New Zealand’s Ketotown

Our third podcast and episode features Dr Glen Davies. He’s a general practitioner from Taupo, New Zealand. Part of his accomplishments is fundamentally changing his medical practice and approaching it with whole lifestyle, not just a medicinal angle. Glen and his team have reversed T2 diabetes in 38 (and counting) patients and he is considered the mayor of New Zealand’s Ketotown!

(Watch this video with Dr Glen Davies – Does Taupo deserve the reputation as New Zealand’s Ketotown?)

What’s Good About The Health System

Host Grant Schofield starts with the basic question. And to answer, Dr Davies cites an example. In the case of a car accident, paramedics would turn up. They can then take the victims to an emergency department and the victim would recive “top quality care.” Should they need ICU or surgery, it would be provided.

However, the problem, according to Dr Davies, is with chronic care management.

What is Chronic Care Management?

In the words of Dr Davies, chronic care management “has everything to do with insulin resistance.” It’s about “obesity, overweight, type two diabetes, ischemic heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s,” Dr Davies adds. He also says it should be primary health care’s responsibility. However, the health care system remains to function much like an “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, rather than preventing these conditions.”

Lifestyle Medicine

A medical practitioner for 22 years, now in Taupo, it was 18 months ago that Dr Davies gravitated towards lifestyle medicine. Since then, his general practice changed dramatically. According to Dr Davies, there’s two types of medicine — pharmaceutical medicine and lifestyle medicine.

The first is what Dr Davies used to practice. He would make a diagnosis and then think about the best pharmaceutical drug to prescribe depending on the patient’s condition.

Now, Dr Davies does more than just make a diagnosis and prescribe a drug. He now asks his patients questions such as why the person developed the situation, what led them to that situation, a whole lot more “why” questions, until he can determine the root cause. He considers the person’s stress, their sleep, the cultural environment they’re in, their diet, and many other lifestyle factors. Dr Davies’ then gets the conclusion from all the “why’s” he asks.

The single biggest cause of most chronic health conditions is insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia. He also emphasizes that the key to understanding nutrition is to understand insulin resistance, its role, and the role of carbohydrates in causing insulin resistance.

The Problem of Low Insulin Levels

The problem is that people aren’t getting the right insulin levels for most of the day. In measuring insulin resistance, 0.45 can be considered normal but below 0.30 is considered as diabetes. 0.399 is insulin resistance. 86% of adults in the United States are insulin resistant. This is an epidemic.

Becoming the “Mayor” of the New Zealand Ketotown

In his practice now, instead of telling obese and diabetic patients they will need a transplant or an amputation, he tells them to take responsibility for their diet to turn it around and return their blood sugar to normal. He talks to them about a low-carb, healthy fat diet and explains they need to lower their insulin levels. Dr Glen explain how and why a ketogenic diet works and provides them with relevant resources and support.

Waitahanu: The New Zealand Ketotown

Nine kilometres south of Taupo is a small community called Waitahanu. It has about 100 families. The great thing about this small community is that the entire community has adopted a ketogenic diet. They’ve even developed their own keto-language. It’s no doubt the New Zealand Ketotown!

Keeping Insulin Levels Under Control

To control his insulin levels, Dr Glen Davies manages his carbohydrate intake. This maintains a level of ketosis between the seesaw of ketones and insulin. He says, “You can’t have high insulin and ketones and if you’ve got ketones you can’t have high insulin. That’s just a really simple way that I can monitor the main determinant of metabolic health, which is insulin.”

Listen to the full podcast here.