Jon Furniss is an engineer who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2012 at the age of 39, and embarked on a personal health journey in June 2019 with a target of normalising his blood sugar after 7 years of gradually rising average blood glucose.
With a doctoral degree in engineering he has a passion for open-minded enquiry, problem solving, and route cause analysis: the sticking-plaster approach just will not do. He is an ambassador for the Public Health Collaboration Charity, and a strong advocate of a real food lifestyle including the ketogenic diet for the control of blood sugar in managing diabetes.
A detailed, and tenacious person, he has applied these qualities in delivering high quality engineering analyses, simulation models of physical processes, technical reports, presentations senior management, and leadership of multi-disciplinary technical teams, all in multi-national company environments. Over 20 years this has equipped Jon with the skills to communicate messages with passion, energy, enthusiasm and authenticity.
Jon lived in Australia for 5 years, being mobilised to Brisbane very shortly after Type 1 diagnosis. Away from the home comfort and support network of the NHS, he was left to navigate the world of Type 1 diabetes alone, whilst working an expat assignment and supporting his wife and 3 young children. There was never much time to research whether or not there was a different or better way of managing his diabetes other than what had hurriedly been explained to him prior to jetting off. In any case, the Aussie doctor he saw kept telling him ‘you’re doing great Jon, it’s like you haven’t got diabetes’, even though his HbA1c and waist circumference were steadily rising.
Two years after returning to the UK, a chance meeting with an old school friend provided the necessary motivation to take control of diabetes. This old friend had been suffering for 20 years from cluster headaches – recurrent and extreme migraines. He put this condition into remission almost overnight with a keto diet, teaching himself the metabolic science necessary to understand and became a strong advocate. It was shocking that this friend knew more about insulin and diabetes than he did. At this point Jon woke up to the awareness that he could be heading for double diabetes. Jon heeded the message and after conducting his own similar research switched to a keto lifestyle and overnight reduced carbohydrate intake from an estimated 300g/day to <50g/day.
The impact was a reduction in insulin usage from around 38U/day to around 16U/day, with a concomitant reduction in average blood sugar from 7.4 to 5.7 almost overnight with a huge reduction in glycaemic variation. Jon recognises this shift reduces the chances of any future diabetic complications, and with some further tweaks to keep blood glucose in the normal range perhaps the complications risk can be reduced to zero. He is therefore firmly committed to this new way of living.
Jon is active in social media, regularly reading articles and sharing ideas and inspiration among the diabetic and low carb community.
Observing a low carb lifestyle isn’t easily compatible with family life. Especially in modern society with its standard diet and default to cereals, bread, fruit, etc. Jon is determined to use his diabetic experience to help navigate a better course through his families nutritional journey across the treacherous waters presented by the modern food industry, and is very keen to help improve childhood nutrition in general: these are the next cohort of Type 2 diabetics after all. He is planning a presentation on this subject at the next PHC conference.
His PHC ambassador role involves advocacy for PHC’s goals of promoting a real food lifestyle with daily activity. This involves approaching local GP surgeries and the creation of patient support groups targeting obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Jon has been a lifelong keen athlete, competing at club level in cycling over a long period, and has not allowed diabetes to hold him back from competing in endurance competitions, and long hard multi-day events in the mountains. Aside from paid work as an engineer and father duties at home getting out in the sunshine with a bunch of mates on a bike, or researching and advocating for better health are Jon’s passions.