I Am Diabetic! What Should I Do?
You are most probably reading this article because you or someone you care about may have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or been told that they stand a chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they do not make some lifestyle changes.
In order to offer you some support and to try and simplify the detail I have tried to provide some information below which may help to answer some of the burning questions you have whirring around in your head!
- What is diabetes and what is the difference between type 1 and type 2?
Diabetes is a disease which has serious life long effects and occurs when the amount of sugar (also known as glucose) in our blood is too high and our bodies ability to produce or provide enough insulin (the hormone which regulates our blood sugar and helps us to restore it to a healthy level) is impaired. Our pancreas produces insulin but in the case of diabetes the following can happen:
Type 1 diabetes - This is an autoimmune disease which means the body attacks itself and in the case of type 1 diabetes the body attacks the cells which produce insulin and our blood sugar is left to rise to dangerous levels as there is no controlled response from insulin to reduce it to a 'safe' level.
Type 2 diabetes - This is caused by genetic and environmental factors and can be delayed or prevented through a healthy lifestyle. In this case the body doesn't make enough insulin or the insulin the body makes does not work, therefore our blood sugar rises and is not controlled. This is the most prevalent type and small changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on the condition.
- What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Common symptoms of diabetes are the feeling of extreme thirst, passing urine frequently, feeling extremely tired and weight loss. You can get tested for Type 2 diabetes at some pharmacies for free!
- What is the treatment for diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes - This autoimmune disease cannot be cured, the body needs regular insulin injections in order to manage blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Type 2 diabetes - As type 2 diabetes gets worse you may need medication in order to help keep blood glucose levels within a normal range, however lifestyle changes can help improve and even reverse type 2 diabetes. It may be a big ask but this disease is reversible so it is most definitely worth the effort for your health. Treatment such as a healthy balanced diet, weight loss to within a 'normal' range if you are overweight and regular exercise will all help to keep blood sugar levels healthy without the need for medication.
- What happens if I don't do anything?
If you do not get the support and treatment required then in extreme cases you could end up losing your vision which is called diabetic retinopathy, you would be at risk of kidney failure, at risk of lower limb amputation and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is an increase in blood sugar levels during pregnancy, which usually disappears after the baby is born. This is due to the fact the mothers body cannot make enough insulin to meet the additional needs in pregnancy. In order to reduce the chances of gestational diabetes the mother should keep to a healthy weight, should usually be screened and tested for gestational diabetes, can monitor blood sugar levels with a testing kit and ensure they eat a healthy balanced diet free of processed foods.
- Are there any natural ways to lower blood sugar levels?
- Apple cider vinegar is a front runner! Find out about it in this blog.
- Increase the amount of high fibre foods in your diet such as beans, nuts and wholegrains.
- Ensure you get enough sleep 7-8 hours a night is recommended.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Check out this blog to see exactly how much!
- Choose foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI).
- Include physical activity in your day, every day. This doesn't have to be going to the gym it could be walking to work or the train station instead of driving and climbing the stairs instead of catching the lift.
- Control your stress levels. Make time for yourself!
- Blueberries and cherries have been linked with helping insulin sensitivity due to the fact they contain chemicals called anthocyanins which could help to lower blood sugar levels.
- Avocados are full of fat (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) which slows down the release of sugars in the bloodstream and therefore reduces the insulin reaction.
- Cinnamon has been linked to helping the muscle and liver cells respond more rapidly to insulin production.
So, a quick low down to help you on your journey, whether it is a personal one or in support of a loved one, you are not alone and there is support available. I hope this helped a little to set you on the right path for what will be a life changing journey! Take care and go take control of your health!