Hello, my name is Glen Davies. I am a practising GP, and current member of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine’s Board and New Zealand Chapter. After being inspired by Simon Sinek, who encourages us to be clear about our “why” – not solely focusing on “what” we do, and “how” we do it – I want to share with you my recent experiences of practising Lifestyle Medicine, within General Practice, in the small town of Taupo, New Zealand.

What

With a team of awesome volunteers, the Taupo Medical Centre has formed a group called “Reverse T2 Diabetes Taupo” (RT2D Taupo). This group supports interested community members to lose weight and reverse their type 2 diabetes.

Supported by the Taupo District Council, who provides us with meeting venues for free (using Marae as much as possible), we run a free meeting every Wednesday night for approximately 30 to 120 attendees. We also run larger community meetings with up to 350 in attendance, and facilitate a closed Facebook group with around 1700 members. Additionally, we supply articles for the local paper and radio, and have a comprehensive library containing useful textbooks and other resources.

How

RT2D Taupo is supported by the Taupo Medical Centre which runs a Lifestyle Medicine Clinic once per week, and supports patients to put their diabetes into remission. To date, 42 patients at TMC have put their diabetes or prediabetes into remission. There are many others from the RT2D Taupo group who have done the same but we have not been collecting statistics from the wider group.

We:

  • Educate and support members with Low Carb Healthy Fat and modified ketogenic approaches.
  • Promote a nutrition plan rich in above ground vegetables.
  • Strongly advise against added sugar and refined/processed carbohydrates.
  • Promote the use of natural fats, avoiding industrial seed oils and processed fats.
  • Emphasize the central role of hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance in the causation of overweight, obesity and diabetes.
  • Run regular beginner meetings and the Facebook group is used to publish videos from these meetings.
  • Recommend “What the Fat” by Prof Grant Schofield as a basic textbook.
  • Have two coaches if people are wanting to pay for additional support.

The most gratifying results have been seen in the Maori community. One particular community with 177 dwellings have fully adopted the “Keto Kaupapa”, and measure their weight loss in tons! They cater events at the Marae, LCHealthyF. They are growing communal gardens, have cleaned out the stream so watercress is growing, and are distributing food using traditional methods. Many community members hunt wild pigs and deer, and many are skilled fly fishermen. At the Kura/school, processed food items are replaced with “healthy options” – Kapai Kai – and the unhealthy food item is sent home.

I have noticed a significant change in the Taupo Community, with nutrition being the topic on everyone’s lips. When I eavesdrop on conversations in cafes, I am hearing many conversations about “macros” net vs total carbs, label reading, and exercise.

I became obsessed with the concept of reversing diabetes after A/Prof John Stevens shared the Direct Trial, and after seeing the work of David Unwin in the UK using a LCHF Diet. Then, a patient who had reversed several of his own chronic health conditions with nutrition, plonked a pile of books on my desk and demanded I read them.

For me personally in my role as a GP, I offer every patient the opportunity to reverse their chronic disease (i.e. diabetes, pre-diabetes, NAFLD, hypertension, gout) without medication or to reduce and hopefully stop their medications. I also discuss the importance of nutrition in cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship. I measure fasting insulin and fasting glucose, and use an online calculator called QUICKI (Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index) to determine the degree of insulin resistance. I find this an important educational tool.

My patients are universally grateful to be offered the opportunity for lifestyle change. Patients who take up the challenge seem to feel empowered. Many are losing weight without being hungry, and are maintaining their weight loss. I recorded weight loss stats on the first 100 patients, and they lost weight at 1.2kg per week. Prior to learning about the importance of hyperinsulinemia and the need to restrict carbs, I can not recall a single case of diabetes reversal. Now I consider it usual practice to reverse diabetes, and often find that those who are unable to stop insulin are actually type 1 diabetes, often LADA.

Why

I find joy in the consultation. That joy is the reason I practise medicine. I consider the role of a doctor to be an enormous privilege. I value the opportunity I have to serve my community. I find the joy has increased now that I have a more complete understanding of the determinants and drivers of chronic disease, and a highly effective tool (low carb healthy fat and ketogenic diets) to add to my Lifestyle Medicine tool kit.

This is my personal experience of practising Lifestyle Medicine in my small community.

Lifestyle Medicine provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, whole-system approach to the prevention and reversal of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases through the modification of behavioural, social and environmental drivers. If you support this approach to healthcare, help us advance its impact by joining the movement.

Join the movement
Attend our conference