Diabetes is a subject which continues to pop up frequently in the news. It’s no secret that diabetes is hugely linked to obesity, and figures show that obesity rates are the highest that they have ever been in the UK. It’s thought that 1 in 4 hospital beds will be occupied by someone with diabetes within 11 years, further cranking up the pressure on the NHS. Although these rates continue to grow, there are several methods to help reduce and even reverse the illness. Starting simply by changing to a healthier diet can help massively in reducing blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. It’s a nasty illness that can sometimes be quite hard to detect. Hyperglycaemia (raised blood sugar) is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels. Symptoms can begin at excessive thirst and hunger, alongside being generally tired and in some cases blurred vision.
Eating the wrong foods can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels and promote inflammation, which may increase your risk of disease. So try to avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, trans fats (commonly found in margarine’s or baked goods to help with shelf life), white breads, pasta and rice. If you’d like to find out more about how your diet can impact on diabetes, Diabetes UK is a fantastic resource.
The most common and most reported level is type 2 diabetes and we have seen countless articles written on this subject in recent years. Just last month the Daily Mail ran with the headline ‘Diabetes Epidemic Hits the Under-40s’, and on the same day the Express’s main story ‘Diabetes: The Forecast to Shock Britain’ shows just how much of a problem there is in this country. Although type 2 by a mile has the most media coverage, there are other variants of the disease.
The difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that people with the former don’t produce any insulin, whereas those with the latter don’t respond to insulin as well as they should, and later on in the disease often don’t make enough insulin. Insulin can be imagined as the key that allows glucose into your body, and glucose is the fuel that feeds your body’s cells. Both types of diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar levels which over time can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs. There are several factors that can increase the risk of diabetes, such as age and ethnic background. To see a full list of the factors, click here.
A 1995 study highlighted that the risk of having diabetes for a woman with a BMI of 35 is over 93 times the risk of a woman of the same age with an ideal BMI. For men this is 42 times as likely. If you have any doubts that you might be showing early signs of diabetes, it’s imperative that you take action to get yourself tested. The earlier it is detected, the more likely it is that you could reverse the illness. To detect it, your GP will likely prick your finger for a blood sample, and you will have your results in the coming weeks.
Alongside the established methods of treatment, such as following a healthy lifestyle and taking prescribed medications, weight loss surgery can be massively beneficial in reducing and even reversing diabetes. Studies show that the gastric bypass procedure is the most powerful and patients can expect to lose 60-70% of their excess weight alongside remission rates for type 2 diabetes being around 80%. Although weight loss surgery is not a permanent cure for diabetes, most patients are able to stop taking their blood sugar medication and/or place their diabetes in remission.