‘Before diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes there is a long silent scream from the liver’

Dr. David Unwin, a.k.a. @LowCarbGP, is a standout among my Health Sherpas. Over the last 9 years he has revolutionized his National Health Service practice just north of Liverpool, England by encouraging patients with Type 2 diabetes to adopt a low-carbohydrate diet.

More than 100 of these patients have been able to reverse their diabetes and get off their diabetes medications.

Before his low-carb change, he had never seen that happen among his patients.

Not even once.

In the video below, Dr. Unwin shares several of those patient examples, as well as research that supports the assertion of his colleague, Professor Roy Taylor, which is the title of this post and of the video.

Some of Dr. Unwin’s key nuggets:

  • Type 2 diabetes, raised triglyceride levels and abnormal liver function are linked to each other and to increased mortality.
  • 24% of the patients in his practice had abnormal liver function (GGT) tests, and 32% had an abnormal triglyceride result.
  • For several years he would watch these lab results with a feeling of helplessness because while he knew these patients were at higher risk of both cardiovascular disease and death, he didn’t really know what to do to help them. Statins, which are often prescribed for high cholesterol levels, don’t really help with triglycerides.
  • High triglyceride levels and low HDL-cholesterol are strong predictors of a poor outcome with COVID-19.
  • 25% of the developed world has Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
  • 3.3 million people have died of COVID-19 worldwide in the last 18 months. 4.2 million die of diabetes every year.
  • He then shows the example of a patient with diabetes, high triglycerides and abnormal liver function, and that cutting carbohydrates fixed all three problems. He also details why this works.
  • High carbohydrate diets not only lead to fat accumulation in the liver and pancreas, but even in the tongue, which could be responsible for sleep apnea.
  • Many patients with fatty liver are dismayed to be treated with suspicion by their physicians, who believe the patients must be consuming excessive alcohol. In reality, the fatty liver in these patients is due to an excess of carbs.
  • Dr. Unwin has developed infographics to help patients identify which foods have high carb loads, and what the equivalent teaspoons of table sugar would be in each.
  • Finally, he shares compelling data from his practice, showing the improvements in triglycerides, HDL-c, liver function, weight and HbA1c after patients adopt a low-carbohydrate diet.

Dr. Unwin is unfailingly polite and understated in his delivery, which makes his conclusions all the more compelling.

I believe you’ll find this video well worth your time to watch and listen.

For more of his wisdom, see Dr. David Unwin on Cutting Carbs.

Building on our last few years’ experience and the results of our health journey, my wife Lisa and I are launching a new health-related venture next month, working with a friend who is a family physician. He shares Dr. Unwin’s concern about metabolic syndrome and his passion for equipping patients in making diet and lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve their health.

If you’re interested in learning about it, send me an email and I’ll be in touch to give you a preview.

Attacking the Axis of Illness through a Ketogenic Diet

While a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet has been increasingly recognized as an effective way to lose weight, and while weight loss may be the initial motivation for many to embrace it, the health benefits are much broader and deeper than just weight loss.

As David Harper, Ph.D. says in the video below, keto benefits beyond weight loss include:

  • Lower blood triglycerides and higher HDL cholesterol
  • Reversing insulin resistance, making blood sugar and insulin more stable
  • Less systemic inflammation and pain, and
  • Improved energy, stamina and flexibility.

He also highlights several diseases for which strong evidence exists showing that a ketogenic diet is beneficial, as well as others for which the evidence is emerging.

The money quote…

I actually think that all of these chronic diseases…are all the same thing…. I think in the next 10 years you’re going to see a lot of medical research looking at the mitochondria…and that’s where we’re going to find the root cause of chronic disease.

Dr. Harper also presented an interesting graphic that illustrates how a high-carbohydrate diet drives insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity and resulting chronic disease.

Finally, he shares information about a study in which he is involved that is using a ketogenic diet in addition to customary therapies in women with breast cancer, and shows PET scans of these patients who have seen reduction in tumor size and extent.

Dr. Harper is the author of a book called BioDiet: The Scientifically Proven, Ketogenic Way to Lose Weight and Improve Health, which I ordered based on this presentation (as well as favorable reviews from two of my Health Sherpas, Nina Teicholz and Maria Emmerich) and expect to receive today.

Well worth your time to watch:

I retired in August from leading Mayo Clinic’s social media program to start a new venture with my wife Lisa and a family physician friend I’ve known since high school. 

He has been interested in metabolic syndrome for more than 20 years, and with nearly nine of ten of Americans having at least one marker of metabolic ill health, he sees this as the major health challenge we face as a society.

Our mission is to help people take control of their own health through lifestyle changes. A low-carbohydrate diet as Dr. Harper describes is one key element.

I was motivated to launch this venture by our health journey from the last few years. Lisa and I have each lost more than 50 lbs. and maintained that weight loss for 18 months (so far). 

For the last 10 months or so we’ve been coaching others in making similar changes, and they’ve experienced great results too. 

We also have medical lab test results that show significant health improvements, and we feel better than we have in 20 years. It was really rewarding to see people we were coaching turning back the clock on their health, and I found myself saying, “I’d like to do this full-time.”

As it turns out, I can.

That’s why I say my August retirement was really instead the beginning of a third career. I worked at Mayo Clinic for 21 years in health care media relations and social media, after 14 years in politics and government.

I hope my third career will be longer and have more impact than either of the first two. 

We’re currently in the Alpha phase of development, as we plan to offer educational resources, online community support and individual and group coaching.

If you’re interested in being one of our Alpha members who will help us shape and refine the services, send me an email and I’ll be in touch to give you a preview.

Introducing the SHSMD Social Media Network

With my retirement from Mayo Clinic last month we decided that the time had come to sunset the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. I had envisioned and launched #MCSMN in 2011 as a connection hub and learning space about social media in health care for not only Mayo Clinic staff but also colleagues nationally and even worldwide.

All of the services were available to Mayo Clinic staff at no charge, while external members had both free and paid options. We also hosted annual conferences on health care social media, and even international conferences in Australia (Brisbane and Melbourne) and Dubai, United Arab Emirates and two virtual conferences with the Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD).

We had a good run with #MCSMN and it aligned with Mayo Clinic’s history and values, but with my retirement it was time to reassess whether it should be a priority for my successor. Social networking and social media is important for health care organizations, but hosting an external social media network for health professionals isn’t exactly Mayo Clinic’s core business.

As a membership organization of the American Hospital Association, this IS very well aligned with the SHSMD mission.

Many members of #MCSMN expressed interest in having a space to stay connected, and so I’m glad to announce that SHSMD has established the SHSMD Social Media Network to meet this need.

I’m committing to participating regularly, and I hope you will join and help to create a vibrant and mutually supportive community.

How to Join

If you’re already a member of the broader SHSMD community it’s easy to join: just go here and once you’re logged in, click the Join Group button at the top.

Everyone who participated in the #MayoSHSHMD Virtual Conference this year already has a SHSMD membership!

For those who didn’t, SHSMD Executive Director Diane Weber has gotten the AHA IT team to create a mechanism so non-SHSMD members (even our international colleagues) can participate in this group within the SHSMD community too, but it takes a few additional steps.

If you’re not currently a member of SHSMD:

  1.  First set up a FREE account with the American Hospital Association (SHSMD is part of AHA) by clicking on Register/Login Button, then “Create an Account” at aha.org.

2.      Log in at shsmd.org using your new credentials.

3.      Click this link to sign up for the community.  It will seem like a checkout cart with $0 purchase.

Once you have completed those steps, go to the SHSMD – Social Media Network group and click the Join Group button.

I hope my health care colleagues with an interest in social media will take advantage of this opportunity to stay connected and continue growing together.

Starting My Third Career

I’m pleased to announce, now that I have retired from leading Mayo Clinic’s social media program, that the third career I’m starting today will build significantly upon that experience.

I am affiliating with Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, a Top 10 communications firm nationally and one in which my good friend and colleague Reed Smith is Vice President, Digital Strategy. Here’s the news release and my profile on the Jarrard site.

As I discussed with Reed and Chris Boyer in the touch point podcast released this morning, the of counsel role with Jarrard will give me an opportunity for continued thought leadership as well as engagement in interesting projects on behalf of clients.

That role also will give me flexibility to pursue another project that is a personal passion for Lisa and me: helping people restore their metabolic health.

Those who’ve been following my blog and social media accounts will know that Lisa and I have been on a health journey for the last four years.

We’ve each lost more than 50 lbs. and have kept it off. More importantly, we feel healthier and have more energy than we did 20 years ago, and our medical lab test results attest to our restored health.

Since I have been blogging about My Health Journey, Lisa and I have had opportunities to do some informal health coaching with interested readers, and they’ve gotten significantly positive results, too. My #BodyBabySteps page has some of the highlights of our approach, which we are further refining in partnership with a family physician friend.

We want to be able to expand this to reach and help more people, and we’re developing a venture to do just that.

We want to help people turn back the clock on their health.

Maybe even feel healthier than they can remember.

We aren’t ready to announce the venture yet, but in addition to my Jarrard work we will be busy working out the program details in the coming months.

Let’s just say in addition to coaching we will have an online community component, so my social media experience will be important in this part of my third career as well.

If you’re interested in being one of our early participants to help us formulate the program, send me an email and we can discuss.

Be well.

The #MCSMN Story (11): Audio Companion

Just out this morning is a discussion with Chris Boyer and Reed Smith on their touch point podcast as we review and share memories from the last 10+ years.

As they titled it, “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: A Conversation with Lee Aase”

It was great to swap stories with these guys who were part of our original External Advisory Board, contributors to Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care, and who were in our 2014 Class of #MCSMN Platinum Fellows.

If you’ve enjoyed this series I think you’ll find our discussion interesting too.