According to Diabetes UK about 700 people a day are currently diagnosed with diabetes and since 1996 the number of people that have been diagnosed has more than doubled to almost 3.5 million. This figure does not include the estimated 549,000 people in the UK that have diabetes but do not yet have a diagnosis.
Diabetes occurs when the body’s ability to manage glucose goes wrong. When we eat a meal the nutrients in the food are broken down into their constituent parts and glucose is produced. The body keeps glucose levels in the blood under tight control and at any one time we should have only one teaspoon of glucose (sugar) dissolved in it throughout our entire bloodstream. When we eat a meal and glucose levels start to rise an organ called the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin to remove the glucose from the bloodstream and take it to the cells that use it for energy.
Diabetes occurs when either the body doesn’t produce insulin, when it makes too little insulin or when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Resistance to insulin basically means that the body is producing enough insulin but the body no longer responds to it in the correct way.
So, there are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body no longer produces insulin, as the insulin producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. It is considered to be an autoimmune disorder which means that the body attacks and destroys its own cells. This attack is most likely triggered when the body mounts an attack against an infection and ‘accidentally’ attacks itself too.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not making enough insulin, or the insulin it is making is not being used properly and so high levels of sugar stay in the bloodstream and don’t get to the cells that need it. 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Previously this was called adult diabetes but sadly in 2000, the first cases of Type 2 diabetes in children were diagnosed in overweight girls aged nine to 16.
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is largely PREVENTABLE by changes in diet and lifestyle. The main risk factors include being overweight / obese, having an increased waist circumference, sedentary lifestyle, eating a low nutrient, highly refined diet and a lack of sleep.
The danger of diabetes is that the body cannot cope with high levels of glucose and insulin and damage occurs as a result. Long term high levels can lead to heart, kidney and eye problems, nerve damage, a fatty liver and even amputation due to circulatory problems.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
|Frequent urination||Regular infections|
|Poor healing||Blurred vision|
So, what can we do to help prevent diabetes or if we already have it, to help minimise the dangers?
- If you are overweight – lose it and get within a normal weight range for your height
- Start exercising regularly
- Eat a colourful diet rich in vegetables and fruit to help minimise damage to your body
- Avoid refined white food which spikes blood sugar levels, switch to wholemeal versions
- Increase fibre in your diet – eat more vegetables and legumes
- Find out if you have any food sensitivities
- Avoid fizzy drinks and fruit juices which are full of sugar
- Avoid high sugar treats such as cakes, biscuits
- Eat protein (meat, fish, eggs) with each meal as this delays the emptying of your stomach and decreases blood sugar spikes
Losing weight is not easy on your own so consider joining a club like The Food Physio™ Weight Loss Group to help you with your goals. The best thing about The Food Physio™ programme is that it takes existing health issues into consideration as there are some conditions that prevent weight loss. It ensures that any such health issues are addressed to maximise your weight loss goals. It also offers individualised exercise programmes that are adapted to you and any restrictions to exercise that you may have.
If you’re not interested in weight loss there are also individual consultations available with one of our nutritional therapists who can assess your whole body, as people seldom have just one problem, and devise a nutritional programme specific to you that takes all of your health concerns into consideration.
The Food Physio™ is, of course, no substitute for medical care. If you suspect that you have diabetes and do not yet have a diagnosis, you should always visit your GP first.
Digestive Wellness, Lipski 2012
Textbook of Functional Medicine, The Institute of Functional Medicine, 2010
Introduction to Human Nutrition, Gibney et al, 2009