Addicted to Sugar
Most people I see in my clinic have Type 2 diabetes and are on Metformin. Often, with a strict diet regime, some patients can get off Metformin and get their diabetes under control with diet and exercise. This only happens however if the diabetes is mild as Metformin is used to help control blood sugar levels in people with NIDDM (non-insulin dependent diabetes.)
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a result of problems with the pancreatic hormone insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in the blood and the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the cells. The cells need glucose to produce energy. In those with diabetes glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being taken into and used by the cells, leading to hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose in the blood). Eventually hyperglycemia can lead to heart disease, perpiheral and autonomic neuropathy (nerve damage) and diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).
The two main types are: Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes, which is usually seen in young people and Type 2 diabetes by far the most common form of diabetes affecting 90-95% of diabetes suffers. Many people have Type 2 and are completely unaware of it. This type usually begins in later years, although unfortunately it is now becoming more common in young people. Risk factors for developing Type 2 are: diet, weight, race, age, lack of exercise and heredity factors.
There are other rarer forms of diabetes, such as gestational (or pregnancy) diabetes, which usually disappears after the birth. If you get gestational diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing one of the main types of diabetes later in life. There are currently 2.3 million people with diabetes in the UK. However, it's estimated that more than half a million people have the condition but are totally unaware. The last 30 years has seen a threefold increase in the number of cases of childhood diabetes.Obesity levels have also risen and this has led to Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to diet, being seen for the first time in young people in Europe and America
The Problem with Sugar
It's thought Type 2 diabetes is related to factors associated with a Western lifestyle, since it's most common in people who are overweight and who don't get enough exercise. People with type 2 diabetes often cannot perceive sweet tastes. This abnormality may play an important role in how individuals with diabetes perceive the taste of their food and also in how well they comply with the dietary aspects of treatment. Because our society is addicted to sugar this distorted taste perception is very common among the population in general.
The following test can detect an impaired ability to taste a sweet substance.Do not consume coffee, tea, sugary drinks or sweets for one hour before the test. Fill 7 identical glasses with 8 ounces of water each and label the glasses as having no sugar, ¼ tsp sugar, ½ tsp sugar, 1 tsp sugar, 1 ½ tsps sugar, 2 and 3 tsps of sugar. Label the glasses and ask someone else to rearrange the order and hide the labels. Take a straw and sip from each glass and write down the amount of sugar you think it contains. Between sips rinse your mouth out with water. Healthy people generally notice a sweet taste when a tsp or less is added to 8 ounces of water. By contrast people with adult on set diabetes usually do not notice the sweetness until 1 ½ to 2 tsps of sugar have been added to the water.
If you would like advice on which supplements to take, please contact me on 01323 737814 www.katearnoldnutrition.co.uk
The Importance of Diet
Nutrition, as always, plays a key part in preventing diabetes and controlling the symptoms, if you do have it. The following tips may help in balancing your blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes:
- Try to maintain a GI or GL diet, enabling the blood sugar to stabilise throughout the day. The glycaemic index is the measure of the power of food to raise blood sugar after being eaten. For weight loss and balanced blood sugar, you should aim to eat foods that are low GI or medium GI and avoid foods that are high GI. Always combine protein and carbohydrate foods together, which will enable a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream. All foods that raise blood sugar too quickly should be avoided. So called healthy dried fruit, like apricots raisins etc raise the blood sugar too quickly. If it gets too confusing, it may be worth getting a simple book with a GI index of low GI foods that are safe too eat.
- Eat oats for breakfast and snack on rough oat cakes. Oats contain a powerful anti-diabetic nutrient called beta-glucan. Try a bowl of porridge in the morning with berries, pears or apples, every other day.
- Avoid saturated fat (pork, cheese etc) and simple sugars (honey, glucose, maple syrup etc).
Eat little and often (every 3 hours is a good goal) and check blood sugar levels regularly, or as directed by your GP.
Cut out coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, alcohol, cigarettes, chocolate, processed foods, white flour, white pasta, white bread etc.
- Sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon on your food daily (contains a polyphenol called MHCP which mimics insulin).
Other foods with anti-diabetic qualities include: buckwheat, green tea, cherries, plums, apples, berries, chickpeas, lentils, oats, pears and plums.
- Unless in a "hypo" situation, avoid very sweet fruits like dates, bananas, raisins, melon and dried fruit.
- Drink 1.5 litres of preferably pure filtered water, throughout the day.
- Remember that people with type 2 can often not perceive sweet tastes(see above test).
- Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
- A personal choice issue. The so-called diabetic foods for Type 2 diabetes are not necessarily healthy, so be careful of your food choices.
Follow a low fat/high fibre diet, including plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. This reduces the need for insulin and lowers the level of fats in the blood. Fibre also helps to reduce blood sugar surges.
Please do not self medicate! Seek professional advice.
- Chromium - 400mcg daily This improves insulin's efficiency which lowers blood sugar levels. Do not self medicate and get professional guidance. Do not use in type 1 diabetes.
- Aged Kyolic Garlic - 100-300mg daily. This helps decrease and stabilize blood sugar, enhances immunity and improves circulation.
- Vitamin B - 25mg daily complex - improves the metabolism of glucose and is important for circulation and the prevention of atherosclerosis. Do not take more than 50mg daily as certain B vitamins can inactivate insulin.
- Zinc - 15-20mg daily - a deficiency has been associated with diabetes.
- Magnesium - 200mg daily - this is important for enzyme systems and ph balance. It protects against artery spasm in arteriosclerosis and increases energy levels. Low readings are often found in people with diabetes and are associated with the complications of eye disease.
- Psyllium - a good source of soluble fibre which helps stabilise blood sugar. Take ½ tbsp in water at night.
For more details call Kate Arnold on 01323 737814
The symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
- increased thirst, and drinking a lot of fluids
- passing a lot of urine
- being tired for no reason
- weight loss
- genital itching or repeated bouts of thrush
- slow healing of wounds
- blurred vision
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms typically develop over a few weeks and quickly become very obvious.
In type 2, symptoms can develop more slowly, over a period of months. Some people with type 2 diabetes have very mild symptoms, which they believe have other causes. A few people may have no symptoms at all.
THE COMPLICATIONS OF DIABETES
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are different diseases in cause, in effect and in treatment but the same long-term complications can arise in both types of the condition. The complications affect:
Diabetes can affect the blood vessels at the back of the eye [retinopathy] and this can lead to visual impairment or blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the working population.
The heart and vascular system
Diabetes can affect the heart and the vascular system making people more susceptible to heart disease and stroke. It can also cause blood clots in the vessels in the legs which may result in amputation. Amputations are 50-80 times higher in people with diabetes than the general population.
Diabetes can affect the kidneys resulting in damage or kidney failure [nephropathy].
Diabetes may cause nerve damage [neuropathy]. The most common form of nerve damage is in the extremities leading to pain or loss of sensation in the feet and ulceration of the legs. Again this can lead to amputation.