Updated: Apr 4
As it is National Diabetes Month let's shed some light on what you can do to prevent and manage this condition.
Hearing the words 'diabetic' or 'pre-diabetic', can be incredibly frightening - in fact, many of the clients I have seen were prompted to seek help in response to hearing these words. In this blog I want to highlight what a huge difference addressing this condition with nutrition and lifestyle changes can make.
Has your weight been creeping up on you over the years and is proving difficult to shift – despite your best efforts? Or maybe your energy levels are on the floor?
It’s easy to push to the back of your mind. Surely things can’t have got that bad… You’re not one of ‘those’ people whose food and lifestyle choices result in blood sugar levels so wonky, they find themselves in the pre-diabetes or diabetes trap… It’s easily done, and I see a lot of people in clinic who have been surprised to find they’re occupying that space.
It really is worth getting your blood sugar levels checked out. Once you know your numbers, you can do something about it and make a huge shift in all aspects of your health, including your weight.
Whatever the tests say, I want you to know that, by making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, it is possible to prevent, control and, in some cases, reverse this condition.
Could it be me?
One in six people over the age of 40 is likely to have diabetes, with many more lurking in the grey area leading up to a diabetes diagnosis – prediabetes.
There’s no upside to having diabetes. This is what may lie in store for anyone receiving the diagnosis: risk of stroke, heart disease, visual disturbances and other eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma, higher risk of bacterial, fungal and yeast infections, high blood pressure, damaged nerves and blood vessels, and fatigue and lack of energy. The list doesn’t stop there, but I think you get my drift. Diabetes is not a good thing.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood are higher than normal. There are two main kinds of diabetes (type 1 and 2). Both types involve insulin, a hormone responsible for controlling the level of glucose in the blood. Type 1 diabetic patients do not produce sufficient insulin and therefore need to inject it (this type of diabetes is the rarer kind, and often develops at a young age).
Type 2 diabetic patients, produce insulin, but the cells become insensitive to it and so it fails to do its job properly. Type 2 diabetes accounts for over 90% of all people with diabetes, and the condition usually develops later in life. This type of diabetes is far more strongly associated with diet and lifestyle factors.
Diagnosing type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is diagnosed by testing your blood sugar level. If your fasting plasma glucose level (FBG) is too high (above 7 mmol/l) or your oral glucose tolerance (OGTT) is above 11.1mmol/l, your HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood sugar levels) is above 6.4%, this represents a diagnosis of diabetes.
For prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal and that often leads to type 2 diabetes, your FBG might read between 5.5 and 7 mmol/l, your OGTT might be between 7.8 and 11.1 mmol/l, and your HbA1c might be between 6% to 6.4%.
It’s easy to dismiss the risk, but the shift into pre-diabetes can happen almost without your noticing it. You may experience niggling symptoms, like low energy or your weight creeping up on you, and your usual tricks to get it down no longer work as well as they once did.
Common risk factors for pre-diabetes are these:
You are overweight.
You have a close relative – parent or sibling – who has a diabetes diagnosis.
You have high blood pressure or low HDL (‘good’) cholesterol.
You’re over 40.
You’ve given birth to a baby over 9 pounds
What to do if this applies to you
Your GP will be able to organise blood tests for you. You can also get tested privately. I offer a range of biochemical tests and can work with you to make manageable changes to your diet and lifestyle to get your health back on track.
From a nutrition professional, what I’m about to say may sound a little biased, but I have seen so many diabetic clients receive unhelpful and incorrect advice about what to eat from doctors. Unfortunately, doctors receive no training in nutrition and have no other option than to follow the Eatwell Guide (published by Public Health England) – which, sadly, is outdated and not evidence-based.
You may have been told that you could fix this just by losing a little weight, but I’m afraid that the way you might have gone about this in the past simply is not going to work anymore.
Instead, think of the condition as a form of carbohydrate intolerance. That for whatever reason (genetics, stress, trauma, diet, toxic accumulation), the body is not able to effectively metabolise carbohydrates right now and that consuming too many and in particular the wrong types of carbohydrates, is therefore feeding the disease. Accepting this can make a huge difference when addressing diabetes from a diet and lifestyle approach.
I work with my clients to guide them to make better food choices that help lower their blood sugar levels. The strategy we create is tailored to you and no one else. What you like to eat, avoiding what you don’t like to eat, making changes at a speed that feels right for you to achieve your goals. We also look at these results in a bigger context of other annoying symptoms you might be experiencing and try to mop those up as we go along, too. You would be surprised the impact you can make on your health and how you experience life.
To find out more, why not book yourself in for a complimentary health review call and take your first steps back to good health today?
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