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RCGP releases new type 2 diabetes e-learning module

By Editor
27th June 2018
Type 2 diabetes, Type 2 prevention

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has released an online course exploring low glycaemic-index (GI) diets in type 2 diabetes.

The 30-minute e-learning module ‘Type 2 Diabetes – a Low GI Approach’ is for healthcare professionals and has been written by Southport-based GP Dr David Unwin and diabetes.co.uk.

The module describes the use of a low GI diet as an adjunct treatment for diabetes, using a case study of a real person with the condition registered at the author’s practice. The physiology and evidence behind a low glycaemic-index diet are described, as well as how to implement it in real life.

It was released on Tuesday, June 26, and is aimed at GPs, practice nurses, diabetes specialists nurses and other healthcare professionals working in primary care interested in helping people living with type 2 diabetes.

Dr Dirk Pilat, medical director for e-learning at the RCGP, said: “Discussions around lifestyle modification are an important part of the care and advice primary care practitioners give their patients with diabetes. This course discusses the role of carbohydrates and the glycaemic index in our diet and specifically its importance for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

“It reminds primary care health professionals about basic physiological concepts such as glycolysis, gluconeogenesis and lipolysis and their role in diabetes. Using real world examples, it discusses the importance of a low-gi diet for patients affected by diabetes and how to maximise the potential of lifestyle modification to create patient impact.”

Broken down into three sessions, the 30-minute online course starts with a baseline assessment of the professional’s knowledge, skills and attitudes relating to diabetes and a low-carbohydrate diet and finishes with a 10 question quiz to assess understanding of material from the module.

The module educates on the benefits of a lower carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes and uses case studies to illustrate this. Alongside an overall introduction to low GI, Dr Unwin looks at the practicalities of a low carb diet. The e-learning module includes:

  • Basic biochemistry of glucose metabolism, how starchy carbohydrates like bread or rice break down into glucose and what insulin does with that glucose e.g. it switched off fat burning, pushing glucose into not just muscle but also abdominal fat and liver cells, here excess glucose becomes fat and triglyceride. We can burn fat for fuel but not in the presence of insulin.
  • Insulin resistance.
  • HbA1c – what is it and why is it raised in diabetes?
  • How does a low GI diet fit with NICE guidelines for type 2 diabetes.

The course provides information derived from the glycaemic index. This gives an idea of how much sugar is produced from the digestion of starchy carbohydrates. For example, a bowl of cornflakes affects blood sugar to the same extent as eight spoonful’s of table sugar. So useful for a busy GP trying to give clear information in the confines of a routine appointment, also a practice nurse/dietician with more time to devote to the issue.

Healthcare professionals are also shown things people with type 2 diabetes can do for themselves, so they are more than passive recipients of healthcare and have the very real possibility to reverse their condition. The course also provides downloadable resources.

To access the online course, click here.

In 2016, Dr Unwin was awarded ‘NHS Innovator of the Year’ for published research into a low carb diet as an alternative to drug therapy in type 2 diabetes – so that his GP practice spends £40,000 per year less than expected on drugs for diabetes, while at the same time helping up to 50 per cent of people get their diabetes into medication-free remission. This is done by dramatically cutting back on both dietary sugar and the starchy carbohydrates that digest down into sugar.

Diabetes.co.uk developed, in association with Dr Unwin, the award-winning Low Carb Program. So far more than 340,000 have signed up and taken part in the programme launched on World Diabetes Day 2015. It has significantly disrupted the understanding behind type 2 diabetes and has demonstrated remission from the condition in one in four members who complete the programme.  The online Low Carb Program for health care professionals is currently in development.

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