Online program helps rural Australians defeat diabetes

  • Neil Manuel from WA before and now

Neil Manuel from WA before and now

Every five minutes, someone in Australia is told they have type 2 diabetes. More than 1 in 20 Australians are now living with the condition that can cause life-threatening complications like heart disease and kidney disease, and it’s the leading cause of amputation. Those living in remote or regional areas are 1.5 times more likely to develop the condition and - shockingly - 2.5 times more likely to die from it.

However, Defeat Diabetes partner, Diabetes Australia, estimates almost 60% of cases can be prevented with changes to diet and lifestyle. So, the question remains: why are so many people still unaware of the causes and consequences of this condition?

Dr Peter Brukner OAM, the former Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Men's Cricket team and the Australian Olympic Athletics team, faced the same question. After leading what he thought was a ‘healthy life’, he developed pre-diabetes.

Shocked by the diagnosis, he embarked on a personal investigation to understand how could manage his condition beyond medication. He learned that a low carb approach - limiting food like bread, pasta and pastries - could help improve his symptoms.  He started lowering his carbohydrate intake, and within three months, the results astounded him. He reversed all metabolic abnormalities and lost 13 kg.

He has remained free of diabetes since then and has dedicated his life to studying the effect of high carbs on blood glucose. To share his experience and help the millions of Australians faced with the same diagnosis he once had, he launched a digital program, Defeat Diabetes.

Defeat Diabetes is a simple program that provides members with a weekly low carb meal plan and empowers them with education tools that show how carbs impact blood glucose levels and how simple diet changes—and not dieting—can enable them to lead a diabetes-free life.

Launched in 2021, Defeat Diabetes members have experienced life-changing results, including 82% have returned their blood glucose levels to the non-diabetes range, and 92% have lost weight.

Many have had type 2 diabetes for over 15 years and, like WA farmer Neil, choose to find an alternative to taking lifelong medication.

Neil’s type 2 diabetes diagnosis sent him searching online for a solution. He found Defeat Diabetes and decided to give it a try.

As a rural farmer in Arthur River, Western Australia, Neil, age 55, was always active. He never had health issues, wasn’t overweight, and hadn’t visited a doctor in years.

So it came as a huge shock when, after being urged to have a simple health check, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, along with fatty liver, high triglycerides and a high BMI (body mass index).

Looking back at all the symptoms I was experiencing, I’d just put them down to the natural aging process. Lethargy, tiredness, lack of energy, worsening eyesight, pins and needles in my feet, frequent urination and increased thirst.” Neil recalled.

“I was a little sceptical at first because the program suggested that by eating protein and healthy fat, I would want to eat less.  I thought NO WAY it would work for me because I’ve always been a big eater. No one will beat me in an eating competition!”

However, Neil’s HbA1c (a marker showing average blood glucose level over three months) went from 12.2 to 5.3 within a few months, signalling he had achieved remission from type 2 diabetes.

Recently, a partnership with Diabetes Australia was announced, and Defeat Diabetes is focused on helping healthcare professionals implement TCR in clinic.

Dr Anita Lowe, a Townsville GP, has transformed her clinical practice after discovering the benefits of Defeat Diabetes and low carb.

“In January 2023, I recalled my obese patients and those with type 2 diabetes with a new weight-loss approach. I used Defeat Diabetes as an allied health branch and did revised care plans, seeing 60 patients in the first two months.

"Just about everyone is now following the Defeat Diabetes Program. My patients lost on average 3-4 kg in the first month and 58% now have an HbA1c of <6.5."

Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, the Hon. Emma McBride MP says the disparity in Australia’s healthcare system is stark. “In Australia, the further you live outside a big city, the harder it is for you to access healthcare,” Assistant Minister McBride said.

With lifestyle therapies scarce in rural areas, online programs such as Defeat Diabetes can be life-changing for those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Defeat Diabetes has helped more than 10,500 people improve their blood glucose levels. With many achieving remission from type 2 diabetes. More than half of these members are from rural towns and communities in Australia.

Defeat Diabetes members share the same goal—improving their blood glucose levels. Armed with just a smartphone or computer, it is now achievable for all - regardless of where they live.

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