Hanna Jäntti, RN is a nurse with over 20 yrs professional experience both in the UK National Health Service (NHS) & the Finnish health care system. Now with over a thousand patients & members she has been working with Dr. Antti Heikkilä in his online clinic/ club almost since it started, nearly 6 years ago. In this interview she discusses how she uses a low-carb diet to treat patients with T2D, both with Dr Heikkilä and in her other work in both public & private practice..
LIHF Living: “How did you become involved with Low Carb (LC)?”
Hanna Jäntti: “Through my parents who are now both in their 70’s, in particular my father who, ten years ago, was getting quite ill with high blood sugar, cholesterol, etc. They came across Dr. Heikkilä’s writings & work. At the time, they thought they were doing all the right things i.e. eating margarine, no fat, whole grain bread, etc. but they were still getting sick. At the same time my son, who is now 15, was also suffering from severe allergies, was coughing all the time, asthmatic & becoming overweight. Then, after just a few months of following Antti’s advice & diet, my parents started to get better, and so I thought we’d try the same thing at home. At that time we didn’t do so much lo-carb with the children but we stopped all grains & sugar & we cut out all processed foods. Almost immediately my son’s symptoms vanished & he was able to come off his asthma medication. That’s when I realized that this is all to do with nutrition, what you are putting in your mouth and, as a nurse, I started to realize that this is the way we should also be treating our patients”
LL: “How did you start working with Dr. Heikkilä?”
HJ: “Again, through my parents, in particular my mother who by now was a great fan of Antti’s online work & writings. She was always sharing links to his work with me, asking my opinion about this & that, and so I also ended up joining what by now was a Health Club, not just a T2D treatment clinic. We had some face-to-face meetings with Antti & other club members and that’s how we finally met & started working together.”
LL: “What’s the nature of your online work?”
HJ: “I step in if Antti is not available or is too busy to treat patients but the main bulk of my work is writing & answering questions. I write a lot of articles & we’ve written one or 2 books together. I am there mainly in a supporting role, with most of the questions from patients being diet-related.”
LL: “In your other work do you practice lo-carb at all with patients?”
HJ: “In my private practice work I’m involved with occupational health and so the opportunities for LC are restricted anyway but nevertheless, I still come across diabetics and I always advocate LC for them as well, even though my boss is not in favour of it! I do it because I can’t promote something I don’t believe in. I simply can’t give advice to people that I know will make things worse for them. Since I’m going against official advice, I have to be very diplomatic with my patients. I interview them at first to find out what they think & then I offer some suggestions/ advice & see what the reaction is. I always talk about bread because the amount people eat in Finland is just shocking, but even here attitudes are slowly changing. Antti’s work & ideas are slowly spreading but it’s still not easy.”
LL: “At what point do you think you’ve achieved success with a patient on lo-carb? Is it a successful strategy for treating T2D?”
HJ: “Outside of Antti’s clinic I haven’t had much success. People always come up with excuses. However, if a patient manages to get beyond about 4-8 weeks LC they can really start to see the difference. For example, fatty liver clears up nicely within a month, their blood sugars & blood pressure start falling & the benefits are clear for all to see which is an incentive to keep going & see it through. Usually these people are the ones that continue but the ideal, to make a permanent & lasting change would be a year, as advocated by Antti & his online clinic.”
LL: “How do you see the future of lo-carb for T2D treatment? Is online a successful model or will people still need face-to-face consultations?”
HJ: “I think online is great because once people get the correct advice (online), they then have the tools to help themselves & make a difference to their own lives without any further intervention. There’s also the feeling of support that you get from an online community, where people can freely chat & share ideas. In the end it’s down to you and online gives you the motivation you need to be successful”
LL: “It seems that Finland is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to treating T2D with lo-carb & there is great resistance to change. Do you agree?”
HJ: “That is true and it’s all about money, nothing else. Also, people here in Finland have unquestioning faith in the system, which was not the case in the UK when I lived & worked there. Compared to British people, Finns believe that official government advice is good for them,‘the government knows best’. They believe in the power of drugs, something you can see in every A&E department up & down the land; people with flu literally demanding drugs to instantly make themselves better”
LL: “Over the years, Antti’s life has been threatened & his personal security compromised for his views on diet & nutrition. You knew this when you started working with him. Did this bother you at all?”
HJ: “I haven’t really thought about it. Some of the things that have happened to Antti are really difficult to believe and I don’t understand why people would want to do that. I just want to do what’s right and on diet & nutrition Antti is correct.”
LL: “Have you had any bad experiences with patients or doctors?”
HJ: “Yes. A patient (not from Antti’s clinic), pre-diabetic & very overweight and quite ill all the time came to see me. We discussed her treatment and how we should tackle all of her infections through diet. I thought we had a sound, mutual understanding and we agreed on a follow-up. Then I heard that she had written some bad things about me, calling me a “nutritionist from hell” on her personal blog. Both me and my boss got back to her and she removed/ edited the post. It was very strange. Apart from that, the people that I work with generally leave me alone but I know they think I’m ‘a bit strange’ & tend to just laugh at me”
LL: “Finally, what motivates you and your work with LC? How do you see the future?”
HJ: “I find the whole subject very interesting and the more you read, the more you learn. I just can’t believe we haven’t known about all this before. How were we all conned? One thing I have learned however is that you can’t change the world or people’s attitudes. You can only help those who want to help themselves. It’s a waste of time trying to convince those that only want to believe in the official advice. You get some peace of mind once you realize this but things are changing. More and more people like Antti & LIHF Living are now getting a voice & I am quietly optimistic about the future.”
You can find out more about Antti, his work & his writings (mostly in Finnish) via his website here..
Follow Antti on Twitter here..