According to Diabetes UK there are 4 million people in the UK with type 2 diabetes, which is an increase of 65% over the past decade. Our lifestyle can play a huge part in our likelihood of developing diabetes, so by taking more control of our health and wellbeing we can reduce or even reverse the disease. A great example of reversing diabetes is the politician Tom Watson. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2015 but managed to reverse the diagnosis through weight loss and several lifestyle changes.
If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, or you’re feeling any of the symptoms that are linked to developing diabetes, there are things you can do to help reduce or even reverse your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
In this article we’ll look at what diabetes is, and the lifestyle changes that will help towards reducing your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. First, let’s get the lowdown on what diabetes is.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar levels and insulin levels to be too high. The amount of sugar in your blood is controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. Insulin moves the glucose (sugar) from the food you have digested into cells where it's broken down to produce energy.
If your body isn’t producing enough insulin or the insulin your body is producing isn’t working properly then the glucose won’t be turned into energy, leaving you with a high blood sugar level.
Type 1 diabetes is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body doesn’t react properly to the insulin that’s been produced.
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes means that your blood sugar levels are above the normal range but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. However, you’re at a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Unfortunately, pre-diabetes doesn’t have any obvious symptoms. There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?
Be aware of the following symptoms:
● Feeling very thirsty
● Increased urination
● Feeling fatigued
● Weight loss
● Blurred vision
● Wounds that aren’t healing
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, then you should have a chat with your GP about diabetes. They may conduct a diabetes test, checking your urine and blood to measure your sugar levels. It can take a couple days to get the results back and, depending on the diagnosis, your GP will explain what happens next. You can book an appointment with your GP using the Evergreen Life app.
How to reverse type 2 diabetes
Reversing type 2 diabetes is no easy task, it can be a big personal commitment to make significant changes in your lifestyle – after all, a diabetic spends around three hours a year with a healthcare professional, and the other 8,757 hours they must manage their condition themselves, according to Diabetes UK.
But small steps soon build up to big changes, so if you want to take more control of your health to prevent developing diabetes, check out our top tips that you can act on today.
1. Keep your carbs in check
It’s been shown* that the total amount of carbs we eat is a predictor of glycaemic response (how much of a sugar rush we get). Even healthy carbs will cause glucose surges, so if you’re at risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes it’s well worth keeping any carbs you eat to those with a low glycaemic Index rating and monitor your blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Changing your nutrition habits can be a challenge where fast and cheap food is in abundance on our shelves, but here’s some tips to get you started:
- Diabetes UK have a great range of diabetic recipes to help keep your sugar levels in check. They also have great local groups to help support you making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
- Consider following a keto based diet – studies have shown* that the reduction in HbA1c (glucose in our bodies) dropped by as much as 17% when participants followed a keto diet and 94% had insulin decreased or eliminated (under careful medical supervision). So, it’s a good preemptive strike to take by eating more ‘keto’.
- Focus on five a day – a good variety of fruit and veg is a given these days when it comes to eating healthily. Remember whilst fruit contains natural sugars, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on any high GI fruits and vegetables that may spike your blood sugar levels.
2. Keep on moving
Keeping active helps us lose weight, feel fitter and healthier – and it also helps to reduce our fat stores. Carrying excess fat has been shown to greatly increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.Having too much fat around the pancreas and liver can cause insulin resistance, so keeping active and focusing on fat loss rather than weight loss can help reduce the risk of pre-diabetes.
The NHS recommends we do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises and two days of strength exercises each week –but if you’re not a regular exerciser that may seem like a lot! Here’s a few ways that can help keep you motivated to move:
- Keep it social – why not join a walking group or an exercise class which can make‘working out’ less of a chore. Why not check out meetup.com for local activities, or if you do need to visit your doctor anytime soon they can also refer you to relevant community groups.
- HIIT it – you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill to get your heart rate racing. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way of having short, effective workouts that raise the heart and get you burning fat fast.
- Keep it cheap – you don’t have to take out a costly gym membership to do some strength training – there’s lots of body strength exercises you can do at home.If you’re not sure whether working out at home or the gym is best for you, checkout our article on different ways to get fit at home or the gym.
3. Happy heart, happy health
People with diabetes are more at risk of having heart disease, strokes and heart attacks – all things related to our heart health. Keeping active is one thing, but there’s also other lifestyle areas that are worth changing to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of pre-diabetes.
- Stop the cigs – we’re all aware that smoking is bad for our health, particularly our heart as it can narrow blood vessels, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. There’s plenty of help available from your pharmacist, nurse or GP who can give you advice and refer you to local support groups. There are apps like Quit Buddy that can give you a helping hand when it comes to quitting the ciggies.
- Reduce the booze - Alcohol stops your body from releasing glucose in to the bloodstream causing low blood sugar levels and potentially hypoglycemia. So, reducing your alcohol intake can reduce the affects of a blood sugar drop.
Take control of your health
It might seem a bit daunting to implement new healthy lifestyle changes, but don’t worry, it's not all doom and gloom! There are tons of great resources that can help you manage your health. You could use the Evergreen Life app to keep track of your health and wellbeing and feel more in control of your own health information, you can download it for free.
If you follow the above steps of managing your blood sugar levels, exercise, eat healthily and look after your heart you’re well on your way to improving your overall health and being able to reduce or reverse the risk of diabetes and live a healthy and happy life.