Sterling Robertson is in his early 60’s and lives in Farnborough, England.
As a regional sales manager for a payments company, Sterling is busy and on the road a lot. Part of this lifestyle means that he frequently has to eat away from home.
In 2007 Sterling suffered a heart attack, and in May 2016 he was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic with an HbA1c of 63 mmol/mol. His quality of life was suffering and the list of prescription medication was growing year on year.
Sterling had low energy levels, daily exhaustion, and an overall sense of concern about the future. He could not walk more than about a mile without becoming exhausted. Coupled with this he was on 5 prescription medications every day. The prognosis from his doctor was that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease that will need ‘careful monitoring’.
“After suffering a heart attack all those years ago, being given the diabetes diagnosis was just brutal, all I knew was that I wouldn’t just accept the diagnosis and that there had to be a way to fight this – and I was prepared to do whatever I had to do to get rid of it; the pills I was taking were giving me all sorts of problems from having to go to the toilet frequently, headaches, and complete exhaustion – it just wasn’t sustainable at all.”
Sterling’s words were completely consistent with his tenacious character, and for many months he sought answers from the medical profession for a solution but didn’t get many answers. There were changes such as a switch in diabetes medication from metformin to gliclazide, due to severe side effects but little else. This was symptom management at best, not a treatment.
In August 2016 Sterling was introduced to Adam Stevens of Intelligent Eating via a mutual friend with a view to assessing and potentially improving health, and quality of life.
“When I first was introduced to Sterling, I spoke to him at length informally over the telephone; I could tell in his voice that he was a real fighter; he was not scared nor worried but seeking answers and only fearful of being neglected by the medical profession. I think the concern if any was having to eat a diet that would be ‘as boring as being dead’! I said that this won’t be the case at all! I told him that he now has a choice, and that is his choice to make not mine. I explained that he was lucky to be alive and should consider his scenario is fortunate, not unfortunate as for many with a lesser medical history would not be here to have this conversation. I told him immediately that he’s a survivor.”
Type 2 diabetes doesn’t kill people instantly; it is more of a progressive disease if the cause isn’t addressed whereas heart disease can, and does present frequently in the form of sudden death (35% of vulnerable plaque rupture results in sudden death). Sterling is lucky to be alive and fortunately able to be in a position to make a choice. Prior to learning of Intelligent Eating, Sterling, like so many people were not aware that there was a choice.
An initial detailed consultation took place on 25th August 2016 with his GP being informed of the intended intervention and the intended outcome. The GP was optimistic yet cautious of such radical improvements in health as outlined in Sterling’s health goals.
The health goals were:
Reduce the HbA1c to under the current NICE threshold of 48 mmol/mol so that type 2 diabetes disease classification was eliminated and ideally gliclazide medication could be terminated.
Improve energy levels and remove lethargy, particularly during peak business hours.
Increase exercise tolerance.
Remove diabetes ‘pins and needles’ tingling in hands, feet, and legs – particularly while sitting. (diabetic neuropathy)
Improve mental health, specifically outward mood and mindset.
Meeting weekly or bimonthly for 2-3 hours with Intelligent Eating, Sterling was provided with extensive nutritional counselling and support. Initially, the role of Intelligent Eating was one of educator, yet as the programme progressed the role became more one of support and mentor.
Sterling’s results were remarkable and almost instantaneous; positive results came within days.
Positive results came so quickly because the first session focused almost exclusively on understanding what had caused the disease. When a thorough explanation of the cause of a disease is presented, and understood there are clarity and certainty. For Sterling, like so many, certainty is essential for progress, particularly when so little had been offered previously.
“After understanding exactly what I had done over the years to cause the disease, I could start to understand a solution. Whilst initially I didn’t understand the full solution, knowing the cause gave me absolute certainty that I could make positive differences and this quickly manifested into a near immediate improvement in my mood. If only my doctor had the time to explain exactly what this disease was then maybe I could have helped myself earlier!”
Changes were made to Sterling’s diet and resources provided so that he could easily create meals for himself whilst on the road – a big part of his initial concerns. He became a complete hero of himself, really taking onboard all the advice and implementing it immediately. Absolutely, he missed certain foods initially but he discovered new foods and meals as well as ways to eat out healthily. Very quickly it all became second nature to him.
After 6 days Sterling noticed that he could comfortably sit cross-legged without the pins and needles occurring in his lower legs and feet. This was a big win and a quick one. It’s likely that this was an initial result of vasodilatation from the foods he was now eating. His moods were vastly improved and the exhaustion had almost completely gone. His weight decreased quite significantly, 2kg (4lbs) in 6 days – more than was expected but he was not hungry not feeling lethargic. The vasodilatation affected all his organ systems and his thinking became clearer as well as his exercise tolerance; this is typical of increased perfusion. Within a week Sterling was able to walk 5 miles without feeling exhausted.
Often weight can drop quickly initially once the glycogen stores around the liver have been exhausted and the diet no longer contains extremely rich processed foods. The fat stores simply disappear; Sterling was never hugely overweight but it was deemed that a target weight loss would be around 5kg (11lb) over 3 months. The main purpose of this was to reduce pressure on the heart and be able to lower the dose or remove the dose of blood pressure lowering medication.
Weight and blood pressure tend to correlate very closely and so it makes sense to lower weight when appropriate rather than look to medication – this approach is apparently different to the GP intervention typically from anecdotal reports.
After 1 month Sterling was looking much more healthy and energetic, friends and coworkers were making comments about his positive aura and he was being told repeatedly “you look good, are you on a diet?” – His response was always the same, “I’m getting rid of diabetes”. Of course, not everyone believed his response, but sure enough after a month Sterling had lost 3kg, his systolic blood pressure had reduced by 8 points and he said he felt 10 years younger.
On the 25th of October 2016, Sterling had a blood test at the diabetic clinic in Aldershot, Hampshire; tests for HbA1c and lipids (cholesterol) were checked as well as liver function and thyroid function. On the 4th of November 2016, he received the results.
The results were amazing, his HbA1c showed 42 mmol/mol, well under the 48 mmol/mol threshold for type 2 diabetes but more importantly than that, he had his life back. The weekend prior to his bloodwork, Sterling had a city break weekend away with his partner and clocked up walking 22 miles over 3 days, a huge improvement.
Sterling left a voicemail at the office as soon as he had his results – the emotion in his voice was something words can not describe.
All health goals were met in 2 months,
HbA1c was down from 63 to 42 mmol/mol.
Weight was down 6.5kg (14lb).
Energy levels were increased to levels of 30 years prior.
Exercise tolerance was increased significantly.
Exhaustion was negligible.
All type 2 diabetes symptoms eliminated.
All medications reduced or removed.
In Sterling’s words:
“I went to the diabetic clinic on Friday afternoon (4th Nov.) to get my results, they were running about 20 minutes late, which was frustrating, to say the least. I used to dread coming [here] for my results but on that occasion I just knew it would be the last time so I wanted to see for myself the changes I’d made, and then go and celebrate!
When the nurse told me the results, I wasn’t surprised but I was extremely pleased – it was a complete victory all round, the nurse hugged me and congratulated me; it was truly emotional stuff. I was taken off the gliclazide medication for diabetes and asked to return annually to make sure I’m doing ok. I drove home that afternoon and the traffic was particularly bad – I was phoning everyone with my handsfree telling them the news!
The greatest thing is that none of the efforts I’d put in to achieve my health goals were particularly difficult. Actually, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m now a master of preparing my own delicious meals, and have a few signature dishes which get me invited to a lot more socials!
My advice to anyone with type 2 diabetes is to get in touch with Intelligent Eating now, not later. I don’t fully know the long-term effects of type 2 diabetes and fortunately it’s not something I need to be concerned with anymore. I am so grateful to have my life back, and beyond that, to be in total control – something that 3 months ago seemed nothing more than a dream.”
Sterling’s case report is currently under review for submission with a view to publication in Early 2017 with Diabetes Journals diabetesjournals.org ,Pubmed ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc , and the British Medical Journal casereports.bmj.com/ as an example of HbA1c reduction through dietary intervention only. No other lifestyle factors were officially recommended nor advised.