Do you have Type 2 diabetes? It becomes quite common as we age and sometimes we aren’t even aware that we have it. However my next guest in the Over 5o & Thriving series, discusses ways we can avoid or reverse Type 2 diabetes. November 14 is World Diabetes Day so Sally’s information is timely for us all. I met Sally Jackson through my monthly contribution to the Millers Seeing Me Project. Sally reached out to me and as she is also passionate about health we connected immediately, (although we live on the otherside of the world from each other). Like many midlife women Sally took a leap of faith and started her own business as well as being a lecturer in the School of Medicine in Cambridge.
She now lives in in Exeter, Devon near her Mum, working part-time and having time to volunteer as a trustee of a local charity as well as building her diabetes coaching business and Arbonne business.
After meeting Sally I knew that her philosophy of ‘promoting health from the inside out’ was something I was keen to promote. I’m honoured to have Sally as a guest writer for my Over 50 & Thriving series, and you can connect with Sally through her website and social media links at the end of this post.
Thriving by avoiding or reversing Type 2 diabetes
Firstly, thank you Susan for inviting me to guest blog on world diabetes day; I feel very honoured. Type 2 Diabetes is a huge global problem that is now described as a global pandemic, spreading rapidly from affluent industrialised nations to the emerging economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Unchecked this disease risks crippling not just our health, but our healthcare systems and perhaps even our economies. In the UK alone it’s predicted that by 2035 diabetes will account for 17% of the total NHS budget. Something that is surely unsustainable.
This pandemic seems mainly focused around massively increased rates of obesity which, if left unchallenged, invariably leads to prediabetes and diabetes. Whilst the cause of obesity is definitely multifactorial there are a few key culprits. Number one being sugar which is added to so many foods, not just your sweets, biscuits and cakes, but also foods like pasta sauces, ketchup, long life milk, baked beans and one of the worst culprits breakfast cereals. The suggestion is we consume 90 grams or 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day!! One third of that sugar is in the form of drinks. Add to that our tendency to eat large portions of calorie dense sugar, trans-fats and starch laden food with fewer vegetables and fibre and it’s easy to see why we are becoming obese.
If you are one of the 63% of Australian & UK adults who are obese chances are you are developing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the precursor to diabetes and is when your cells are no longer able to easily absorb the glucose from your blood. Insulin levels rise as the body pumps out even more insulin to try to lower your blood sugar.
Insulin is our fat storage hormone and is a major player when it comes to weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Insulin makes us hungry; it stores the excess sugar we eat as fat in all our major organs but especially in our liver. When it finally can’t keep up with our blood sugar levels we develop type 2 diabetes.
The current estimate is that, in addition to the 3.5 million known diabetics, there are 1.1 million undiagnosed diabetics in the UK. One of the reasons for the high levels of people remaining undiagnosed is that we often mistake the symptoms of type 2 diabetes for ageing.
Just Ageing or Diabetes in Disguise?
Listen to a few clients’ descriptions – might this be you?
Peeing all the time
Sue & Christina (68 & 62) remember peeing all the time. Sue said “I knew something was wrong because I was peeing like crazy, like every hour and what seemed like a gallon at a time. It was crazy, but I just thought I should expect it at my age”.
Food made me feel unwell
Geoff, 45, remembers food being a major trigger. “Sweating, feeling light-headed, faint and sleepy every time I ate a cheeseburger or a large amount of food. Just thought my gut was slowing down a bit now I’d hit 40”.
Harriet (50) suffered with fatigue, a very common symptom, and she also remembers “I had a dry mouth, I was peeing all the time, but the worst was the fatigue. I couldn’t stay awake more than an hour without being extremely exhausted. I would be in the car for 5 minutes and start falling asleep. Some of my friends said they needed a cat nap too so I just put it down to the menopause.”
For Seyi (54) & Robin (70)it is was their eyes. Seyi recalled “They would become blurry for half an hour if I ate sweets or pastries. Not every time but sometimes. I just thought oh oh I’m starting to wear out!”
No symptoms at all
But many, like Pam (61) ,had “absolutely no symptoms” until they had a blood test!
‘No symptoms’ except for the one they didn’t realise was staring at them every time they looked in the mirror.
Waist getting bigger
Are your buttons pulling? Do your tops feel tight? Do you need to loosen your belt? Is your belt disappearing underneath your tummy?
The one sign that all of these clients shared was that their waist was getting bigger.
What’s happening with your waist? Is it getting bigger? Whether it’s your belt getting tighter, your trousers digging in, or just choosing to wear looser clothes: there is clear evidence that an increasing waist and development of central abdominal fat dramatically increases your risk of type 2 Diabetes.
Abdominal obesity is caused by visceral fat accumulating inside and around the key abdominal organs such as the liver, kidneys and intestines. The first sign is an increasing waist circumference.
So do yourself a favour and measure your waist. Work out your waist to height ratio. Ideally, you want your waist measurement to be less than half your height. For example, a woman who is 5 foot 9 inches tall (69 inches) should have a waist of 34.5 inches or less.
Let food be your medicine
If you think you might have diabetes talk to your doctor and he will arrange a simple blood test.
Whether you want to avoid developing type 2 diabetes or to reverse it, the good news is you have control and can thrive. Just let food be your medicine.
The food choices you make today will play a direct role in the quality of your skin, your ability to lose/gain weight, your mood, your ability to absorb nutrients, and so much more. So teach your children and grandchildren that if a food has 25 plus ingredients with unpronounceable words it probably isn’t food. If it has a shelf life that lasts more than a year it’s likely to be stuffed with heavily processed fats and trans-fats and packed with sugar. Show them how to avoid processed foods, eating real whole foods is one of the best (and most immediate) things we can do to improve our health right now.
Whilst food is important it’s not the whole story. Please be conscious of the fact that everything you put in and on your body is absorbed and your toxic load, alongside stress and sleep can have an impact on your ability to regulate your blood sugar. If you are worried that you are pre-diabetic or diabetic find someone to help you who integrates physical, mental and emotional health and focuses on finding the root cause of the illness rather than only treating symptoms. A practitioner who looks at you holistically and aims to bring the body systems back into balance to optimise your health. Good luck with your journey and thrive in the knowledge that it is absolutely possible to reverse type 2 diabetes naturally.