The project has been a huge success and the results are clinically significant' said Ann Garry, one of the nutritional therapy team.
A collaborative, drug-free health project between a Home Counties GP practice and Zest4life, an expert health and wellbeing service provider who base their programme on my low GL guidelines, concluded last month with impressive results. Average weight loss for participants in the three month programme was over a stone, coupled with an 11% reduction in fasting blood sugar levels and a 12% reduction in total cholesterol levels.
The 21 patients at the start of the programme all had clinical markers indicating they were at 'high risk' of developing chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease and exhibited one or more of the following risk factors:
Impaired fasting glucose
Elevated glycosylated haemoglobin HbA1c (measures how well you have been balancing blood sugar over the previous 3 months)
Waist to hip ratio greater than 1 for men or 0.85 for women
Elevated blood pressure
Elevated LDL, and HDL and triglycerides outside target range
They took part in a specially adapted zest4life programme, based on low GL guidelines, for 12 weeks, meeting for 2 hours each week to receive expert nutritional guidance and motivational coaching from a team of zest4life Nutritional Therapists and Practice nurses from the GP practice. In addition to collectively losing 21 stone with a low GL diet and exercise, the blood test results for the group showed that their risk factors for diabetes/heart disease had substantially reduced. For some this will mean that medication will not be required and for others it has meant that they can begin to reduce the level of medication, under close GP supervision. As well as reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, participants rated themselves as having much more energy, reduced cravings, better sleep and more stable moods.
Harry weighed 19 stone 2 lbs at the start, his HbA1c was 6.8 and blood pressure was 131/84. By the end of twelve weeks he had lost 31 lbs and weighed 16 stone 13lbs, his HbA1c was down to 5.8 and his blood pressure was 116/66. His cholesterol ratio had also reduced from 4.2 to 3.7. He said 'My levels of energy have been noticeably higher even after only a few weeks and the health improvements in both my body and mind have given me the incentive to maintain these changes for life.'
Richard who participated in the project commented: 'I have never lost weight before whilst eating well and feeling fitter and more energetic. Definitely NOT a faddy diet.'
Such comments were representative of the whole group. Everyone felt they had gained significant benefit from the programme in a range of ways including improved energy levels, elevated mood/depression lifted, better sleep, less stress and anxiety and even improved confidence and self esteem. The GPs and practice nurses supporting the programme have been impressed with the results and plans are underway to determine how to take this forward.
The zest4life team of Nutritional Therapists who worked together to develop and run the programme consisted of: Fiona Grant, Helen Hodgson, Jacqui Mayes and Ann Garry. 'We have witnessed a dramatic transformation. In Week 1 of the programme the patient group appeared resigned and exhausted but over the weeks they became lively, energetic, engaged and positive and I am confident that they are now equipped with the knowledge to continue their journey to optimum health".
The group programme is continuing to support the participants in maintaining their new healthy habits. 'It has been a great team effort' said Ann Garry, 'it is so rewarding to see people making such great progress and move away from chronic disease towards long-term health'.
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