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The saving Australia diet

Can three experts take three Australian with Type two diabetes and reverse the condition with only food?

Tasmania's Tony Benneworth, NSW mum Cassandra Floyd and Perth resident Jack Merolla have volunteered to trial three separate diets with the guidance of nutrition experts who believe they can heal sufferers of type two diabetes without medication.

They are the faces of a national health crisis, with a new Australian being diagnosed every five minutes with the deadly disease.

Dr Michael Mosley, Chef and author Pete Evans and Dietician Alex Parker — along with medical physicians — will guide their new diets with three very different approaches.

Pete Evans will coach Tony in the ways of low-carb-healthy-fat eating, known as LCHF, while Alex Parker will teach Cass and her family to eat the Dietician's Association recommended diet, a high-fibre and low-GI approach.

Dr Mosley will follow his published 800 calorie diet with Jack, a fast-track diet designed to achieve rapid weight-loss in those diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

"The future of this country depends on us having an understanding of how we can actually get our next generations through hopefully without it escalating," Pete Evans said.

AGE 66

Tony was diagnosed with type two diabetes eight years ago
Tony was diagnosed with type two diabetes eight years ago

Former professional cricketer 65-year-old Tony has been a lifelong carb loader and is the heaviest of the trio at 121kg. He was diagnosed with type two diabetes eight years ago, but didn’t do anything about it.

"I can walk up town and walk past a window and see my dirty great big gut hanging out, and it’s stupid. I’ve got to do something about that, Tony said.

His Doctor Gary Fettke knows where Tony is headed and has helped design his new diet.

"Diabetes is the inability of a person to control the blood glucose as a result of how much glucose and carbohydrate they’ve eaten."

The damage this causes to the organs over a period of time can result in reduced blood flow to the extremities.

"I used to do one amputation every 6 to 12 months and now I’m doing one a week," the orthopedic surgeon said.

"[It is] from diabetes, it’s as simple as that."

For Tony to survive, keep all his limbs and avoid a lifetime of medication Gary’s convinced him to go “LCHF” with the help of Paleo ambassador Pete Evans.

"I have not met or heard of one person that has adopted this way of life that has not improved their life, that has not improved their vitality, how they feel, how they interact with their family, their loved ones, with themselves"

"Fat doesn’t make you fat if you eat it properly, now fats come in the most beautiful packages. Avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, eggs and then fats from the animals."

Tony will ditch his carb-heavy favorites for lots of vegetables, leafy greens and ditch the processed carbs he loves so much. This, incorporated with lean meat and those healthy fats will hopefully turn his prognosis around.

Different from Paleo, this diet does allow some dairy.

AGE 36

Cassandra before her diet
Cassandra before her diet

Sydney single mum of three, Cassandra Floyd is considered young for a Type 2 diabetic at just 36. She knows her fast-food and sugar-heavy diet is not only bad for her, but her kids also.

"I had no idea, It is only just since being diagnosed as a diabetic that I am learning how much sugar is in everything," Cassandra told Sunday Night.

"[I would] take kids to school, have a cup of coffee, have a cigarette… pick the kids up from school, have coffee, maybe a soft drink and then have a great big massive dinner because of not eating."

Managing a healthy diet and three kids is a challenge faced by millions of Australian every day and for Cass, she has no idea where to start.

Her Doctor Vishal Verma has been trying to get her to change her ways for years but it was daughters Isabelle Gabby and Shenay who made her take action.

"My girls are also now putting me first to and telling me, "mum you need to take time for yourself... mum you need to get yourself better'."

"If I don't change that now for them to become accustomed in their life, then they are only going to fall down the same path that I have fallen down"

Dietician Alex Parker is laying down the law for Cass' new routine, based on the current guidelines by the Dietitians Association of Australia.

"If you're having rice we want to keep it to about half a cup of cooked rice, or if we're having pasta it's about the same…then there's plenty of room on the plate to add vegetables and also get some of that lean protein."

AGE 50

Jack is pre-diabetic and has little time to turn his health around
Jack is pre-diabetic and has little time to turn his health around

Jack Merolla is a self–confessed sugar addict. He and wife Daniella and their two adult children live in Perth, WA.

"He can eat for two people. That's it. Chocolate is his obsession, ice cream as well."

"Italian, Mexican, Asian food, Any food he’ll eat," Daniella said.

Jack doesn’t look obese – but with Type two diabetes you don’t have to.

He’s what’s known as “skinny-fat”, thin on the outside and fat on the inside.

A full body 'DEXA' scan revealed just how much dangerous fat was surrounding his internal organs, putting him in the very high risk range.

“My doctor actually warned me, he said look you’re starting to head towards the diabetic stage, you’re pre-diabetic. You’ve got to start doing something about it," Jack said.

Jack’s family doctor Patrick Garratt has recommended the ‘8 week blood sugar diet’ to get him safely out of the pre-diabetic range

Devised Dr Michael Mosely, it is a strict limit just 800 calories every day from a Mediterranean diet.

"That basically means a diet which is fruit and veg, but also lots of oily fish, a glass of red wine lots of oily nuts and plenty of olive oil and occasional bits of dark chocolate"

"It's not easy but this is for pre-diabetics and diabetics so you're going to have to lose 10-15 percent of your body weight and that means you could be losing say 10 kilos."

While it might sound like a crash diet — and it is designed for rapid weight loss — Dr Mosley says it is different from a fad.

"It appears to be that rapid weight loss is the way to go but when I say rapid I don't mean super rapid. That's why I'm talking 800 calories. 800 calories is the lower end of normal."

It is, however, only a quarter of what Jack currently eats.

Stay tuned for Sunday Night's updates on Cass, Tony and Jack in coming weeks.

For more information about the above diets and experts visit the following sites:

Dr Gary Fettke — Orthopaedic surgeon

Pete Evans

Dr Vishal Verma – Kildare Rd Medical Centre

Alex Parker - Dietitian

Dr Michael Mosley
Medical Broadcaster

Dr Patrick Garratt

The May/June issue Diabetic Living is on sale in supermarkets and newsagents now, or click here for a special Sunday Night viewer offer - A year's subscription to Diabetic Living for only $33 - saving over 30% off the cover price.