Local doctor uses unique approach to reverse diabetes

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Thu, May 8 2014 at 4:02 PM, Updated: Tue, May 13 2014 at 9:33 PM

Eagle Point, Ore. -- An Eagle Point doctor who heads up the program My Diabetic Solution is being credited with developing a unique way to help people with diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the disease kills more Americans every year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.      

25-million Americans have diabetes and doctors say there are about 80-million more who don't even know they have it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body has a difficulty metabolizing sugar.

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Type 1 diabetes typically develops in young people. In type 1 diabetes the body does not make insulin, or does not make enough of it because the immune system attacks the cells that make insulin.

Type 2 diabetes generally develops in older people but even children can get it. People who are overweight are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes which usually begins with insulin resistance with the affected person's pancreas eventually not making enough insulin.

Dr. Thaddeus Gala says he helps people deal with both types of diabetes. He says his program can reverse diabetes in one to eight months and gets diabetics off their medication. 

Diabetic on Gala's program making progress

Medford resident Mike Anderson has been on Dr. Gala's program for about four months now and he said his life has changed for the better.

Anderson, who loves to west coast swing dance says he's noticed he's quicker on the dance floor these days.

"I have lots of energy. Tons of energy actually," said Anderson.

According to Anderson, he's feeling a lot different than he was just four months ago.

"I didn't feel healthy a lot," he began.

"I was kind of lethargic," Anderson continued.      

Anderson is one of tens of millions of Americans living with diabetes. It's a disease where the body has difficulty processing sugar.

"I was getting neuropathy in my feet, they were starting to tingle and that wasn't good," he said.

So Anderson decided to make a change. He wanted to get off his diabetes medication and get healthy. His motivation was in part,  fueled by loss.

"I've had some friends that have passed away recently and that made me want to take care of myself more," said Anderson.

Unique approach aimed at reversing diabetes

Now he says he's found something that works for him in Dr. Gala's program: My Diabetic Solution.

"We work with diabetics reverse their disease within one to eight  months so they can reduce or completely eliminate all diabetic medications as well as many other chronic medications," explained Gala.

"Medications give us a false sense of security that everything is okay and we can continue to make our same lifestyle choices," continued Gala who said he's trying to address the cause of diabetes.

Gala said he started the program eight years ago because he saw his mother make a full recovery from her fibromyalgia using natural remedies.

"I watched her go from essentially bedridden and on full disability to turning her life completely around through natural solutions," he said.

However, the process isn't easy. Gala asks people to change
their entire lifestyle.

"It's specific foods, specific supplements and specific daily habits," Gala said.

According to Gala, the root of diabetes is inflammation in the body.   His clients are instructed to exercise, eat anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, grass-fed meat, and vegetables as well as avoid inflammatory foods like dairy, rice, legumes and other grains. In addition, people get individualized coaching. Gala says his program works. 

"We've had people who have been diabetic for 35 plus years on insulin or oral medications for the entire length, 35 years, being able to completely reverse their disease in four, five, six months and get off their medications. Their doctors are blown away because they've never seen anything like it," said Gala.

Other doctors weigh in

According to Gala, he has a good success rate. He said nine out of 10 clients say his program met or exceeded their goals.

However that statistic sounds high to Dr. Robin Miller, a general internist who practices in Medford.

"It's almost unheard of. I mean any diet program, you're lucky if you get 50%," she said.

Miller said she is worried about what happens once people are done with the program and there's no more accountability.

Dr. Ryan Hungerford, an endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes also has concerns that patients might abandon medications when they may actually need them.

"I have seen patients who have lost a lot of weight and the medications have been successfully removed but then the blood sugars start trending up," said Hungerford.

Hungerford said he's had patients go through Gala's program and come out happy with the results.

However, he says he doesn't think it will work for everyone.

"Diabetes is a very complex disease and there are components such as family history," said Hungerford.

While he said he supports what Gala is trying to do, for some people dietary changes may not be enough.

"There are many patients who just are too advanced," Hungerford said.

How much it is to take part in the program

The My Diabetic Solution program will cost you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the case.

Miller said she believes the money people pay for the program helps with its success.

"When you invest money in a diet plan you're much more likely to be successful," said Miller.

For Mike Anderson, a big part of his success was support from his wife Molly.

"I couldn't have done it without her ... She's really been a help, a great help," Anderson said.

"It was an investment in me"

According to Anderson, the money he paid and the strict diet is all  worth it.

Now 30 pounds lighter, Anderson is doing what he loves a little easier with a little more style.

"There's one move that I do where you gotta turn real quick and I was always a little slow getting around ... but the last couple times I did it, I was a little swifter and it felt good," said Anderson with a smile.

He said he's feeling better than ever after taking his health into his own hands.

Anderson now clinically non-diabetic

Before starting Gala's program, Anderson's A1C - a number from a test that determines if someone is diabetic or not - was an 11.

Anything above a 6.5 means the person is diabetic.

Just this week he received news that his A1C is now at 6, meaning he's clinically non-diabetic.       

Anderson is also completely off his diabetic medications and feeling great.

What people have to say after completing the program

NBC 5 also spoke with people who recently completed the program.

One woman said she's still doing well, though she's been deviating from the diet more now because she can. She said she has not gained any of her weight back and is still not taking insulin. However she began taking Metformin again. Metformin is a medication that treats type 2 diabetes. Overall she said she felt My Diabetic Solution was beneficial to her health and that the $5000 she paid for the program was well spent.

Another person we spoke with had very similar things to say. The 69-year-old man who told us he had a family history of diabetes, said after being in the program for three weeks he was able to throw away his medication. He's been out of the program for about eight months now. He said he's maintained the 20 pounds he lost and is not taking any more medication. He said he's been successful because he's been strict with his diet and kept to Gala's program. He said My Diabetic Solution was worth every penny.

Recent study on how Mediterranean diet affects diabetes progression

Miller also mentioned a recent study that looked at how the Mediterranean diet affected people with diabetes. The study followed two groups of people who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. One of the groups followed a low-fat diet, the other group followed a Mediterranean diet.

"The group that was on the Mediterranean diet, all of them ended up on medication after eight years. They also had a group on a low fat diet, all of them ended up on medication at six years," said Miller.

After hearing about the study's results, Miller said she doesn't know if it's possible to completely stop diabetes to where medication will not be necessary at some point. 

"I don't know if you can stop it," she said.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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