Mid-Week MOT: Sweets for my sweet - Diabetes.
The scourge of the 21st century, diabetes is fast becoming an epidemic and its effects put a massive strain on NHS resources.
According to latest figures from Diabetes UK, there are 3.5 million people diagnosed with the disease in the UK and possibly another half a million who have it but are unaware....
So what is diabetes?
Your body needs fuel in the form of glucose - the simplest form of sugar from broken down carbohydrates. A hormone called insulin is made in the pancreas and is responsible for taking the glucose out of the blood and shuttling it into the cells to be used as fuel. Insulin can be thought of as a key which unlocks the cell door and allows glucose to enter. Insulin also helps to store excess sugar in the liver and thus regulates blood sugar (BM) levels.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas either fails to produce insulin, doesn't produce enough insulin, or the insulin produced does not work properly because the body cells have become resistant to it.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.......
Type 1 diabetes -
This type is the one which cannot be caused by diet or lifestyle and is classed as an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks and destroys it's own cells - in this case the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Around a third of a million people in the UK have Type 1, diagnosed mostly between the ages of 9-14 years. These people will need to measure their own blood sugar levels a few times a day and take the correct amount of insulin to balance their blood sugars. They must take care to look after every aspect of their health and diet.
Too much glucose circulates in the blood without insulin to control it and symptoms include excess thirst leading to excess urination, tiredness and weight loss as the body begins to use fat and protein from other body tissues to provide energy. There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes but research is on going.
Type 2 diabetes -
This type of diabetes develops often as a result of poor diet and sedentary lifestyle and over half of cases can be prevented. It occurs when the insulin producing cells do not produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced is ineffective because the cells are resistant to it. When we eat too much carbohydrate, our bodies have to produce more and more insulin and the cells can become desensitised to its effect and begin to ignore it.
80-90% of diabetics in the UK have Type 2 and are usually over 40 years of age. According to Diabetes UK, however, more and more young adults and children are being diagnosed with this type; a damning legacy of our modern lifestyles.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease first treated by a healthy low sugar diet and exercise. For some people this is not enough to control high blood sugar levels and they need to go onto tablets such as gliclazide or metformin, which suppress glucose production by the liver and increase insulin sensitivity.
In the long term, these patients will eventually need insulin to control their blood sugars and become susceptible to a range of secondary illnesses.
You can have Type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years without symptoms before you are diagnosed, but it does lots of damage to the body in that time. Diabetics can often suffer with eye problems, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, poor tissue health with prolonged healing time and nerve damage in the feet and hands.
Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes -
Being overweight - especially with a large waist
Immediate family member with diabetes (you can be genetically predisposed)
You have high blood pressure or you have had a heart attack or stroke
Polycystic ovaries or gestational diabetes history with large baby
You have mental health problems like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
So how can I reduce my risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?
Eat a diet low in sugar. Refined sugar is the only foodstuff that you do not need in your diet, you can get enough glucose from carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and legumes. Moderate your intake of these foods too and try to eat long acting carbs such as oats, wholemeal bread, pasta and potatoes.
Exercise to burn fuel efficiently and maintain a body weight within normal parameters.
Keep your salt intake low to protect from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes.
If you think you have the symptoms of diabetes, please see your GP sooner rather than later. The effects of diabetes are far reaching on many body systems and can easily become debilitating and shorten life-span.
For more information visit the website of Diabetes UK at www.diabetes.org.uk.
As always, for Osteopathy in High Wycombe and beyond, call Lucy from OsteoFusion on 07833 321604 or visit www.osteofusion.co.uk.
Thanks for reading.