If diabetes was classed as an infectious disease being passed throughout the population, then we would say that we are in the midst of an epidemic. The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has soared by 59.8 per cent in a decade according to analysis by Diabetes UK. Not included in this calculation are the numbers of people who have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. More alarmingly still (if that were possible) the rates of diabetes in children of what used be called “adult onset” diabetes is growing enough year by year to alarm experts. Do you need to change your lifestyle?
The tragedy is that preventing Diabetes Type 2 is much easier than controlling the disease once it has been diagnosed. Some ethnicities seem to be more prone to developing Diabetes Type 2 than others but certainly, lifestyle changes and essentially diet changes can help keep symptoms under control. However, many people are still consigned to taking on-going medication, even when making an effort to control lifestyle factors.
Diabetes Type 2 occurs usually when the pancreas still produces insulin to lower blood glucose but the body’s individual building blocks (cells) lose their sensitivity to respond to insulin (the hormone that lowers blood sugar). Diabetes Type 2 can also occur when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to lower the blood glucose levels to a normal functioning range. The uncontrolled high glucose level (which is normally controlled by insulin from the pancreas) is dangerous to health and can cause (amongst other issues) organ damage, and tissue death, damage to vision, heart issues/stroke and other life threatening complications. It is certainly not a condition to be sneezed at.
Surely the trick is to avoid getting the condition in the first place. Could this “epidemic” be part of what is not working when we are working? Long hours, not enough breaks, not eating “real food” (grabbing a sandwich) and crucially not moving from our desks? Do you need to change your lifestyle?
Five Tips for A Lifestyle that is less likely to develop Diabetes Type 2
- Eat Real Food: Eat real, good quality food, i.e. whole food you cook yourself. Real food is likely to have the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other qualities that nurture and feed the body. Food isn’t just about the fuel. For example, a chromium is a mineral that we need in trace amounts but is required in adequate amounts in the body to help maintain insulin sensitivity. Brewer’s yeast, broccoli, meat and whole-grain products are all excellent sources. Some fruits, vegetables, and spices provide chromium. Romaine lettuce, raw onions and ripe tomatoes are all good sources. If you do consider dietary supplementation, talk to your healthcare provider first, especially if you are already diabetic.
- Eat The Type of Food that Maintains an even blood sugar: Eating food in its natural state, which is non processed is more likely to hit this criteria. Foods have different speeds at which they are converted into sugar in the body. Eating foods that deliver glucose more slowly into the system is vital. “White, Fluffy” foods deliver glucose in the body rapidly (white and fluffy means processed foods, foods without nutrients, foods which are light and have a low density (popcorn), mashed potatoes (processed – you mash it), white bread, white rice etc). Typical advice is to stick to a Mediterranean type diet (without loads of pasta!) lean protein principally as fish, whole grains, vegetables.
- Sugary Drinks – boring yes but water is the best choice. There are some studies to show tea and coffee have a protective effect (they are not sure why yet) – obviously not with cream and sugar.
- Birthday Cakes and Biscuit Tin: Quite a new trend at work is that every day someone has a birthday and brings in a cake. Yes, difficult not to offend but make it a rule just to take a really small bit to be polite and then bin it (obviously don’t get spotted doing this)
- It seems that in some studies Omega 3 fat is not directly protective, but I believe that if you lower the inflammation in the body generally (omega 3 oil especially found in oily fish is an anti-inflammatory agent) and generally stick to an anti-inflammatory diet (essentially fresh food, upping vegetables), and improve general health you are improving the cells ability to transport nutrients and become more sensitive to insulin. Chronic inflammation is not easy to identify. “What we’re talking about here is low-grade inflammation that you don’t see or feel easily,” says Vivian Fonseca, MD, Professor of Medicine, Tullis Tulane Alumni Chair in Diabetes, and Chief of the Section of Endocrinology at Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans. “The whole body is essentially inflamed, particularly the blood vessels.” It is suggested that some foods may be inflammatory eg. Red meat, and therefore should be eaten in moderation. Grass-fed meats are the better choice as the nutrient composition is higher and it contains a better ratio of anti-inflammatory fats.
BONUS TIP 1: Don’t Smoke – if you smoke, according to studies, you are 50% more likely to develop diabetes. Well that is crazy. Don’t load that gun the odds are just too high. Enough said
BONUS TIP 2: Get moving – it seems even walking is beneficially. Going to the gym and just doing an hour and killing yourself is probably less effective than generally being active.