It was inspiring to hear Dr David Unwin the @lowcarbgp give a presentation to the Leicester Medical Society. The topic was how Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed without using medication, but by offering people the choice of different lifestyle changes, particularly low carb eating approaches.
Dr Unwin is an inspiring character who was able to communicate a simple message from a humble and self-aware viewpoint. He started off by telling the different medical practitioners packed into the lecture theatre at University of Leicester, that doctors don’t know everything, and that simply proscribing medication is not good enough.
Listening to Dr Unwin’s story, of how he changed from a cynical view of general practice, to one that he is now passionate about, it was striking that he was advocating not only a change in medical practice and received wisdom about dietary guidelines, but he was also advocating a community development approach in which patients are involved in the process of change rather than simply being objects of medical attention.
It’s well worth finding out more about Dr Unwin’s story, and how his approach has made significant changes in his practice in Formby. Not only has the drugs bill gone down, but the feeling of joy that comes from people helping themselves as a community has gone up.
The debate about carbohydrates as a staple of western diets is discussed in many places online and via social media. I first started using the low carb topic with my students four years ago, when I needed a campaign theme for an advocacy approach for social media.
What struck me at the time, was that social media is a powerful tool that is capable of both reinforcing poor advice and information, while simultaneously offering opportunities for promoting change and awareness of issues that challenge received views and habits.
The point is that we cannot afford either the human or the financial cost of the obesity and diabetes epidemic. In Dr Unwin’s practice alone, there has been a tenfold rise in the number of people with Type 2 diabetes over the last twenty years.
The food environment that we live in is toxic and is damaging our health. The problem is that it is a slow-burn problem, with bad habits formed in our teens and twenties, but only displaying evidence of the problem in our forties and fifties.
Dr Unwin’s account of how he has taken simple, cost-effective measures to turn around attitudes to nutrition and health advice, are gathering support from clinical and medical practitioners across the world. With the rise of social media its possible to maintain networks of progressive advocates for food change, away from the exploitative industrial food cultures that are causing so much damage.
What I’m interested in, is how we can form grassroots, community-led networks that are able to talk about and share our experiences, so that people who have learnt from the practice of switching to a non-industrialised, low-carb way of living can help others?
One way to do this is to organise a regular podcast – so if anyone is interested in meeting on a regular basis to discuss low carb issues, social wellbeing issues and dealing with diabetes, obesity and other problems to do with modern food attitudes, please get in contact.