What epidemic are we really dealing with?

Monday, 7 September 2020

Earlier this summer, it was announced people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes would be able to self-refer to specialist support services in a bid to curb this disease and  one of the biggest risk factors in Covid-19 deaths. The intervention of “support” is  a soup-and-shake diet weight-loss plan. 

These “meal replacements” are packed full of artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and gums. These very ingredients that play havoc with our gut microbiome and blood sugar levels. In addition to well-established risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including predisposition, poor physical activity, high consumption of refined and processed carbohydrates, an altered configuration of the microbial community in our gut – the microbiota – is also linked to type 2 diabetes - and what causes this "altered configuration"? yup- artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and refined foods! 

Referred to as Non Nutritive Sweeteners (NNSs), defined as sweetening agents that have a higher sweetening intensity and lower calorie content - frequently several hundred thousand times sweeter than sucrose! And yes, are calorie free - BUT super sensitise the sweet taste receptors buds and cause a rise in insulin and blood sugar driving the  very development of glucose intolerance and the path directly to T2D!

Let's review:

A third of people who died in hospital with the virus had diabetes, according to Public Health England data, and more than 12.3 million people in the UK are at risk of developing the disease. Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10 billion a year and as Prof Tim Spector points out in his new book Spoon-Fed, trainee doctors on a 5-year training programme in diabetes and endocrinology only receive 60 mins training  on diet and nutrition!!!!!! This is jaw droppingly bad!

Can we just stop! And apply some connected thinking here….

We have an obesity epidemic that is at the very centre of our failing health as a nation - rather than getting people hooked on “fake” foods and nutrient poor substitutes (funded by massive food corporations!), why oh why can’t we connect the dots and educate, reach out to communities that have been identified (the diet programme will be rolled out initially in 10 areas of England that are the very same areas threatened with local COVID lockdown - coincidence? I don’t think so!) and teach them about good nutrition and cooking skills?And finally get GP’s and specialists trained in nutrition. 

The last two weeks we’ve been inundated with headlines instilling fear and panic, with headlines like these “Coronavirus: 'Critical moment' as students return to university” - "massive increase in COVID cases", strongly advising students to stay away from city centres and their social networks, veiled with the threat of a second lock down if they don’t comply.

Well -  let's at the very least compare apples with apples shall we - what is a case?  in the world of infectious diseases, a ‘case’ represents someone with symptoms, severe symptoms, severe enough to be admitted to hospital. What we are calling a case currently, and the numbers that spool across our TV screens is the result of a swab or antigen where that person has severe symptoms or not and we know neither of these tests are not without their failings. The swab( which is PCR) just identifies a genetic sequence. A sequence that’s common to the spike protein of the CoVID virus. It doesn’t tell you if you’re "infected". The antibody tests: the immune system makes different types of antibodies and most tests just measure one of these. 

I am not belittling of disrespecting families individual loss of loved ones, it's devastating to lose a friend, family member or colleague - but while the number of new confirmed "cases" of coronavirus has been rising again, deaths have continued to fall since a peak of 974 in mid-April to between 15 and 4 a day from mid July, September daily figures ranging between 10 and and 4 daily deaths.

Yes, the younger age group may well be the biggest “carriers”, but what is the biggest cause of those when they become infected to have such poor outcomes - is where we need to focus. 

The social and economic impacts of the national lock down has been devastating - and will take a decade to recover. The mental health impact on vulnerable communities and the younger generation is also strikingly obvious, and threatening local lock downs, the re-closure of schools and  imposing social distancing measures of not being allowed to meet with more than 6 of their friends  that changes the fabric of their social networks is not the answer -  we are literally shooting the messenger! instilling fear and isolation in the process. 

Let's get our head out of the sand, address the real issues here: -

- Target the harmful effects of junk / refined foods and shout from the rooftops. We will not accept health care professionals to remain ignorant about nutrition and face that this epidemic of obesity has a direct correlation to our immune system and health as a nation. 

- Positively encourage healthy "well" people to get back to life and socialising, and the government prioritises building immune resilience through diet and lifestyle are the very centre of their agenda.