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. <br><br>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. <br><br>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. <br><br>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. <br><br>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. Part of this necessarily revolves around healthy and appetising recipes. Some of his favourites are: <br><br>Emma Porter’s low carb Yorkshire pudding, incredibly comforting but low carb and has become a firm family favourite (I also add sausage to prepare this as a toad in the hole alternative, which the kids love) <br><br>Zoe Harcombe’s Liver, bacon & onion pate, a nutrient packed feast (I also add kidney and heart into the mix) <br><br>Low carb bread, very filling, tasty and non-BG spiking alternative to the gluten packed staple we have all become accustomed to (I also add a variety of seeds and pine nuts for extra flavour and interest) <br><br><br>A top 10 list of shopping items include (all organic, pasture fed): <br>Steak, my go-to food when I’m struggling to pin down my blood glucose
Lamb shoulder, exquisite when slow roasted over 4hrs
The best quality free range eggs I can find, used in every recipe I cook
Goats or sheeps yoghurt (I am dairy-free)
Cave aged hard goats cheese, or the gooey stuff. Errington Cheese shop online do a fine selection
90% dark chocolate. Waitrose Peruvian is excellent and only 3.5% sugar
Berries. I love them all – blueberries/raspberries/strawberries/blackberries
Nitrate-free bacon. Fruitpig do a fine selection online including the best black pudding with GF versions
Mackerel fillets, a quick fix lunch and great Omega-3 source
Dressed crab – in the shell, transports me back to holidays in Devon
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. <br><br>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.
<br>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.