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Smart Thinker: how Michael Mosley reversed his diabetes diagnosis

Smart Thinker: how Michael Mosley reversed his diabetes diagnosis

Several years ago, doctor and science journalist Michael Mosley took his own health in hand, with impressive results. Now he’s coming to show us how to do the same.

Smart Thinker: how Michael Mosley reversed his diabetes diagnosis

When Oxford University was looking for people to take part in trials for a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year, Michael Mosley didn’t hesitate. In the past, in the name of science, he has swallowed tape worms, infected himself with malaria, deliberately gained weight to test diets, undergone sleep experiments (he suffers from insomnia) and gone caving (he is claustrophobic).

And so the English science journalist and broadcaster saw the chance to be part of the team to bring a vaccine to the world as an exciting opportunity. Mosley was disappointed not to be selected by his alma mater as a human guinea pig. “They looked at me but eventually decided no,” he tells me, slightly dispirited. “I am 63 – maybe that was too old … who knows? It would have been fascinating to have been involved,” he says wistfully.

Since then, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in the UK and is being rolled out. Will he belining up to get it? “Absolutely! But they won’t give it to me first as I am not in an at-risk group.” Mosley qualified as a doctor in the 1980s and although he left medicine after just a few years to take up a television job at the BBC, he retains a lifelong fascination with the human body and published a book earlier this year, Covid-19: What you need to know about the Coronavirus and the race for the vaccine.

He even had some personal experience with the virus, with two of his three adult sons contracting the disease at the same time – one while working in Melbourne, and the other while working as a doctor in the UK. “I was never that worried about them,” he says. “They are young and fit. In fact, I was hugely relieved Jack got it and was at home to self-isolate as he was about to start working on a COVID ward in Manchester and now, having had it, he will have immunity.

I thought my wife, Clare and I might get it but again, I was not overly concerned – the only things to put me at risk were my age and being a bloke.” Indeed, since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2013, Mosley has become famous for researching and writing about improving one’s health by following a Mediterranean diet, losing weight (1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight/obese), getting sufficient sleep and fasting intermittently.

While practising what he preached, Mosley succeeded in reversing his own condition and no longer has diabetes. His wife, GP Clare Bailey, became her husband’s part-time partner-in-crime, contributing her own medical knowledge and developing recipes to accompany Mosley’s writings. In the past 10 years, Mosley has published a slew of books, including the phenomenally successful The Fast Diet, which he later updated and combined with The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet to become The Fast 800.

He will be heading to Aotearoa in 2021 with his new live show, ‘Your Body: An Evening of Discovery’. “It’s a celebration of the human body – how do you know it is not in shape and what do you do if it isn’t? I’ll be talking about rapid weight loss, sleep, and intermittent fasting, also celebrating the immune system and what it does; and how to knock it into shape so the vaccine will work when it comes along,” he says with his trademark enthusiasm.

“Many of us don’t realise how important sleep is. There was a study done when people with a bad night’s sleep (less than 6-7 hours), who were injected with Hepatitis B vaccine, were found to be 16 times less likely to develop antibodies than those who got sufficient sleep!” he exclaims. As someone who regularly gets less than my allotted eight hours, I am considering this impressive statistic, fearful of what poor sleeping habits may be doing to my health. But there is no time to ponder – Mosley is off again.

“Did you know we have a second brain in our gut? It is a network of over 100 million neurons that communicate with the brain in our skull – that’s as many neurons as there are in the head of a cat!” No doubt, his live show will be replete with such fun facts. Although Mosley has visited NZ before on book tours, he’s never had a chance to step outside airports and venues, so is also looking forward to sometime chatting to Kiwis and getting to know the country.

Given his book sales (The Fast 800 was one of the top-selling books of 2019 in New Zealand), it’s safe to assume there will be plenty of fans eager to do the same. For those who may be wondering if Mosley (a self-confessed chocoholic) ever fails to practise what he preaches, his final word is this: “If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure there is no junk in the house. If I am ever wandering around the house late at night, feeling a bit down, I’ll look for the chocolate and crisps – so now I just don’t have them in the house.”‘

Your Body: An Evening of Discovery.’ Aotea Centre, Auckland – 27 April, 2021

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