning:
“This kind of diet is not healthy for everyone though. Although it is well balanced in terms of nutrients, nutrition is not the only factor that should be considered. It is very hard to follow this kind of diet, and not everyone will be suitable”.
This programme has been initiated on the back of the results from last years trial, where almost 50% of participants put their diabetes into remission. Additionally, the number of people who suffer from diabetes is growing every year. Isobel Murray lost more than four stones (25kg) in 17 weeks and no longer needs diabetes medication. She said: “You have to be fired up, you have to be prepared, but anybody can do it if you feel strongly enough.”
The programme is only suitable for type 2 diabetes because it is strongly linked to being overweight or obese. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and can’t be treated this way.
Words and graphs: Victoria Naumova | Subbing: Katherine Cenaj